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Goat a member of the genus Capra, of the mammalian order Ungulata. There are about 300 breeds and varieties of goats domesticated in this subcontinent. The majority of goat varieties are found in the tropics and sub-tropics. There are about 30.33 million goats in Bangladesh. Black Bengal Goat comprises more than 90% of the total goat population; the remaining ones include the Jamunapari and their crosses.

Goat herd

More than 90% of the goats in Bangladesh are kept by rural people. The goat ranks second in position in terms of meat, milk, and skin production, representing about 28, 23, and 28 percent respectively of the total livestock in Bangladesh.Black Bengal Goat is widely distributed throughout Bangladesh and northeastern India (Assam and West Bengal). The predominant goat colour is black; brown, gray and white are also found. The goat hair is short, soft and lustrous. The back is straight, legs are short, ears 11-14 cm in size and pointed forward.

Both sexes have horns (5.8-11.5 cm), directed upward or sometimes backward. Beards are often observed in both sexes. The average height of an adult is 50 cm. The body being small, an adult buck's weight ranges from 16-18 kg and that of a doe, 12-14 kg.

The goat is important for its adaptability, fertility, prolificacy, delicious meat, and skin softness. The breed is early maturing with first kidding occurring at about 12 months. Does kid twice a year or thrice in two years. They have the potential for better fertility and litter size. Chevron (goat meat) is famous for tenderness, flavour, and leanness. Their skin is of superior quality for leather goods and is of great demand both in domestic and foreign markets. Black Bengal Goats are much more adaptive to our harsh environmental conditions and fluctuating supply of nutrients. Grazing on fallow lands, crop field dividers, roadsides and embankment are the only means of feeding the animals. They are best users of grasses, shrubs and various tree leaves, which have little alternative use. They can be reared easily without or with a little amount of supplement feed. In Bangladesh most goats are kept by women and children; consequently the production cost is minimum.

Economically and culturally, goat has been playing important role in the traditional Bangladesh society. Goat's skins were exported to world market on a large scale in the 18th and 19th centuries. [Quazi M Emdadul Huque]

See also cattle; leather industry; livestock.