There are approximately one billion goats in the world, mostly for meat purposes. The top ten countries with the largest goat populations are China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Iran, and Mali. There are about three million goats in the United States with a continued increasing trend since the 1980’s.
Guizhou Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine is a growing research organization and aspires to the transformation of being more internationally visible. The Institute has a long research and extension history and is in the process of constructing a new campus due to urban expansion. It works with important livestock and poultry species in the Guizhou Province of China. Because of a wide range of availability of natural plant species in the largely mountainous terrain in the Guizhou Province, meat goat production holds an important economic role in rural development and poverty alleviation. A Chinese news release can be accessed at: http://www.gzxms.cn/News/ShowDetail/5833.
Accompanied by Professor Xu Gongyi of Sichuan Agricultural University and others, Dr. Lu visited several goat operations in Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. Most notable are one organic goat operation using bioactive plants to control disease, one extensive goat operation leveraging browsing, and one goat operation that improves and maintains the landscape diversity. To conform to organic standards and avoid using chemicals, one goat operation utilizes the abundant bioactive plants that have been used as Chinese medicine for centuries. They use water to dissolve bioactive compounds and deliver to goats as a supplemental drinking. The herd is in a remote mountain village and is one of the most well cared goat herds that Dr. Lu has ever seen around the world. Another herd, leveraging unique browsing ability of goats, is able to achieve an excellent productive performance without grain supplementation. Dr. Lu saw goats, the only ruminant to climb the trees, utilized their browsing skills with mobile upper lip, prehensile tongue and agile front legs to acquire the most nutritious part of plants.
During a trip across the mountainous terrain, Dr. Lu and the group reached a mountaintop that afforded them a view of the difference goats could make in maintaining the diversity of plant species. In contrast to the adjacent area that was dominated by weed species without goats, the area browsed and grazed by goats has a distinct even growth among plant species.