Goat rearing is one of the most lucrative livestock ventures in Nigeria today. Rising demand for goat meat and milk, coupled with improved production practices, makes goat farming highly profitable. This presents tremendous opportunities for current and aspiring farmers to capitalise on the value chain. This in-depth guide examines the income potential of commercial goat production and how to tap into the growing goat market.
Overview of Goat Farming in Nigeria
Goats are important for food security and livelihoods in Nigeria. Key facts:
- Nigeria has approximately 70 million goats, the largest population in Africa.
- Goats provide over 30% of Nigeria’s total meat consumption.
- Over 90% of goats are reared in rural smallholdings under traditional, extensive systems.
- The goat meat sector remains largely informal, with minimal commercial-scale production.
- Average goat meat production per animal is low at 3kg compared to the 15–18 kg achievable.
- Milk yields an average of 0.5 litres daily, versus upwards of 3 litres for specialised dairy breeds.
- Kid mortality rates are high, from 20 to 40%, due to poor husbandry.
- Breeding stock is largely indigenous, with low productivity and growth rates.
These factors indicate a major scope for improving goat output and profitability through the adoption of good management practices.
Market Prospects in Goat Farming
Despite current challenges, goat rearing has excellent income potential based on rising demand and better prices.
Increasing demand for goat meat
Nigeria’s goat meat market has surged over the past decade. Goat meat consumption per capita has doubled from 1.5kg to 3kg annually. Domestic production totals 63,000 metric tonnes currently, valued at $210 million. Yet Nigeria still imports 23,000 metric tonnes of frozen goat meat annually, indicating supply shortfalls.
This goat meat deficit will widen as Nigeria’s population grows from 206 million to 400 million by 2050. Expanding middle-class populations in cities, rising purchasing power, and growing preference for goat meat provide a huge market opportunity. Farmers can earn high returns by boosting production to meet burgeoning goat meat demand. Commercial ventures focused on goat fattening can generate good incomes year-round from this consumptive market.
Goat milk products demand
Increased health consciousness is driving demand for goat milk and value-added products like cheese, yoghurt, powdered milk, and ice cream. Goat milk retails for almost double the price of cow milk. Urban consumers perceive it as nutrition-rich, easy to digest, and have medicinal properties. Dairy goat farming enables tapping into the high-value milk market. Processors prefer large, consistent volumes, providing impetus for specialised commercial production.
Rising Hide and Skin Exports
Goat skins have become Nigeria’s second-largest animal skin export after cowhide. Annual goat skin exports top 3 million units valued at $85 million. Key buyers are in Italy, China, Turkey, and Vietnam, where skins are used for leather goods, gloves, and garments. Sustained hide exports indicate rising international demand that farmers can supply through better practices and flock sizes.
Goat prices have been on an upward trend, providing better incomes for farmers. Prices range from ₦15,000-₦25,000 for young stock and ₦35,000-₦50,000 for mature goats. During festive seasons, prices can double. Consumers perceive goat meat as premium and pay higher prices over other meats. Better pricing, against a background of growing demand, makes goat rearing lucrative for smallholders and commercial ventures.
Production System Models for Profitability
Farmers can utilise different production systems to maximise productivity and profit.
This model entails raising goats mainly on natural vegetation and supplements through free grazing. It requires lower investment in housing and feed but provides limited intake control. Extensive rearing works where large communal grazing lands are available. Farmers can maintain large herds, albeit with lower individual goat productivity. It is the traditional production method used by most smallholders currently.
This combines grazing with the stall-feeding of supplementary rations. Farmers adopt practices like rotational grazing and dry-season confinement. Additional concentrated feeding and improved healthcare boost weight gain and fertility. Although capital investment increases, better management improves survival and growth rates. A semi-intensive approach enables higher carrying capacity than an extensive system.
An intensive production system confines goats in stalls for complete feed control. Farmers provide formulated concentrate feed, green fodder, mineral supplements, and ad-lib water. This system requires higher capital and running costs. However, farmers can maximise productivity per animal through better nutrition and healthcare. It is ideal for small landholdings and optimising individual output.
Ranching allows rearing goats in low density on rangeland of at least 10 hectares, separated into paddocks. This extensive system involves rotational grazing for better pasture management but higher fencing costs. Group feeding and medication administration are easier. Ranching is suitable for farmers with sizeable communal lands for goat grazing.
Commercial dairy goat farming
Specialised dairy goat farming focuses on maximum milk yields. It adopts intensive production with improved dairy breeds, climate-controlled housing, quality feeds, and mechanised milking. This capital-intensive model targets supply to commercial processors. It can deploy precision farming technologies for efficiency. Although sophisticated, commercial dairy goat farms generate very high revenues from milk sales.
Breeds for Profitable Goat Production
Choosing the right breed is key to productivity and profitability.
West African Dwarf Goat
The West African Dwarf (WAD) goat is a native breed with 75% of Nigeria’s goat population. They are hardy, adaptable, and resistant to trypanosomiasis disease. However, their small size, late maturity, and low twinning rate limit productivity. WAD goats are most suited to low-input, extensive systems. Crossbreeding with fast-growing exotic Boer goats can improve meat production.
Red Sokoto Goat
The Red Sokoto goat, also called Maradi, is a large Nigerian goat breed. They produce premium skins and meat. However, their productivity depends on the agro-ecological environment. Selective breeding can improve weight, fertility, and milk yield. Red Sokotos perform well under semi-intensive management.
Sahel or Desert Goat
This hardy breed, originating from the Sahel region, adapts well to hot, arid conditions. Their medium size limits carcass weight. But Sahel goats can survive in challenging environments and low-quality pasture. They are suitable where few alternative breeds succeed.
The Boer goat is a fast-growing, improved breed from South Africa. It produces high-quality lean meat. Boer goats display excellent feed conversion efficiency. Crossbreeding Boer with local breeds can significantly improve growth rates, meat yield, and conformation. Boers are ideal for accelerated fattening programmes.
This breed, developed in the UK and India, produces higher milk yields, averaging 1.5 litres daily. Their milk has a higher butterfat content. Anglo-Nubians are large, long-bodied goats. They are suited to semi-intensive and intensive dairy production. Crossbreeding with local goats transfers stronger milking abilities.
This composite meat breed was developed by FACU to be trypanotolerant and combine fast growth with WAD hardiness. Savanna goats produce up to 10kg more meat than indigenous breeds. They can adapt across agro-ecologies. Savanna goats enable profitable meat production under semi-intensive management.
Feeding Practices for Cost-Efficient Production
Proper year-round feeding that fulfils nutritional requirements is vital for growth and health.
Goats raised extensively rely on grazing pasture, shrubs, and tree foliage. Overgrazing deteriorates vegetation. Rotational grazing improves rangeland quality and enables higher stocking rates. Dividing land into 4–6 paddocks provides sufficient regrowth periods after intensive 4–7-day grazing periods in each paddock. Fodder banks with fast-growing grasses also supplement grazing.
Producing Fodder Crops
Cultivating improved grasses and legumes provides high-nutrition fodder. Multicut crops like elephant grass, oats, and alfalfa can be incorporated into cut-and-carry feeding or used for stall feeding. Fodder trees like Leucaena also supplement the available feed. Such forage crops support better nutrition.
Crop Residues and Agro-Industrial By-products
Crop residues after grain harvest, such as maize stover, groundnut haulms, and cowpea leaves, offer low-cost dry-season feed. Agro-industry by-products like wheat bran, brewers spent grains, cottonseed cake, and molasses provide cost-efficient sources of protein and energy. Avoid mouldy residue.
Concentrate Feed Rations
Compounded concentrate feed rations are essential to optimise meat and milk output. Total mixed rations balancing energy, protein, minerals, vitamins, and roughage enhance growth and milk production. Rations should be formulated based on the physiological stage. Pellet feeds reduce waste and let farmers measure intake. Work with nutritionists to develop suitable feed rations.
Feed Conservation as Silage and Hay
Preserving excess fodder as hay and silage provides reserves during dry months. Wilting grated forage before baling into hay reduces losses. Anaerobic fermented silage offers better nutrition than hay. Proper moisture levels prevent spoilage. Invest in basic ensiling equipment like polytubes.
Supplementary Feeding of Mineral Blocks
Mineral deficiencies impair reproductive health. Provide loose mineral mix or compressed blocks containing calcium, phosphorus, salt, and microminerals. Position blocks where goats naturally congregate to lick. Offer clean, cool water at all times.
Herd Health and Management
Maintaining rigorous standards in animal husbandry, sanitation, and healthcare is imperative for profitable production.
Housing and equipment
Good housing protects goats from harsh weather and predators. Well-ventilated sheds with slatted wooden or concrete floors enable cleaning. Use raised platforms and stanchions to keep bedding clean and dry. Install feeding troughs and water points. Milking stools allow hygienic hand milking.
Routine health practices
Carry out preventive health practices like deworming, dipping, and manicures as scheduled. Check for parasites and infections. Trim overgrown hooves. Disinfect housing periodically. Quarantine and test new arrivals. Maintain vaccination, breeding, and treatment records for the herd. Daily observation identifies problems early.
Apply strict biosecurity protocols on the farm. Use footbaths and enforce no-entry policies in sheds. Avoid introducing untested animals. Isolate sick animals immediately. Carry out fumigation and rodent control. Do not graze goats with other herds or near other livestock. Strong biosecurity prevents infectious outbreaks.
Improved bucks pass higher productivity traits to kids. Avoid inbreeding depression. Time mating for October-November for pre-festive season kidding. Separately pregnant women are approaching parturition. Tag kids at birth and provide colostrum immediately. Wean kids at 3 months. Castrate bucks are not meant for breeding. Cull unproductive stock annually.
Maintain individual animal and herd-level records. Track growth curves, medical history, kidding details, milk yields, etc. Records allow for monitoring performance. Collect data to make data-driven decisions on culling, breeding, feeding, and health interventions. Digital records enhance analysis.
Use guard dogs and night enclosures to protect from predators. Install mesh fencing and thorn barriers. Play radios to deter wildlife intrusions. Position lamps to illuminate sheds at night. Eliminate denning sites like woodpiles where predators hide. Work with communities to restrict hunting near farms.
Key Interventions to Adopt for Profitability
Certain good practices offer high returns on investment when adopted.
Internal parasites impair growth and immunity. Oral dewormers eliminate worms cost-effectively. Treat kids starting at 2 months of age, then every 45 days up to 12 months. Give the entire herd broad-spectrum dewormer pre-kidding. Check dung samples to monitor infestations. Targeted deworming keeps stock parasite-free.
Introducing bred-for-purpose improved breeds via AI or stud bucks upgrades herd genetics. Crossbreeding with Boer goats transfers faster growth rates. Upgrading local goats with dairy breeds like Alpine and Saanen boosts milk potential. Systematically upgrade genetics for better productivity.
Mechanising arduous tasks enhances labour efficiency. Use power tillers for fodder plots and feed choppers for ration preparation. Milking machines collect milk hygienically and completely. Tractor-pulled mowers make quick fodder harvesting possible. Electric clippers allow uniform shearing. Appropriate machines save time and effort.
Vaccines protect against Peste des Petits (PPR), goat pox, enterotoxemia, and contagious caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP). Follow prescribed schedules for endemic diseases like anthrax, blackleg, and blue tongue. Store vaccines under refrigeration and avoid exposure to sunlight. Proper vaccination prevents mortality.
Scientifically balanced year-round nutrition and clean water are essential for optimal growth and milk yields. Provide mineral supplements to correct deficiencies. Work with animal nutritionists to formulate proper rations. Avoid feeding mouldy, dirty, or stale ingredients. Good nutrition enables the realisation of each goat’s full genetic potential.
Shed technology adoption
Use technology to create superior shed environments. Install cooling systems, air circulators, and exhaust fans for hot climates. Leverage heating systems for high-altitude areas. Use misters and foggers for evaporative cooling. Ensure a backup power supply. Technology allows for maintaining optimal housing conditions.
Breeds use artificial insemination (AI) with frozen semen from proven superior sires. AI allows rapid genetic improvement by avoiding live animal transport. Train inseminators properly in thawing semen and deposition techniques. Maintain AI equipment well. AI breeding is cost-effective for multiplying elite genetics.
Mitigate farming risks through livestock insurance against mortality, disease, and climatic extremes. Government schemes like NAIC’s subsidised livestock insurance lower premiums. Visit farms regularly to assess and control risks. Transparent documentation of best practices further eases claim settlements. Insurance coverage prevents disastrous losses.
Marketing Channels for Optimal Prices
Following a targeted sales strategy maximises profit on goat sales.
Sales to abattoirs
Selling goats to abattoirs for slaughter provides assured offtake without handling butchery. Farmers must consistently supply the desired goat weights and quality. Establish long-term supply agreements with abattoirs. Location near urban abattoirs reduces transport costs. Schedule sales to avoid gluts.
Direct Sales to Butcheries
Butcheries pay higher prices for live goats than abattoirs to secure fresh stock. Farmers must develop relationships with multiple butchers to negotiate better deals. Offer preferred breeds, weights, and quality specifications. Ensure prompt delivery to retain butchers as clients.
Sales to Individual Consumers
Breeders can sell animals directly to individual buyers as replacement stock or for slaughter. Social media platforms like Facebook enable targeted sales outreach to goat-keeping communities. Farmers must manage customer inquiries and logistics. Provide health guarantees for breeding stock. Schedule advertisements around festivals when demand peaks.
Sales via Livestock Markets
Livestock markets allow tapping into spot demand from many traders and butchers. Obtain sales commission discounts from market operators for consistent supply. Segregate animals into uniform lots to attract bulk buyers. Auction sales enable farmers to obtain the highest bid prices. Load animals sparingly to avoid transit stress.
Milk Sales to Processors
Formal supply agreements with processors provide guaranteed milk offtake. Processors prefer year-round supply in bulk. Ensure cooling infrastructure and hygienic storage on-farm. Own refrigerated transport to maintain the cold chain. Investments in meeting processor quantity and quality expectations create a stable income stream.
Establish a branded meat shop.
Enterprising goat keepers can operate specialised meat shops that retail quality goat meat. Invest in a licenced retail space that meets food safety standards. Offer choice cuts and processed products under a private brand. Direct sales to consumers generate the highest margins. Home deliveries and digital marketing increase reach. However, this route requires significant working capital and marketing expertise.
Online sales portals
Digital platforms like Ngosh Farms enable farmers to directly connect with and sell to a wide customer base online. Listing animals for sale with good descriptions and photographs attracts more buyers. Offer competitive pricing and conveniences like home delivery. Digital payments reduce security risks. Build a reputation for quality stock and service.
Critical Factors for Profitable Goat Farming
Certain key enablers determine the success of commercial goat ventures.
Access to finance and land
Starting commercial production requires significant upfront investment in land, housing, equipment, and foundation stock. Farmers need access to medium-term bank credit or agricultural loans to fund infrastructure. Microfinance organisations also provide small livestock loans. Leasing communally held grazing land provides an alternative to high land purchase costs.
Close monitoring and data analysis
Keep detailed records of production parameters like conception rates, kidding percentage, growth curves, milk yields, and expenses. Continuously monitor the data to make timely interventions that improve productivity and efficiency. Performance recording and analysis are key to profitability.
Knowing input cost economics
Calculate the profitability of goat rearing by understanding unit economics. Track all input costs, including feed, labour, health, breeding, and overheads. Relate these costs to output metrics like weight gain, milk yield, and kidding rate. In-depth data allows for taking steps to optimise the cost-to-income ratio.
Marketing and customer linkages
Developing long-term trade relationships with abattoirs, processors, butchers, and brokers stabilises income. Understand and cater to customer preferences. Consistently provide the desired goat weights, quality standards, and hygiene. A targeted marketing and sales strategy boosts profitability.
Acquire the necessary skills for goat production, health management, and business operations through training and experience. Attend courses in breeding, nutrition, housing, product making, etc. Learn business administration abilities. Upgrade skills continuously to apply best practices. Expertise is key for maximum production at a low cost.
Forming Producer Cooperatives
Organising into producer groups and cooperatives helps small goat farmers gain economies of scale in input procurement, marketing leverage, and access to finance. Cooperatives also enable the establishment of common infrastructure like chilling plants, slaughterhouses, and breeding centres. Work together for shared benefits.
Insurance and risk mitigation
Mitigate climate and disease risks through insurance products for livestock. Enrol in government-subsidised livestock insurance schemes. Follow the prescribed disease control steps to make claim processing easier. Ensure all-weather road access to farms for support services. Prepare for emergencies through contingency planning. Build resilience to safeguard investments.
Goat farmers can increase their incomes by venturing into value-added products.
Harvesting goats on-farm and selling chilled pre-cut meat or processed meat products allows for capturing additional margin. Develop preferred recipes and package meat hygienically under your own brand. Invest in cool storage infrastructure. Meat processing requires licencing and compliance with quality standards.
Process surplus goat milk into products like pasteurised milk, flavoured milk, yoghurt, soft cheese, cottage cheese, ghee, butter, etc. Milk powders have a long shelf life. Feta and hard cheeses offer higher-value additions. Market to upscale consumers and retailers. Maintain European Union export standards.
Skin and hide tanning
Preserve goat skins through drying, salting, or wet blue tanning methods before sale. Semi-processed leather fetches higher prices than raw hides and skins. Venture into leather goods manufacturing for maximum value addition. However, tanning requires strict environmental compliance.
Convert goat manure into packaged organic manure or compost. Dry pelletizing facilitates easy storage and application. Tap into the growing demand for organic farms and gardens. Compost tea and vermicompost are high-value products. Fertiliser marketing needs education on benefits.
Handcraft goat milk soap and meat bone soap for additional income streams. Goat milk soap moisturises the skin. Develop speciality formulations using local herbs, honey, etc. Market soaps as premium, natural products. Maintaining quality standards and packaging is key.
In summary, goat farming offers sustainable livelihoods and pathways out of poverty if undertaken with professionalism. Keep abreast of the latest technologies and innovations. Develop industry linkages. Following scientific practices for nutrition, breeding, and healthcare leads to optimal production. Meat, milk, and by-product processing allow families to reap greater benefits from their goat herds. With passion and persistence, smallholders can transform subsistence goat rearing into a commercial success. The future for profit-oriented goat production in Nigeria is bright.