Effects of water restriction on the performance of local dairy goats and their kids in the arid western lowlands of Eritrea.
Ghebregziabher, K N
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The study was conducted in the western lowlands of Eritrea at Tessenei Dairy Goat Multiplication and Demonstration Station located in Gash-Barka zone, 365 killsnorthwest of Asmara. The objective of the study was to determine the effect of water restriction on milk yield, weight gain and kids' growth rate of local Husani goats. Eighteen mature female Husani goats of similar body weight and age, and in their late pregnancy stage, were purchased from the local livestock keepers and randomly assigned to one of the following watering regimes (treatments): once in 24 h (Td, once in 48 h (T2) and once in 72 h (T3)' All the goats were browsed together in the same ecological area to ensure they received similar diet. All the animals also received the same husbandry and veterinary care. Daily water intake, daily milk yield, weekly body weight changes of the mothers and their kids was determined for six months (April to July 1997) . All the animals exhibited loss in body weight, reduction in milk yield and low kids' growth rate throughout the study period. This was partially attributed to 'lack of adequate feed since the study was conducted during the dry season and no supplementary feed was provided. However, 72 h watering regime resulted in higher average body weight loss (28.5 percent), higher reduction in milk yield and lower average kids' growth rate compared with the 24 and 48 h watering regimes. A significant positive linear correlation (r2 = 0.405, P<O.01) was observed between average water consumption and milk yield, i.e. milk yield was higher in those goats which were watered daily than those watered after 2 and 3 days. There was also a positive and significant linear correlation (r2=0.295, P<0.05) between milk consumption and growth rate of kids. The higher the amount of milk consumed, the higher the kids' body weight gain.