MARIA WURZINGER1, SILKE ZEITELHOFER2, JOHANN SÍLKNER1, LUIS LĐIGUEZ3, MONIKA ZAKLOUTA3, MUHI EL-DIN HILALI3, SAFUH RIHAWI3
1University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Austria
2University of Vienna, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Austria
3International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Syria
The Syrian goat population amounts to approximately 1 million head. Goats are distributed all over the country, but found particularly in the mountains of Western and South of Syria.The predominant goat type (breed) in these regions is called Jabali goat. Little is known about the characterisation of this goat and the associated production systems. A study was designed to characterise the production system, identifying major constraints, assess the role and contribution of the Jabali goat to the livelihood of poor farmers and obtain a phenotypic description of the goat. Two study areas were identified: Al Ghab near the city of Hama, in northern Syria, and Al Sweida in the far South. In each area participatory workshops (PWs) were held separately for women and men farmers in view of previous information on labour division. In the PWs participatory rural appraisal tools and methods such as mapping, seasonal calendar building, ranking and design of problem trees, were used. The PWs were followed by individual visits to 20 farmers in each of the two areas described above, interviewing separately women and men on the basis of a simple questionnaire. During these visits the herd structure was inspected, the health status assessed, and body measurements and fibre samples were taken from 5 to 10 adult animals per herd. For most families goat keeping was not the only source of income. Main reason for keeping goats was milk production. The milk is transformed in traditional products including yoghurt and yoghurt derivatives, and ghee (butter). Major production problems identified by farmers involved shortage of grazing areas, disease control and marketing of dairy products. The milking season starts in March or April and lasts until September. A strict labour division is followed in the production cycle. Men and boys work as herdsmen, whereas women are responsible for milking and milk processing. The Jabali goat is of medium size with short to medium long ears and a straight nose profile. The coat colour varies and could be entirely black, brown or white. Black is the predominant colour.
Keywords: Jabali goat, phenotypic description, PRA, production system, Syria