Differentiation of the indigenous goat populations in Ethiopia based on morphometric features and zoometric indices: The primary step for conservation

B. Tade, A. Melesse*, S. Betsha

School of Animal and Range Sciences, College of Agriculture, Hawassa University, P.O.Box 5, Hawassa, Ethiopia

(Manuscript received 12 November 2020; accepted for publication 14 August 2021)

Abstract. This study was conducted to describe the indigenous goat populations of South Gondar, Ethiopia based on morphometric traits and body indices. To this effect, morphometric measurements were taken from 512 goats (153 male and 359 female) of both sexes drawn from three districts (Farta, Fogera and Libokemkem). Twenty structural indices were computed from morphometric measurements. Results indicated that age at first kidding and kidding intervals was 13.6 and 8.39 months, respectively, with an average litter size of 1.54 kids. Sex affected (p<0.001) all quantitative traits except ear length (EL), rump width (RW) and fore canon circumference (FCC) being higher in bucks than in does. The effect of age was significant (p<0.001) for all morphometric traits except for EL resulting in a linear increase with advancing age in both sexes. Except for EL and scrotal circumferences (SC), all quantitative traits were (p<0.01) affected by district of the goats rearing. Accordingly, Fogera goats had higher live weight (LW), heart girth (HG), height at withers (HW), body length (BL), chest width (CW), rump height (RH), rump length (RL) and teat length (TL) than those of Libokemkem. Fogera goats had also the highest LW and HG compared with those of Farta. Conversely, the Farta goats had higher RW, BL, TL, RL, CW, chest depth (CD), and paunch girth (PG) than those of Libokemkem. Libokemkem goats were inferior in most of the studied morphometric traits. Both HG and HW variables were identified as best predictors of LW in both sexes. Structural indices indicated that the goat populations could be characterized as meat phenotype with short legs being well adapted to midland altitudes. In conclusion, goats reared in the region could have a genetic potential for meat production with very good prolificacy. The Fogera goats were particularly better in most morphometric traits indicating their suitability for commercial meat production. However, further on-station research is recommended to verify their potentials as meat animals for enhanced food security in the region.