Levels, causes and factors affecting mortality in a herd of small East African goats on a semi-arid thornbush Savannah
Gachuiri, C K
Carles, A B
Schwartz, H J
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Kenya comprises vast arid and semi-arid areas and at the present level of technology and economic infrastructure in the country, the only feasible way to prod-:&z food for human consumption from these areas is through domestic ruminants. Small stock production has played a major role in th economy of range areas in the past 10 years. Sheep and goats have contributed significantly more than cattle in terms of livestock products in these areas (Semenye, 1977). The goat population has recently been estimated at 7.7 million with 40% of these being kept by pastoralists (Stotz, 1983). An increasing proportion of goats is observed in the pastoralists flocks with increasing aridity of the environment, leading to the assumption that goats are better adapted to the conditions of the arid rangeland of Northern Kenya. High mortality rates, especially prcweaning, has been cited as a major constraint on improving productivity. Wilson et al. (1985) reported a preweaning mortality of 28.6% for goats in a Maasai ranch. Carles et al. (1982), working in a pastoral area in Northern Kenya, reported mortalities of 6-12% for breeding females, rising as high as 66% during the first year of life. An opportunity arose to study in more detail, the causes, levels and factors affecting mortality in a typical pastoral system with the establishment, by the Department of Animal Production in cooperation with the Ministry of Livestock Development, the European Economic Community, the German Research Foundation and the German Agency for Technical cooperation, of a research station in a pastoral area near Isiolo.