Editor’s Note: The interesting (and fun) thing about dairy goats is that there is always more to learn. In this issue, a study and description of the Jamunapari, a dairy goat breed found in India (and ancestor of the modern Nubian), was provided by Dr. George F.W. Haenlein, D.Sc., Ph.D., Professor Department of Animal and Food Science, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware. His Indian colleague, Dr. P.K. Rout wrote the following article from the Makhdoom Research Station and Chakarnagar home tract in India and contributed some of the photos (as noted).
The Indian Jamunapari (also called Jamnapari) goat is one of the ancestors of the American Nubian. They were derived from crossing Jamunapari from India and Egyptian Zaraibi with native English goats, when they arrived in England on merchant boats as part of every cargo. This produced the Anglo-Nubian breed.
The Jamunapari is known as the best dairy goat in India. It is also the tallest breed and commonly known as the "Pari" in its area of origin-the "home tract"-because of its majestic appearance. Its home tract and natural habitat is the Chakarnagar area of the Etawah district in the State of Uttar Pradesh, along the delta of the Jamuna and Chambal Rivers, and the Bhind district of the State of Madhya Pradesh along the Kwari River, east of New Dehli and not far from the famous Taj Mahal at Agra. The Jamunapari is well adapted to the unique ravines of this area with its dense bush and shrub vegetation. The Jamunapari seems to have evolved specifically in this environment, as the breed is not found naturally in adjacent areas outside of their home tract.
Jamunapari buck – this breed is an important part of native life.
The home tract is located between 26.8 degrees N latitude and 79.3 degrees E longitude. The Chakarnagar area lies 24 miles southeast from the town of Etawah across the Jamuna River over an area of 83,100 acres. Due to the highly eroded nature of the soil, the ground surface is unevenly rolling, forming deep gullies and ravines as much as 10 to 150 feet deep. The summer season is dry and hot with temperatures reaching 118ºF. During the winter the mercury drops down below freezing to 26-28ºF. Annual rainfall is about 28 inches, which is scattered throughout the rainy season. The gullies and ravines are covered with dense brush and drought resistant tree vegetation, mainly mesquite (Prosopis juliflora), plum (Ziziphus jujuba), babool (Acacia nilotica), Chhonkra (Prosopis spicigera), Hingota (Balanites aegyptica). The main cereal crops are the exotic Arhar (Cassia cacjam), Gram (Cassia erientinum) and Bajara (Pennisetum aegypticum), and depend on rain, as there is no irrigation facility in the area.
Anatomy of the breed
The Jamunapari has white, short hair except for long hair on the thigh and back leg. It has a strongly arched Roman nose and long pendulous ears are the major breed characteristics. The neck is long, muscular and set erect. The loin is strong but usually arched; the tail is short and typically curved upward. Ear length is about eight inches for three-to-six-month old kids, growing to 12 inches on adults. Horns project backwards and their length reaches about nine inches on adults. The udder is relatively capacious, compared to other Asian "dairy" goats, but pendulous. Teats fit hand milking and are up to six inches long. While the ears in adult Jamunapari are about 12 inches long, the face, including the mouth, is shorter than the ears by about two or three inches, thus causing a critical and disadvantageous 1:4 ratio of ear to face length. It makes the ears awkwardly touch the ground or feed trough before the mouth does when trying to graze or feed. And the eyes can also be covered by the long ears. Thus the Jamunapari has evolved more to feeding by browsing bushes, tree leaves and the top of grasses than typical ground grazing, which makes the breed vulnerable to environmental changes.
During the winter the Jamunapari spend about 94% of their time browsing vigorously, but only 55% during the hot summer-and then slowly. When top flora is absent, which is their first preference, the Jamunapari seek middle flora in preference to ground flora. The strong Roman nose renders the upper jaw and lip in many Jamunapari shorter than the lower jaw, the condition being called an "undershot upper jaw" or brachygnathia, which is a genetic recessive trait. This seems to be a determining factor for the goat’s preferential habit of browsing rather than grazing compared to other ruminants, because the goat’s lower lip and jaw touch the ground first without the upper lip and jaw making it difficult to bite and apprehend grass. Due to present deforestation and land reclamation, the original home tract with its brush vegetation is now becoming greatly changed to the disadvantage of the browsing Jamunapari, and thus contributing to the endangerment of the Jamunapari breed.
Jamunapari herds are usually kept under extensive systems of management of seven to 12 hours of foraging in the ravines of the Chakarnagar during the different seasons. Goat breeders prefer to have small herds due to space limitations on the home farm. Herd size may be up to 16 adult females with varying numbers of kids. Some adult goats are sold at times. In general, small barns or huts, of about 12 x 8 feet in size, are wooden pole structures with thatched roofing and thorn bush coverings. Sometimes this structure is made of mud or bricks depending on the economic status of the farmer, and modified seasonally to suit prevailing weather. These huts are known as "bangla," which are surrounded by an enclosure using wooden poles, sticks and thorn bushes as fencing of the paddock. If not foraging, the goats are kept in the open paddock free or tethered in the summer, and the farmers are vigilant to protect their goats from attacks by wild animals. During the rainy season, the goats are kept tethered inside the covered huts. During winter, the huts are densely covered with thorn bushes and grass panels to protect against the cold. Fires are maintained to keep the environment warm and to repel wild animals. Kids are housed separately from adults. Breeding bucks are kept in brick houses under special care, usually tethered.
Jamunapari forage in the ravines of the Chakarnagar during daylight for 7-12 hours, depending on the season. A concentrate grain mixture is provided in the morning prior to going out to pasture. Pregnant does and those which are intended for show purposes are given a special diet consisting of Bajra (Pennisetum americanum), barley, Jowar (Sorghum bicolor) and wheat whole or in the form of a gruel. Kids up to three months of age are allowed to nurse their mothers. Before nursing or milking, each doe is provided with some boiled bajra or cooked bread. In addition to the concentrate mixture, the seed pods (succulent or dry) of bajra, unripe rajma (a legume), kairy (Prosopis cinerarea) and tree leaves are also given to the goats.
Female Jamunapari weigh about six pounds at birth, 30 pounds at six months, and 65 pounds at 12 months of age. Male kids have significantly higher body weights. Growth rate averages about two pounds per week up to three months of age, and two pounds per 10 days thereafter. Male Jamunapari can attain about 80 pounds body weight by 12 months of age under good feeding systems.
Typical Jamunapari doe has strongly arched Roman nose, short horns, long ears and white colored short hair except for the long hair on her thighs and hind legs.
Milk recordings for 30, 60, 90, and 120 days of lactation have been reported in average to yield 70, 150, 200, and 270 pounds milk, respectively. Jamunapari can produce eight pounds of milk daily and average lactation yields of 2.5 pounds per day. Milk yields increase up to the end of two months and then start to decline for average lactation lengths of 260 days. Does with multiple kids usually produce more milk than those with single kids. Milk composition studies determined average total protein contents of 2.9% (range 2.4-3.2) in early lactation, 3.2% (range 2.3-3.9) in middle lactation and 3.8% (range 3.1-4.3) in late lactation (Singh and Singh, 1980a), with average percent casein of 82% in early, 79% in middle, and 77% in late lactation. The casein fraction of the milk contained an average 26% alpha-casein, 61% beta-casein and 13% gamma-casein (Singh and Singh 1980b).
Natural conception rates of Jamunapari are high at about 88%, kidding rate 1.6, twinning 52%, and triplets and quadruplets are common. Age of first conception is around 18 months, first kidding at 23 months, and interkidding interval about 11 months.
Selection criteria of bucks
Jamunapari bucks selected for breeding purposes by farmers are very carefully based on certain criteria and utilizing judiciously their knowledge and experience. Pedigree is an important point of consideration before a purchase is made. Body color should be perfectly white and no compromise is made in this respect. A buck must be from a high yielding female of older age. No buck from first or second parity females will be considered for breeding purposes. Horns should not be straight but curved upward-no buck with downward curved horns will be considered. Testes should be round and small. Body hair should be short and glossy, but the hair on the thigh and back legs must be long. There should be no black color on the nose or head. The face should be well arched with a Roman nose. Males should have beards.
Role of women in goat raising
Goat kid raising in the home tract of the Chakarnagar is very much the responsibility of women, and they are intensely involved in the management practices under field conditions. The heavy adult goats are generally managed by male members of the family. In a study conducted about the role of women, it was found that they spend much time in day-to-day feeding, preparing special rations for pregnant goats, and grooming for show purposes. They milk the goats, which is used in preparing tea for the family and for nursing young children as needed. Women know all the management techniques for taking care of the Jamunapari, when the male members of the family are not at home. Women are competent in the delivery of kids, aiding the newborn to breath freely, cutting their umbilical cord and keeping them clean and dry. Women usually prepare ghee (cooked goat butter) and "dahi" curd from the goat milk in the village, and quite efficiently. Women spend about three to four hours daily managing their goats. While this increases their daily work load, they all enjoy goat rearing. They also sell goats during festival times or when there is a monetary need in the family. In the decision making process, e.g. for the sale of goats and utilization of income, women have equal status to men, but for the purchase of goats, the men play a dominant role.
Farmers face many problems in raising goats. Unbalanced growth of Bilati babool (Prosopis juliflora), which can be responsible for a 50% decrease in goat production. There is inadequate veterinary help, infrequent purchasing of new goats, harassment by police and forestry departments, labor problems, attacks by wild animals, and seasonal shortages of forage.
Anonymous. 1987, 1988. Annual Report, Central Institute of Research on Goats, Makhdoom.
Devendra, C., and Haenlein, G.F.W. 2003. Goat breeds. Pages 585-598 volume II in: H. Roginski, J. W. Fuquay, and P. F. Fox, eds., Encyclopedia of Dairy Sciences, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 4 volumes.
Rout, P.K., Mandal, A., Roy, R., Singh, L.B. 1999. Improvement and conservation of Jamunapari goats in their home tract. India Ministry of Agriculture Report, New Dehli.
Singh, V.B., Singh, S.N. 1980a. Total protein, whey protein and casein content of milk of four Indian goat breeds during lactation. Internat. Goat and Sheep Res. 1:118-124.
Singh, V.B., Singh, S.N. 1980b. Milk casein: Electrophoretic alpha, beta and gamma fractions from four Indian goat breeds during lactation. Internat. Goat and Sheep Res. 1:125-131.
1 University of Delaware, Dept. Animal & Food Sci., Newark, DE