Punjab returns to goats
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Goat farming, once very popular in Punjab, is witnessing a revival after a lull that lasted a decade and a half. This has been due largely to efforts to arrest the reversal by Ludhiana's Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), whose authorities credit the government, too, with promoting the trend.
The demand for both goat meat and milk is high in Punjab, which meets around 70 per cent of the meat demand from other states.
GADVASU's count for goats in the state, 4.50 lakh till 1998, had fallen to 1.20 lakh by 2008, a drop attributed to shrinking of grazing facilities, before the fresh efforts raised it to 1.92 lakh by the first half of 2012. Besides, 500 applications have been received by the animal husbandry department from various people seeking government help in opening goat farms. The applicants include small, marginal and big farmers.
"From 4.50 lakh goats in 1998 the total decreased to one-fourth in 2008, due to shrinking of grazing fields that come under agricultural land," said Dr A L Saini, head of GADVASU's department of livestock production and management, and an expert on goat farming.
"The goats started disappearing but then the Punjab government started promoting their farming and GADVASU too started organising various programmes related to goat farming." Dr Saini said.
To make up for the lost grazing options, a 'stall-fed' technique is being promoted. Feeding goats in the sheds, however, costs more than it would have cost if they had been allowed to graze in the open, Dr Saini said.
GADVASU has been organising fairs and educating farmers in the potential of goat farming.
"Not only are its milk and meat useful but every part of the goat, including its bones, skin and even glands, can be used for one purpose or the other," Dr Saini said. "Its milk is recommended for people with asthma, TB and dengue, and even people with intestinal problems."
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