Livestock Research for Rural Development 26 (7) 2014 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Socio-economic factors influencing goat milk production in the smallholder areas of Zimbabwe: A case study of Bulilima East District

T Chamboko, T Ziteya, N Muzanhindo and B T Hanyani-Mlambo

Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe


Although goat production occurs throughout the country, goat milk production is limited and is only undertaken in the semi-arid regions in the south western parts of the country. There however, has not been much attention given to goat milk production in the smallholder areas despite its nutritional, health, and potential for niche export markets. The objectives of this study were to (1) determine the main reasons for keeping goats and (2) analyze the socio-economic factors influencing goat milk production in the smallholder areas of Zimbabwe. A cross-sectional survey of 40 randomly selected households was performed in 2013 in two purposively selected wards (Wards 2 and 21) and two randomly selected villages in the Wards (Gwambe and Sikomvu, respectively) in Bulilima East District, in the main goat milk producing parts of the country. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the results and Ordinary Least Squares Regression was used to analyze the relationship between goat milk production and the socio-economic factors.


The results show that about 73% of the households mainly keep goats for cash income, 23% for meat and only 5% for milk production. About 50% of the households reported not milking their goats because they did not consume goat milk due to the taste and preference for other types of milk. Results of regression analysis show that cost of disease control and education level of the head of household were significant at 5%. The findings show that there is potential to stimulate goat milk production in the smallholder areas targeting improved disease control through accessibility of veterinary medicines and vaccines given that farmers educational level is  an important factor in goat milk production. Government can deliberately formulate strategies to introduce improved goat milk breeds and promote the development of para-veterinary programs to support goat milk production as a way of diversifying income sources and promoting the development and eventual commercialization of smallholder goat milk production enterprise in Zimbabwe.

Key words: dairy goat production, goat milk, keeps goats


The estimated world population of goats is over 924 million (FAOSTAT 2011). Countries in Europe and areas around the Mediterranean region have the most developed goat industry and dairy goat focused research. The Mediterranean area is the main goat milk and goat cheese producer (18%) outside of India (22%), which has the greatest goat milk volume of all countries, but keeps mainly dual purpose goats (meat and milk) (Dubeuf et al 2004).


In developing countries such as Zimbabwe, goats are sometimes viewed as the poor peoples’ animal and are primarily kept by smallholder farmers in marginal areas. Approximately 97% of the estimated 3.3 million goats in Zimbabwe are owned by smallholder farmers (van Rooyen et al 2007). The majority of goat breeds are indigenous, either of the smaller type (East African goat) found in the eastern and central parts of the country or the larger type (Matebele goat) of southern and western Zimbabwe, although there have been efforts to introduce improved breed such as the Angora goats.


Goats contribute significantly to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. Smallholder farmers’ rear goats for meat, milk, skins and manure production. They also rely on goats for income generation. Zimbabwean goats are also important for food security, and they act as a form of insurance during periods of crop failure. Goats are also slaughtered during religious and customary rites as well as festive occasions. Although goats contribute significantly to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, they were erroneously considered as a risk to the environment before Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 (Ndlovu 1994). As a result, support to the livestock sector was biased towards cattle production. Goat production was not encouraged and received little research and development (Ndlovu 1994). This policy was, however, reversed after independence in 1980 (Sibanda and Khombe 2006).  Despite this change in policy, like many developing countries, the negative image of goat dairy products and a lack of defined markets for goat milk have long been recognized as a handicap for organizing and appreciating an effective dairy goat sector (Debeuf et al 2004).This is also despite the fact that the composition of goats’ milk, for example, has been found to differ from cow or human milk in having better digestibility, alkalinity, buffering capacity and certain therapeutic values in medicine and human nutrition (Yangilar 2013).  It is against this background that the objectives of the study were (1) to ascertain the primary reasons for keeping goats in smallholder areas where goats are milked and (2) to determine and analyze the socio-economic factors influencing goat milk production in the smallholder areas of Zimbabwe.

Materials and methods

Study area


The study was conducted in Bulilima East District which lies in Matabeleland South Province and was purposively selected because milking of goats is a common practice. Two wards in the district were purposively selected for study on the basis of information provided by the local extension office of the Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex). One ward where the majority of farmers milked their goats (Ward 21) and another (Ward 2) where the majority of farmers do not milk their goats were selected.


Using a list of villages in each ward obtained from Agritex one village from each ward was randomly selected. The villages finally selected for study were Sibomvu village in Ward 21 and Gwambe village in Ward 2. The research targeted two villages only due to limited research resources available for the study. A list of goat owners in the two villages was obtained from the village head. Using simple random sampling, twenty households were selected from each village, giving a total of 40 households.


Data collection


Data were collected through interviews with the selected households using a questionnaire developed for the study. The questionnaire was designed to collect broad categories of data on (1) demographic characteristics of households (2) ownership and functions of goats (3) milk output and socioeconomic production constraints (4) labour management and cost of inputs and (5) health care management practices, costs and mortality.


Data Analysis


Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize socioeconomic indicators.  Multiple ordinary least squares regression was performed to assess factors influencing goat milk production. The econometric model used was:




Where Yi=volume of goat milk in litres produced by a goat per day.



             β1 - β5= beta coefficients.

            X1=number of education years attained by the household head.

            X2=number of years a farmer has been rearing goats.

            X3= cost of disease control per annum.

            X4= cost of labor inputs per month.

            X5=number of does.         

               =error term.


Demographic characteristics


The average age of household heads in the sample was 44 years. The average age of household head milking goats (48 years) was higher than that of farmers not milking goats (41years). The majority of household heads (90%) have received some formal education while none of the household heads had an agricultural qualification (Table 1).  


Table 1: Demographic characteristics of household head in Bulilima East District 2013


Households milking goats (n = 20)

Households not milking goats ( n= 20)

Total (N=40)

Household head




% Male




% Female




Education level of household head




% None




% Primary level




% Secondary level




% Tertiary level




% With an agricultural qualification








Mean age of household head (years)




Mean number of household members




Mean number of years in goat farming





Socio-economic characteristics related to goat milk production


Descriptive statistics for factors related to goat milk production in Bulilima East District are shown in Table 2. Each of the households had an average of 10 goats, with bucks estimated at 20% of the herd, does (60%) and kids (20%). The average volume of milk produced was 0.29 litres per doe per day. The cost of disease control per annum was about $18 per annum while labor inputs costs were about $ 35 per month (Table 2).


Table 2: Socio-economic factors related to goat milk production, Bulilima East District, Zimbabwe 2013



Std. dev.

Total number of goats



Number of bucks



Number of does



Number of kids



Average kid mortality



Cost of disease control per annum (USD)



Cost of labor inputs per month (USD)



Volume of goat milk produced (litres per goat per  day)




Main reasons for goat production


The main reason for keeping goats in the study area was income generation (reported by 73% of households), followed by meat production (23%) and milk production (5%) (Figure 1). On the other hand the main reasons for not milking goats were because households do not consume goat milk (50%), little quantities produced (45%) and cultural reasons (5%) (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Reasons for keeping goats

Figure 2: Reasons for not milking goats
 Socioeconomic factors influencing goat milk production


The results of the regression analysis are shown in Table 3.


Table 3: Results of Regression Analysis


Beta coefficient



X1 = number of education years attained by the household head




X3=cost of disease control per annum




X4 = cost of labour inputs per month




X5 = number of does




R = 0.81




R2 = 0.66




Adjusted R2 = 0.61




Durbin Watson  = 2.23.




β0= -0.018




** Significant at 5%.





The study shows that despite the potential goats in the smallholder areas of Zimbabwe are not kept primarily for milk production. The main reason for goat production is for income generation (about 73% of the households). This is mainly because the study area lies in natural agro-ecological region V which receives less than 450 of rainfall per annum. The region is not suitable for crop production and livestock production is the predominant type of enterprise. The region also carries 55% of the estimated three million goat population in Zimbabwe (MAMID 2012).  Van Rooyen (2009) also carried out a study on the importance of goats in the semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe and found that the main importance attached to goat production was income generation. This implies that goat milk production is secondary although the region has potential to diversify income sources to include this enterprise as a source of income for smallholder farmers given the goat population in the region. Results show that tastes and preference are an important determinant in the households’ decision to milk goats. This is in line with studies done by Boor et al (1987) in Kenya, Manyenga (1987), Mowlem (2005) in UK and Yangilar (2013) which indicated that the strong flavour and taste limited the consumption and market opportunities of goat milk. Yangilar (2013) notes that the origin of this misconception is due to poor sanitary conditions in which goats are milked and that goat milk products are poorly manufactured.


The econometric results show that the costs of disease control and number of years of household head education were the significant socio-economic factors influencing goat milk production. Cost of labor inputs and the number of does were not significant. The adjusted R2 was 0.61 indicating that the cost of disease control and number of years of education of the household head explains 61% of the variation in goat milk output. These results are similar to empirical studies performed in Kenya which showed that cost of disease control and number of education years attained are factors that significantly affect goat milk production (Kipresem et al 2011).  Ogola et al (2010) in another study in Kenya also found the level of education attained to significantly affect milk production. In addition, Ogola et al (2010) also found dairy goat farmers in Kenya were not following recommended routine disease management practices due to high costs associated with drugs which affected dairy goat farming.


The results also show that cost of labor inputs and number of does were not significant factors in influencing goat milk production. These findings are, however in disagreement with the research findings obtained in Keiyo North and Keiyo South districts of Kenya (Kipresem et al 2011).  Possible explanation lies in the fact that most of goat production is free range with minimum supervision. Due to resource constraints, the sample of respondents was probably not big enough in order to detect significant differences.



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Received 5 March 2014; Accepted 20 June 2014; Published 1 July 2014

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