Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 17–34 | Cite as

Dairy goat production systems

Status quo, perspectives and challenges
  • Luis Escareño
  • Homero Salinas-GonzalezEmail author
  • Maria Wurzinger
  • Luiz Iñiguez
  • Johann Sölkner
  • Cesar Meza-Herrera


Goat production concentrated in developing countries (tropics, dry areas), contributes largely to the livelihoods of low and medium income farmers. Farming systems in these areas have evolved to cope with the formidable constraints imposed by harsh natural and economic conditions by adapting integrated crop/livestock production strategies. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, due to its almost exclusive extensive nature, goat production relies mainly on grazing on communal lands that hardly provide the minimum nutrient requirements due to overstocking and degradation. While some of these production systems are becoming semi-intensive, appropriate breeding strategies should be designed to promote conservation and improvement of their unique attributes, such as adaptability, water use efficiency and suitability under harsh climatic conditions. In Europe, dairy goat production is more common around the Mediterranean basin, where it is important from an economic, environmental and sociological perspective to the Mediterranean countries: Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Europe owns only 5.1 % of the world’s dairy goat herds, but produces 15.6 % of the world’s goat milk; this is the only continent where goat milk has such an economic importance and organization. In developing countries the dairy goat sector requires a systemic approach, whereby nutrition, animal health, breeding, know-how, inputs and technologies must be assembled. This would allow the optimization of natural and local resources and would promote the transition from a risk reduction strategy towards an increased productivity strategy. Such an increase would privilege production efficiency based on clean, green and ethical practices for responsible innovation.


Dairy goats Breeds Smallholders Africa Asia Europe Latin American 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Escareño
    • 1
    • 2
  • Homero Salinas-Gonzalez
    • 3
    Email author
  • Maria Wurzinger
    • 1
  • Luiz Iñiguez
    • 4
  • Johann Sölkner
    • 1
  • Cesar Meza-Herrera
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Livestock Sciences, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems(BOKU)—University of Natural Resources and Applied Life SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Unidad Académica de Medicina Veterinaria y ZootecniaCalera de Víctor RosalesMexico
  3. 3.Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP)Centro de Investigación Regional Norte CentroMatamorosMexico
  4. 4.International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)AleppoSyria
  5. 5.Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Unidad Regional Universitaria de Zonas ÁridasBermejilloMexico

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