Project to conserve, popularise ‘Attappady Black’ goat breed

The Kerala State Biodiversity Board and the Animal Husbandry Department have taken up a project to conserve and popularise the endangered ‘Attappady Black’ goat reared in the hill tracts by the tribal people.

The breed, known as the poor man’s cow, is highly resistant to diseases and can adapt to extreme climatic conditions.

These goats are black in colour with peculiar adaptability to hot and dry climate and low quality roughage of hill tracts. “They can withstand the dry wind of Attappady and survive even on low quality roughage without much care and attention. They are immune to common goat diseases such as foot and mouth disease, pneumonia, enteritis, enterotoxaemia,” said N. Sudhodanan, Deputy Director of the department.

“Now this breed is considered endangered numbering below 5,000,” he said. Dr. Sudhodanan, who is overseeing a project for conserving the endangered ‘high range dwarf’ cattle species with the help of the National Biodiversity Board, has called for the attention of authorities to conserve this goat breed.

“This gene treasure could be protected by suitable conservation procedures. The Kerala State Biodiversity Board has initiated studies on the biodiversity of this Attappady black gold,” he said.

“Oommen V. Oommen, Chairman of Kerala State Biodiversity Board, has initiated steps to study phenotypic characteristics and chromosome mapping of this goat breed. Even steps for bar coding of DNA have been initiated,” Dr. Sudhodanan said.

A master plan for conserving these goats by strengthening and developing the Government Goat Farm at Attapady had been prepared. Structural reforms at the farm, including simplification of breeding procedures with the cooperation of tribal goat owners, would be taken up.

The Animal Husbandry Department started the goat farm in the eighties to provide employment opportunities to the tribal people of Attappady and propagate the native goat breed.

Dr. Sudhodanan said the farm was handed over to the Palakkad district panchayat in 1997 and now the flock strength was around 200, which is a good example of its neglect.

P.M. Ali Asgar Pasha, District Collector and the nodal officer for the Attappady Hill Area Development Society, was approached with projects to strengthen the farm, which could be transformed into a goat hub where conservation procedures could be initiated.

By improving irrigation, it could be possible to transform the area into a fodder bank to enable steady supply of fodder to the farm. A fodder research station should also be established. A check-dam at a nearby river could solve water scarcity during summer.

Purchasing goats from the tribal people and establishing satellite units to breed the species could improve the flock strength of the farm. Small breeding units in all households of Attappady could fetch good income for the people.

Along with the Attappady Black goats, Malabari goats and Jamunapari goats could be reared at the farm that could meet the demand of goat meat in the State, Dr. Sudhodanan said.

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