The Northeast Region of Brazil has 90% of the 10 million goats present in the country (Figure 1). The Northeast is characterized by an area of 981,821 km² of a semi-arid interior and 3,317 km of coastline, where it has the highest human population density and a large consumer market for products from this semi-arid region. Consumption occurs in specialized restaurants and bars in all areas of the Northeast region with several typical dishes.
It is difficult to produce large areas of forages in Northeast Brazil because this region has a low rainfall index. Nevertheless, a high diversity of native shrubs with elevated protein concentrations for goat production grow in that region. The ability of the goat to adapt to dry seasons, compared to other animal species, is the likely cause for the high concentration of goats in this semi-arid region. Nevertheless, several farmers believe that native shrubs are not sufficient for the maintenance of the animals. For this reason, native shrubs are frequently deforested for the planting of exotic grasses, which are easier to handle but show adaptation difficulties and easy degradation. Increasing goat production in this semi-arid area also faces the challenge of handling the various shrub species, which are phenologically and grazing capacity specific, which makes this diverse environment really difficult to understand and manage. In the last 20 years, several researchers have addressed the problem and the ability of native shrubs to feed ruminants, including goats. This has been demonstrated but due to the great flora diversity, studies for several plant species and their management are still lacking.
Brazil and more specifically the Brazilian Northeast show an extraordinary capacity for goat production, with an expansive herd and the upstream consumer market. Nonetheless, the challenges in animal production, mainly in feed management and in the control of gastrointestinal nematodes, should be considered priorities to increase goat production in the country.