Mahmoud Vatankhah (1), Nader Papi (2), Farhad Mirzaei (2)
(1) Animal Science Research Department, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, AREEO, Shahrekord, Iran.
(2) Agricultural Research Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Animal Science Research Institute of Iran, Karaj.
History of goat breeding in the province
There are more than seven thousand years of history of animal husbandry in the Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari provinces. Perhaps the start of animal husbandry in this province was by pastoralists utilizing access to forage sources for livestock. Small animals (sheep and goats) were the focus in these provinces. The Bakhtiari area is where humans domesticated animals and plants for the first time. Also, some animals, especially goats, were tamed for the first time in the mountains of Bakhtiari.
Geographic distribution areas
The Bakhtiari black goat breed is one of the most popular in Iran. Although this breed is distributed across provinces in the Zagros Mountains, this population is mainly located in the western and southwestern parts of Iran, especially in the Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Lorestan and Khuzestan provinces.
The population of this breed in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province is about 1 million heads now. In recent years, the number of Bakhtiari black goats has dropped due to the decline of pasture and rangeland species.
The types of rearing systems
The three most common goat-rearing systems in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari provinces are nomadic, village and farming, respectively. Although the keeping of goats in village and farming systems is growing due to reducing pastures and grassland coverages, the keeping of goats in the intensive rearing system is not utilized in this province.
Some 14,034 households are directly engaged in rearing goats or a combination of sheep and goats. In addition, more than 10,000 people are indirectly involved in handicrafts, sales, supply and distribution of input and output.
The cultural, social and economic relations with nomadic and rural communities
Due to meat, milk and hair production, rearing Bakhtiari black goats in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province is considered triple-purpose. The meat produced by kids of this breed is crisp, low-fat and has a popular taste and smell, second to the lamb meat in the province. The milk produced by this breed has particular popularity among the region’s people. Milk produced by Bakhtiari black goats is rarely sold as raw milk, even though it garners more than two to three times the price of milk produced by other livestock.
Goat milk is sold mainly after converting it to products such as yogurt, cheese, fat, whey, and Qara, and it earns more than three times the price of raw goat’s milk. Products derived from goat milk are popular among consumers inside and outside the province. The price of goat milk products is several times more than those from other livestock, and most of the products are pre-purchased from the farmers, so these products are rarely available for purchase. The hair produced by goats also has many socio-economic applications in making handicrafts and houses in the tribes. Bakhtiari nomads live in black tents called “Buhon.” To make the black tents, they use the hair of goats, which prevents the cracks caused by some parasites (Lepidoptera such as Tincola biseliella).
Although the fiber cover of this breed is mainly black, a variety of colors from white light to dark and hybrid schemes can be seen (piebald, brunette, gray, red spots, etc.) in this breed. This breed of goat is agile and wise with a large size.
Since the meat produced by kids is crisp and low-fat with a pleasant taste and smell, many male kids of this breed are exported in official and unofficial ways to the Persian Gulf Arabic countries each year.
Items used for products
Meat produced by Bakhtiari black goats is a valuable protein source for the local people. The milk these goats produce is typically converted to other dairy derivatives, i.e., yogurt, cheese, fat, whey, Qara and has significant importance in the food security of nomadic and village people. The hair produced by these goats also has many applications in making handicrafts and houses in the tribes. Bakhtiari nomads live in black tents called “Buhon.” Using goat hair to make these tents prevents moths (such as Tincola biseliella). The goat’s hair expands during rainfall and humidity, preventing cold weather from penetrating. It also shrinks in warm weather to allow cooler air inside the tent. The goat skins have two significant applications. When the skins are used as water bottles to transport or store the juice, this use is called “Khik.” Another is called “Mashk,” which is for milk products such as yogurt, butter, etc.
Measures for identifying and genetic improvement
Currently, no specific plan has been developed and implemented for identifying and improving the genetics of Bakhtiari black goats. The genetic diversity of six Iranian native goat breeds (Markhoz, Rayini, Southern Khorasan, Black Bakhtiari, Najdi and Tali) was studied in 2001 using RAPD markers. Also, the breeding objectives and economic values of different traits were defined to construct an economic selection index in a research project on the different rearing systems (nomadic, village and farming) in 2009.
Suggestions for ways to improve performance
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.