Damascus goat is a breed of goat which is domesticated for its milk supply. This breed of goat is mainly raised in Cyprus, Lebanon, and Syria. The breed is popular by many names all over the world such as Aleppo, Baladi, Chami, Damascene, Halep, or Shami.
Why is Damascus goat raised?
Damascus is a very useful and multipurpose goat giving its owner high-quality milk in more than average quantity, meat, and fine leather. If provided proper care and fodder, the goat can produce a large amount of milk and can reproduce triplets or even quadruplets.
Milk produced by Damascus goat is proven to be markedly rich in protein and fat. The quality and composition of Damascus goat milk change according to the fodder received by the goat. The ability to generate high quality and quantity of milk even when the weather conditions were not so smooth and were rapidly changing made our Damascus goat the most preferred one especially in the Middle East.
The milk produced from these cows is typically used to produce labneh, Leben, yogurt, and other such things as fresh cheese for domestic purposes and is enough to sustain the family income.
Damascus goat is actually a native of the Middle East, and it has always been raised in large numbers throughout the area. In the nineteenth century, these goats were even exported by the British. They were then taken to Cyprus where they were treated as a very important domestic animal, fed well, and were raised in large amounts. That was the time, this breed picked up the name “Damascus”.
The Damascus goat was also mentioned in religions and folklore of many regions. And it was also mentioned in the classics of Arabic literature.
When Damascus goats are born, they have long ears which are twisted outwards as if they have flicked them out. They are generally in two-toned shades with various shades of reddish-brown and blonde and also they have fluffy coats. The strangest fact about them is as they grow up, from the cutest goat they turn into the ugliest goats. They are also known as “Monster goats”.
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As they are noble and have striking characteristics, the Damascus goats can be used for creating many goat breeds. In India, they are crossbred with Boer goats and Sirohi goats. Damascus goat has always been a popular choice due to its multipurpose (milk, meat, and leather). One of the advantages of the Damascus goat is its reproduction power i.e. it can produce 3-4 children at a time. Mix breeds of Damascus goat are found in some states of India like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
These animals are either horned or polled and always long-haired. They are raised in the region of Syria and Lebanon mainly for their milk production. They are of the Nubian type and are mostly red or brown in color.
Characteristics of Damascus goat
- The goat has a reddish-brown color which is usually covered by long hair of similar color. On some of these goats, there are white spots all over their legs, faces,s, and bodies. The rare color in this breed of goat is black and the black color goat can only appear if there is a presence of the recessive gene in the population.
- Damascus goat has long and pendulous ears which measure between 27cm -32 cm in length. They are quite huge in size as compared to other breeds of goats. At withers, Damascus goats have 97 cm to 99 cm body circumference and have an adult live weight of about 60-70 kg for the female breed and around 70-80 Kg for the male breed.
- If we want to generate a modern doe (female goat to reproduce) that will represent the original ancient beauty and ultimate qualities of Damascus, we must pay a great amount of attention to the development of well-attached and wide-udder, very smooth on the outside and soft from within. And we should choose the teats that point downwards and not the side ones as both hand and machine milking is done in a downward direction. If we choose the proper teat to extract the milk, the maximum amount of milk is produced and no milk is left in the lower part of the udder. But if the teats are pointing sideways then we should push it with hands during every milking to get the last half liter of milk present in it.
On the basis of milk production
- The fun fact is the sale of Damascus goat is not based on what amount of milk it will produce but on the basis of how it looks. Earlier, these goats were sold according to the placements of their teats but now the main attention is on their head. A goat with a nice head is sold at a higher price than the goat which provides more amount of milk.
- In the local goat industry, people have started recording daily milk yields. But if we talk about the well-established dairy cattle, they are recording the performance for so many years and as compared to that goat industry is in its infancy. There are not so many people right now domesticating goats and that is why there is no surety about the accuracy of the record.
- One of the main factors which are the mark of excellence for both male and female breeds of the goat is their ability to pass on their good traits to their offspring. That is why while making breeding choices, such goats are chosen.
Advantages of Damascus goat
- It is a multi-purpose breed. Can produce milk, meat, and leather.
- The breed of Damascus goat has a high FCR (Feed conversion) ratio.
- This particular goat breed can be fed with jack leaves and coconut oil cakes just to help them gain weight.
- The kids produced by Damascus goats are strong as their mothers have a high milk yield.
- Damascus breed matures and is ready for reproduction in a very less time.
- They can provide around 5 kg of milk per day, a lot more than any other breed of goats.
- Damascus goats are suitable for both open grazing and stall-fed.
- They can easily adapt to different kinds of climatic conditions.
- Damascus goats are a good source to earn money and that it is why in a rural area, they can help to reduce unemployment and in return provide very healthy and tasty milk.