THE total number of goats slaughtered at abattoirs monitored by the Department of Crop and Livestock dropped by 60% to 2 877 in the first quarter of this year due to economic volatility in the country, official statistics show. BY MTHANDAZO NYONI Data gathered from the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (Lmac) shows that the number of goats slaughtered in the first quarter of this year decreased by 60% and 76% over the corresponding periods in 2019 and 2018, respectively with the cost of processing through formal abattoirs believed to be a major deterrent. “Monthly goat slaughter patterns continue to reflect a high rate of volatility, indicative of the absence of substantive organised large-scale goat production in the country,” Lmac said in its latest market watch report. “The majority of goat production is conducted at a subsistence level and the low number of slaughters captured by the formal abattoirs as a percentage of total slaughters, reflects a reluctance towards usual formal channels as goat producers seek to minimise costs and resort to informal slaughters,” it said. Monthly goat slaughters for the first quarter declined in each consecutive month by 3%, 46% and 12%. The report also notes that in the period under review, goat super grade accounted for 13% of total slaughters, an increase of 6% in the corresponding period in 2019, while goat inferior grade accounted for 23%. In the first quarter of 2020, Mashonaland West province dominated slaughters, making up 19%, 39%, 42% for January, February and March, respectively, being 31% of total slaughters for the first quarter. Other provinces that made significant contributions were Midlands, Masvingo and Harare with 22%, 18% and 10% of total slaughters, respectively. Globally, goat meat exports by country totalled US$251,7 billion in 2019. Goat meat has become popular in Zimbabwe with many small-scale farmers, who traditionally kept cows, now keeping goats as a result of the devastating droughts. Experts say goats withstand drought conditions much better than cattle and they can survive on shrubs and need less manpower for tending, making them a better choice than high-maintenance bigger livestock like cows, which are less tolerant to drought conditions.