Kano Brown Goat

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The basics:
In the older literature, the Kano Brown Goat of Nigeria is often grouped together with the Sokoto Red Goat and the Maradi goat from Niger. However, since 2005 the Kano Brown is now considered as a separate ecotype of the Sahelian Goat (what we would call a breed), and is treated as a genetic resource separate from the other breeds.

The Kano Brown is most typically raised by the Hausa (Ah-oo-sa) peoples of the Kano State of Nigeria and by far the commonest meat breed in the country. Kano State is a semi-arid areas with a single annual rainfall season of 4-6 months duration (the rainy season).

The breed is of extreme economic importance as it provides the majority of the goat meat in Nigeria and it's transported country-wide. Indeed, you cannot go to any livestock market in Lagos or any other city or large town without seeing hundreds of Kano Brown Goats being trucked in. The goats are often used as currency and local governments have even used them as payment to families to persuade them to keep girls in education.

Appearance / health:
The Kano Brown Goat is classed as a medium-sized animal and is about the same size as the Sokoto Red (from which they are descended) but are bulkier and less skinny in appearance, as befits a goat bred for its meat. They are of relatively short size (and may have been crossed with the Nigerian Dwarf Goat). A typical female stands 54–65cm tall at the weathers, the male is slightly taller, measuring some 60–65cm tall.

These goats are characterized by their fine heads and prominent foreheads. The mucous membranes of the mouth are black. They have short bodies and proportionally long and flexible necks (which help them browse). The ears are short, of medium width and are usually carried horizontally. The males have long beards of profuse hair and the whole head can be hairy. The males also have a mane of hair that extends to the shoulders. Both males and females have short horns. The coats are short and glossy and range in colour from ruddy brown to chestnut. Tail hairs are typically black. The males are typically darker than the females and may have a black stripe along the back. The udder is full and rounded with well spaced teats. It is much less divided than the udder of other Nigerian goat breeds.

This is an extremely hardy breed, with good levels of resilience (though they need shade during the hottest part of the day). It is also known to be a very healthy breed and its diverse gene pool means that congenital diseases are almost unknown. The semi-arid nature of its typical habitat also means that infectious diseases are very uncommon. It should be noted though that the Kano Brown Goats are more prone to mastitis than other Nigerian goat breeds and this is something to look out for.

Behavior / temperament:
Goats are curious, social and intelligent animals and the Kano Brown Goat is especially so, as it tends to be managed more protectively than some other West African breeds. They therefore interact with humans frequently during the day. This is a gentle breed that is easy to manage. Like all goats, the Kano Brown Goat is very sure footed and will even climb trees to forage. Their long necks also meant that they are active browsers. Like all goats they investigate their environment with their mouths, so if you approach them be ready to be chewed upon.

Housing / diet:
Kano Brown Goats are deemed very valuable and they are typically penned in or near to the village. They are never kept indoors, but where they graze is managed, typically by having a village child shepherd them. They are well-adapted to the semi-arid environments where they are typically raised. They need shelter during the hottest part of the day but are typically left in tree shade during this time.

The Kano Brown Goat is a non-discerning grazer and can subsist on rough grass, shrubs and trees. Sometimes their feed is supplemented with maize and millet, but typically they are allowed to graze and browse as they will. They are quite prolific milk producers and need plenty of water when being milked or raising kids.

Written by Dyfed Lloyd Evans

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