S. M. Robertson, T. Atkinson, M. A. Friend, M. B. Allworth, and G. Refshauge
Goat meat production is an expanding industry in Australia. However, there is limited data quantifying the levels of reproductive performance, particularly under extensively grazed rangeland conditions, which would inform interventions to improve performance. This review aimed to quantify the levels of reproduction, time and causes of reproductive wastage in goats. It considers the levels of fertility, fecundity, embryonic loss, fetal loss and post-natal survival reported under Australian conditions, and comparisons are made with international reports. Key management factors that may contribute to reproductive performance include breed, seasonality, nutritional conditions, and weather conditions at kidding. While goats are potentially prolific breeders, in Australia, the variation in weaning rate (kids/doe joined) among properties is large (51–165%), although the causes of this variation are not well defined. Generally, conception and kidding rates are high, although fetal loss associated with undernutrition is more likely in goats than sheep. As with sheep, perinatal losses are generally the largest source of wastage, with an average 20% kid mortality, but this level is influenced by litter size and appears to be higher under extensive rangeland systems. The causes of perinatal kid loss under Australian conditions are similar to those in sheep, with starvation–mismothering–exposure and dystocia or stillbirth the key causes. Studies are needed to accurately quantify the level and causes of reproductive wastage in commercial herds, including a range of management situations, to enable effective interventions to be developed.
Additional keywords: conception, litter size, reproduction, survival.
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