Livestock Research for Rural Development 21 (11) 2009 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Health and nutrition practices among smallholder sheep and goat farmers in Ogun State Nigeria

M Anaeto, G O Tayo, G O Chioma, A O Ajao and T A Peters

Department of Agriculture, Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria


The study was conducted in Ikenne Local Government area in Ogun State to determine the socio-economic characteristics of smallholder goat and sheep farmers as well as the health and nutrition practices employed in their livestock management. One hundred respondents were interviewed using structured questionnaires and participatory rapid appraisal approach to obtain data.


Results show that 70% of the respondents were females, with no formal education (65%) and in their middle ages. Disease incidences reported were 26% diarrhea, 20% helminthiasis, 30% pneumonia, 18% ectoparasite and 15% sudden death. Ninety one percent of the respondents treated their animals with herbs and only 8% consulted with a veterinarian. All respondents fed their animals with kitchen waste and 74.7% fed cassava peels at least once a day. Concentrate and mineral supplement were not included in the diet of the animals. The smallholder sheep and goat farmers were encouraged to adopt improved livestock management practices to increase their productivity. 

Key words: Disease, feeding pattern, livestock, management


Goats play an important socio-economic role in the rural areas, where most of the resource poor farmers in Africa live. The role of goats in traditional areas has been highlighted (Wilson 1988).  Small ruminants have been reported to form an integral part of the cultural life and system of Nigeria's peasantry (Ajala 2004). The structure of the Nigerian livestock industry is such that 80-90% of the nation's livestock lies in the hand of small holders or other traditional groups (Olaloku 1999). According to Momoh and Ochaba (2002), subsistence animal agriculture is the main contributor to the meat industry in Nigeria. This consists of small herds and flocks in the rural, urban and peri-urban areas. According to Njoku’s (2005) statistics revealed that 99.75% of cattle, 99.97% of goats, 99.84% of sheep, 90.75% of pigs and 86.17% of chickens are traditionally managed. These figures indicate that more than half of Nigeria's livestock is managed traditionally. Any effort to raise the level of meat production in the country must take into consideration these farming communities. Shaib et al (1997) stated that there is a pressing need to increase the production of domestic animals, which are conventional sources of animal protein, such as the small ruminants, to overcome the acute shortage of animal protein in the diet of the average Nigerian.


The major problems of livestock production in Nigeria include housing, health and feeding (Doma et al 1999) According to Ajala (2004), high incidence of diseases is one of the major constraints associated with small ruminant production.  


Jawara (1990) posited that the economic losses resulting from stunted growth, debility, poor reproductive performance or death in affected animals are unquantifiable.


The detrimental role which parasitic diseases play in livestock production has been emphasized (Lamorde 1996). Losses are due to mortality, lowering of reproductive rate, weight loss and increased cost of production due to additional veterinary bills. Animals in discomfort or pain are likely to be less productive than their healthy counterparts. Maintaining livestock in good state of health is a very important aspect of livestock production.  Nutrition is also important because the gains of selective breeding, proper management and disease control can only be realized with an adequate plan of nutrition. It was therefore, the aim of this study to assess the health and nutrition practices among the smallholder livestock farmers.  This paper also reports the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers in Ikenne Local Government Area, Remo,  Ogun State, Nigeria.


Materials and methods 

The study was carried out in Ikenne Local Government Area (LGA) of Ogun State in Nigeria. The area lies along latitude 6o.43'E and longitude 6o. 51'N  of the equator in the south western part of Nigeria. The annual rainfall is 1,500 mm and the mean annual temperature and sunshine is about 27oC and 2100-2350 hrs respectively, depending on the season. Primary data were collected from respondents who were selected by simple random sampling technique. 


Two towns were selected from the five towns in Ikenne LGA. These are Ikenne-Remo and Ilishan-Remo and two wards with high concentration of small ruminants were selected from the two towns. A structured questionnaire and participatory rapid appraisal technique (Paris 1994) were used for data collection. The data obtained were analyzed using descriptive statistics.


Results and discussion 

Seventy percent (70%) of the farmers were females (Table 1).

Table 1.   Socio-economic characteristics of the smallholder goat and sheep farmers in Ikenne LGA



Age, Year






60 and above








Marital Status






Educational Status


University Education


Secondary School Education


No formal Education




Civil Servant






Average flock size


Goat, mean


Sheep, mean


This is similar to observations reported elsewhere ( Sumberg and Cassaday 1985; Oladele 2001). Results also indicated that all respondents were adults and majority of them were within the age bracket of 41-60 years. This observation could be attributed to rural-urban migration of young men for white collar jobs. Ninety- six percent (96%) of total respondents were married - indicating that small holder livestock production in the area is common among married couples. Majority of the respondents (65%) had no formal education. All respondents had other occupations alongside livestock production. This agrees with the findings of Odeyinka and Okunmade (2005) that smallholder livestock production is a part time business. Dar et al (1996) stated that small ruminant production offers prospect in augmenting the dwindling supply of meat and milk in the country by providing additional income to families of smallholders and optimizing utilization of farm resources. The mean flock size for goat was 3.9 while for sheep it was 3. Gefu et al (1994) reported a mean flock size per household of 2.4 and 6.2 for sheep and goat in Anambra State. Adu et al (2004) also reported that 72.6% of the respondents sampled had herd size below ten. The low herd size may be due to financial constraints, large amount of labor required for operation of large herd size, lack of access to farmland and the part- time nature of the business.


The common diseases affecting the flock are presented in Table 2. 

Table 2.  Prevalent diseases and animals health management practices in Ikenne LGA



Common diseases






Nasal Discharge (Kata)             




Sudden Death                                            


Consulted with a Veterinarian


Used Herbs


Herb type


 Spondias mombin  “Efinrin”   


 Ocimum basilium  “Ewe Iyeye”


The diseases encountered were diarrhea , helminthiasis, ectoparasite, pneumonia and sudden death. This corroborated the findings of Otesile et al (1983); Obudu et al (1995); Otchere et al (1987) that helminthiasis, pneumonia, bacteria enteritis (diarrhoea) and "kata" were responsible for over 83.3% of the total cause of death in goats in Nigeria. Majority of the respondents did not have housing units for the animals. Goats and sheep slept within the premises of the household at night. Similar observations were reported in Oyo state by Odeyinka and Okunmade (2005).  The animals usually slept on bare ground and this makes them susceptible to ectoparasites infestation and pneumonia. The cases of sudden death may be due to snakebites, consumption of poisonous plants or acute diseases.  From the survey, only 8% of the respondents consulted with a veterinarian regarding the health of their animals, while majority of the farmers (91%) used herbs for treating their animals. Asafa et al (2004) reported that majority of the goat raisers employed the local means for treating their animals, such means include the application of used engine oil in the treatment of mange and the dropping of oil on the digits of animals infected with foot rot.  Their survey revealed high cost of medication as the major reason why traditional methods were sought after. Farmers in Ikenne-Remo and Ilisan-Remo used herbs to treat their animals. Leaves of Spondias mombin were used in the treatment of delayed parturition and poor milking by providing leaves for the goats to chew. Ocimum basilium leaves mixed with water plus table salt was administered orally to animals with diarrhea and Carica papaya seed was used for the treatment of worms.


Table 3 shows the feeding pattern in smallholder livestock production in the study area.

Table 3.  Feeding pattern in smallholder livestock production in Ikenne LGA



Feed offered


Cassava peels


Maize starch residue


Kitchen waste /feed left over


Cassava/ cocoyam


Cut and carry forage


Mineral supplement


Fed mineral supplement  (No)




Fed concentrate (No)


Feed sources


Purchased from the market


Farm/ kitchen left over


Cut and carry forage


Feed availability




Readily available


Not available


Frequency of feeding










Supplied  water


Livestock attendant


Livestock owner


Family members


Results show that all respondents fed their livestock with kitchen wastes and 74.7% fed cassava peels. This may be because these feed resources are readily available. The study area is a community noted for the processing of cassava, hence availability of cassava peels from the farm and homes of the producers.  Only (4.0 %) fed their livestock with maize starch residues. This may indicate that maize is less processed and consumed in the area. A few respondents (4.0 %) also fed cassava or cocoyam as livestock feed. Cocoyam and cassava form part of the staple food of members in the sampled area. Therefore, competition between man and animals make these feedstuffs less available and more expensive to be used as livestock feed. The animals were neither given concentrate nor mineral supplements.  The Semi- intensive system of management was the most common method of production among respondents, as the animals were allowed to scavenge during the day with kitchen waste or cassava peels given at nighttime or in the morning. Most of the respondents fed their animals’ daily and water was provided. Family labor was mostly employed in the management of the animals. These findings agree with Nweke and Ezumah (1988) that family labor and other resources are largely provided by household members.  It was observed that the animals were not provided with proper housing and scavenging was a common practice. According to Obinne (1996), most of the small - scale livestock producers (69%) did not realize much income from raising livestock, probably because about 92% did not adopt improved livestock management practices.


The participatory rapid appraisal revealed poor management such as poor housing and feeding, no health care program and no improved breed to upgrade their animals. Some of the strengths in the study area include their use of family labor, the availability of grasslands, availability of cassava peels and the West African dwarf breed that are well adapted to the environment.





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Received 20 June 2009; Accepted 15 September 2009; Published 1 November 2009

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