Introductory Chapter: Is There a Future for Goat Pastoral Systems?



Raising goats is associated with poverty and economical calculations show that intensification increases the profitability of goat pastoral systems in a wide array of ecological conditions. A goat pastoral system is analogous to a pearl necklace where one tries to replace several pearls without letting the remaining pearls fall around. Goat adaptation to harsh pastoral conditions is based on specific behaviors, including feeding behaviors, response to predators, and possibly self-medication behaviors transmitted from mothers to offspring that we term collectively “goat culture”. Introduction of managerial changes should be designed in ways that will not disrupt goat culture. The new genomics technologies could be instrumental in identifying genes associated with anatomical and physiological adaptations to harsh environments. Pastoral systems are associated with an intimate knowledge of ethno-veterinary and medical practices and there is a risk that this knowledge is lost in the intensification process. Finally, evidence accumulates that goat pastoral systems, when well managed, provide a wide array of ecological services: fire prevention in brushland and woodland, landscape enhancement, and increased biodiversity. Simplistic economic evaluations have overlooked these societal contributions which should be quantified and paid for explicitly.


  1. Ajmone-Marsan P, Colli L, Han JL et al (2014) The characterization of goat genetic diversity: towards a genomic approach. Small Rumin Res 121(1):58–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amat-Montesinos X (2017) Landscape and heritage of the transhumance in Spain. Challenges for a sustainable and responsible tourism. In: Colloque international: innovations sociales en tourisme, en patrimoine et dans les musees, Quebec, Canada, 11–12 May 2017Google Scholar
  3. Amit M, Cohen I, Marcovics A et al (2013) Self-medication with tannin-rich browse in goats infected with gastro-intestinal nematodes. Vet Parasitol 198:305–311CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Arviv A, Muklada H, Kigel J et al (2016) Targeted grazing of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) by goats: preference following preconditioning, generational transfer, and toxicity. Appl Anim Behav Sci 179:53–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Asante BO, Villano RA, Battese GE (2017) Integrated crop-livestock management practices, technical efficiency and technology ratios in extensive small ruminant systems in Ghana. Livest Sci 201:58–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Biquand S, Biquand-Guyot V (1992) The influence of peers, lineage and environment on food selection of the criollo goat. Appl Anim Behav Sci 43:231–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bourbouze A, Rubino R (1992) Grandeur, decadence et renouveau sur les terres utilisees en commun dans les pays de la Mediterranee. In: Bourbouze A, Rubino R (eds) Terres collectives et domaniales en Mediterranee: Legislation, modes d’utilisation par les animaux et perspectives FAO. Ars grafica pub., Villa d’Agri, Italy, pp 11–23Google Scholar
  8. Chiejina SN, Behnke JM (2011) The unique resistance and resilience of the Nigerian West African Dwarf goat to gastrointestinal nematode infections. Parasit Vectors 4:12. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Gama LT, Bressan MC (2011) Biotechnology applications for the sustainable management of goat genetic resources. Small Rumin Res 98(1):133–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. García RR, Celaya R, García U et al (2012) Goat grazing, its interactions with other herbivores and biodiversity conservation issues. Small Rumin Res 107(2):49–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Garcia-Gonzalez R, Cuartas P (1989) A comparison of the diets of the wild goat (Capra pyrenaica), domestic goat (Capra hircus), mouflon (Ovis musimon) and domestic sheep (Ovis aries) in the Cazorla mountain range. Acta Biol Mont 9:123–132Google Scholar
  12. Gaspar P, Escribano AJ, Mesías FJ et al (2011) Goat systems of Villuercas-Ibores area in SW Spain: problems and perspectives of traditional farming systems. Small Rumin Res 97(1):1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Glasser TA, Ungar ED, Landau SY et al (2009) Breed and maternal effects on the intake of tannin-rich browse by juvenile domestic goats (Capra hircus). Appl Anim Behav Sci 119:71–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gradé JT, Tabuti JRS, Van Damme P (2009) Four footed pharmacists: indications of self-medicating livestock in Karamoja, Uganda. Econom Bot 63:29–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hadaya O, Landau SY, Glasser TA et al (2017) Milk composition in Damascus, Mamber and F1 Alpine crossbred goats under grazing or confinement management. Small Rumin Res 153:31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kababya D, Adar K (2008) Walking with the goats. Nekudat Hen, the Rothschild foundation. Retrieved from,%20%d7%9b%d7%9c%d7%99%d7%9c%20%d7%90%d7%93%d7%a8.pdf. Accessed 5 Sept. 2017. Hebrew, with a detailed English summary
  17. Landau S, Molle G (2009) Grazing livestock, our connection to grass: a Mediterranean insight. Why they eat what they eat, and how it affects us. In: Seckbach J, Dubinsky Z (eds) All flesh is grass. Plant-animal interrelationships. Springer Pub, NY, US, pp 217–236Google Scholar
  18. Landau SY, Muklada H, Abu-Rabia A et al (2014) Traditional Arab ethno-veterinary practices in small ruminant breeding in Israel. Small Rumin Res 119:161–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Levin N, Watson JEM, Joseph LN et al (2013) A framework for systematic conservation planning and management of Mediterranean landscapes. Biol Conserv 158:371–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leytón JM, Vicente ÁM (2012) Biological fire prevention method: evaluating the effects of goat grazing on the fire-prone Mediterranean scrub. Forest Sys 21(2):199–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nahed J, Castel JM, Mena Y et al (2006) Appraisal of the sustainability of dairy goat systems in Southern Spain according to their degree of intensification. Livest Sci 101(1):10–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Parkes J, Henzell R, Pickles G (1999) Managing vertebrate pests: feral goats. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  23. Peacock C (2005) Goats-A pathway out of poverty. Small Rumin Res 60(1):179–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sherratt A (1983) The secondary exploitation of animals in the old world. World Archaeol 15:90–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Silanikove N (2000) The physiological basis of adaptation in goats to harsh environments. Small Rumin Res 35(3):181–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Yakubu A, Salako AE, Donato MD et al (2016) Interleukin-2 ((IL-2) gene polymorphism and association with heat tolerance in Nigerian goats. Small Rumin Res 141:127–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural ResourcesAgricultural Research OrganizationBet DaganIsrael

Personalised recommendations