Rahman Rostamkhani (1), Seyyed Saeid Mousavi (2), Hossein Ghorbani (1), Seyyed Vahid Mortazavi (1), Mohammad Taghi Moslemioun (2), Mohammad Hossein Nemati (2), Hassan Mohammadi Nedjad (2), Nader Papi (3) and Farhad Mirzaei (3)
(1) Animal Production Improvement Administration of Zanjan province. Agricultural Jihad Organization. Zanjan, Iran.
(2) Animal Science Research Department. Zanjan Agricultural and Natural Recourses Research and Education Center. AREEO. Zanjan, Iran.
(3) Agricultural Research Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Animal Science Institute of Iran, Karaj.
History of goat rearing in Zanjan province
Archeological studies show the history of goat domestication dates to 7000 BC. Historical references also refer to Persia (Iran) as the land of origination of goat domestication. Since the earliest times, Iranians have reared goats for meat, milk, fiber, and skin supply. Currently, goat rearing has a notable role in Iranian nomadic and rural household’s life economy. The recent year’s goat keeping importance has been revealed much more because of climate changes, feed source limitation, and lack of relative advantage of pure breed farm animal production in Iran. Goat keeping has an essential role in meat and milk production in Zanjan province. Historically Name of Afshari goat is originated from the Afshar tribes who first reared this ecotype of goat in the region.
Geographic distribution area
Afshari goat population has been distributed in the different parts of the Zanjan province in about 20000 Km2.surface area, including highland altitudes and plains areas with other climatic conditions.
Based on the current official data, the Afshari goat population is estimated at about 130,000 heads in the province.
Goat keeping procedures are generally rural or semi-nomadic system. Goats are often reared together with sheep and in the grazing livestock act as a frontier animal or leadership of the flocks. Pure herds of goats are not usually seen among the local livestock.
Among the farm animal rearing, goat keeping is a part of daily life of the rural and tribes because of their great interest in this occupation. They usually keep goats not only to improve their incomes but also for the natural compatibility and attractive appearance of their herds.
The cultural, social, and economic relationship among nomadic and rural communities
Afshari goats with 130,000 heads produce some 550 tons of meat and 2,000 tons of milk in the province annually. Milk, fiber, and meat of Afshari goat are used by the nomadic and rural, and also urban people. Goat keeping has an important role in rural and nomadic life economy because of the food source supply and earning incomes. Hence, Afshari goats have great economic importance for rural or nomadic households.
Few references indicate the phenotypic characteristics of Afshari goat among the goat sciences literature. In general, the dominant color of the coating fiber is pure black, but other colors are seen in the flocks. Both male and female goats are hornless. Bucks have a strong and muscular body, and because of the good capability of grazing in poor pastures or feeding low-quality forages and they can return good income for their owners. Does have good performance of milk production, daily milk yield ranges from 1.5-2.3 Kgs. Mature bucks weigh more than 60 kgs., which is a good potential for meat production.
Goat yields are generally consumed inside the province, and the exportation of the products is not performed.
Items used for products
Of the Afshari goat products, hair products can be mentioned. Hair fiber growth is about 25 cm/year, and each goat can produce some 400 grams of hair per year, which is used for preparing of handicrafts and traditional clothes in most villages. The skin is used in the leather industry. Milk is used for feeding kids, and the rest of it is used to prepare cheese, yogurt, whey, and some other local milk derivatives. Mature bucks weigh more than 60 kgs., which supply the local and urban residents’ meat needs.
Measures for identifying and genetic improvement
There is a decent rate of multiparity in Afshari goats, which can result in high performance and more economic animals, by performing of interbreeding selections or other livestock improvement programs. In 2007, an on-farm project plan entitled “An investigation on crossbreeding of the Sannen bucks with native black goat (Afshari does)” was carried by the Research Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources of Zanjan province. In these projects, the performance of first and second generation of crossbreds (F1 and F2) had a relatively good result, but in most cases, their adaptability was weak in the rural rearing condition.
Suggestions for performance improvement
As a national genetic resource, Afshari goats have valuable production performance and traits which has not been studied scientifically. For identification of the production performance of this ecotype, it is necessary to do comprehensive researches and studies.
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.