Adaptation of Local Meat Goat Breeds to South African Ecosystems



Meat goats play an important role in terms of food security, socio-economic welfare and cultural importance in South Africa. The meat goat industry is differentiated into a formal, commercial market served by mainly three breeds (Boer goat, Savanna and Kalahari Red) and an informal, mostly communal industry where unimproved indigenous veld goats are kept. Goats are mostly farmed within the grassland, savanna and Karoo biomes, in extensive production systems. The meat goat breeds are well-adapted to the harsh extensive farming systems in which most of them are farmed, which are characterized by limited feed and water resources, extreme temperatures and a high prevalence of diseases and parasites. The indigenous goat has superior adaptability with regards to extremely challenging environments. The commercial breeds have been subjected to artificial selection and have limited participation in the South African small stock improvement scheme, while almost no effort has been made to improve the indigenous veld goat or to conserve its unique genetic attributes.


  1. Alexandre G, Mandonnet N (2005) Goat meat production in harsh environments. Small Rumin Res 60(1–2):53–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Campbell Q (1995) Indigenous goats. In: Campbell Q (ed) The indigenous sheep and goat breeds of South Africa. Dreyer printers and publishers, Bloemfontein, South Africa, pp 35–44Google Scholar
  3. Casey NH, Webb EC (2010) Managing goat production for meat quality. Small Rumin Res 89(2–3):218–224Google Scholar
  4. Campbell QP (2003) The origin and description of southern Africa’s indigenous goats. S Afr J Anim Sci 4(1):18–22Google Scholar
  5. Chenyambuga SW, Hanotte O, Hirbo J et al (2004) Genetic characterization of indigenous goats of Sub-Saharan Africa using microsatellite DNA markers. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci 17(4):445–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. DAFF (2015) A profile of the South African goat market value chain. Directorate: Marketing, Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  7. DAFF (2016a) Newsletter: national livestock statistics. Directorate: Statistics and Economic Analysis, Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  8. DAFF (2016b) Economic review of the South African agriculture. Directorate: Statistics and Economic Analysis, Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  9. Devendra C, Solaiman SG (2010) Perspectives on goats and global production. In: Solaiman SG (ed) Goat science and production. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, Iowa, USA, pp 3–20Google Scholar
  10. Dube K, Muchenye V, Mupungwa JF (2016) Inbreeding depression and simulation of production potential of the communally raised indigenous Xhosa lop eared goats. Small Rumin Res 144:164–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Du Toit CJL, Van Niekerk WA, Meissner HH (2013) Direct greenhouse gas emissions of the South African small stock sectors. S Afr J Anim Sci 43(3):240–361Google Scholar
  12. Erasmus JA (2000) Adaptation to various environments and resistance to disease of the Improved Boergoat. Small Rumin Res 36:179–187CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoon JJ (1999) Vegetation and animal production in South Africa. Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute. Available at:
  14. Malan SW (2000) The improved Boer goat. Small Rumin Res 36:165–170CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Maree C, Casey NH (1993) Livestock production systems. Agri Development Foundation, Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  16. Mdladla K, Dzomba EF, Huson HJ et al (2016) Population genomic structure and linkage disequilibrium analysis of South African goat breeds using genome-wide SNP data. Anim Genet 47(4):471–482CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Mirkena T, Duguma G, Haile A et al (2010) Genetics of adaptation in domestic animals: a review. Livest Sci 132(1–3):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mohlatlole RP, Dzomba EF, Muchadeyi FC (2015) Addressing production challenges in goat production systems of South Africa: the genomics approach. Small Rumin Res 13:43–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Olivier JJ, Cloete SWP, Schoeman SJ et al (2005) Performance testing and recording in meat and dairy goats. Small Rumin Res 60:83–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pieters A, Van Marle-Köster E, Visser C et al (2009) South African developed meat type goats: a forgotten animal genetic resource? Anim Genet Resour 44:33–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ramsey KA (2016) Draft National goat development strategyGoogle Scholar
  22. Scheepers RC, van Marle-Köster E, Visser C (2010) Genetic variation in the kappa-casein gene of South African goats. Small Rumin Res 93:53–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schoeman SJ, Cloete SWP, Olivier JJ (2010) Returns on investment in sheep and goat breeding in South Africa. Livest Sci 130(1–3):70–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Silanikove N (2000) The physiological basis of adaptation in goats in harsh environments. Small Rumin Res 35:181–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Simela L, Merkel R (2008) The contribution of chevon from Africa to global meat production. Meat Sci 80(1):101–109CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Sambraus HH (1992) Goats. In: Sambraus HH (ed) A colour atlas of livestock breeds. Wolfe Publishing, Germany, pp 137–156Google Scholar
  27. Tainton NM (1999) Veld management in South Africa. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  28. Tosser-Klopp G, Bardou P, Bouchez O et al (2014) Design and characterization of a 52 K SNP chip for goats. PLoS ONE 9:e86227. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. United Nations (UN) (2012) World population prospects: the 2012 revision. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Available at:
  30. United Nations (UN) (2014) World urbanization prospects: the 2014 revision, highlights (ST/ESA/SER.A/352). Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population DivisionGoogle Scholar
  31. Visser C, Hefer CA, van Marle-Köster E et al (2004) Genetic variation of three commercial and three indigenous goat populations in South Africa. S Afr J Anim Sci 34(1):24–27Google Scholar
  32. Visser C, Van Marle-Köster E (2009) Genetic variation of the reference population for quantitative loci research in South African Angora goats. Anim Genet Resour 45:113–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Visser C, Van Marle-Köster E (2014) Strategies for the genetic improvement of South African Angora goats. Small Rumin Res 121(1):89–95Google Scholar
  34. Webb EC, Casey NH, Simela L (2005) Goat meat quality. Small Rumin Res 60:153–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Webb EC, Mamabolo MJ (2004) Production and reproduction characteristics of South African indigenous goats in communal farming systems. S Afr J Anim Sci 34(1):236–239Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal and Wildlife SciencesUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations