Under conventional husbandry conditions, Matabele goats kid all year round and, as they receive no supplementary feed, they are frequently exposed to periods of feed scarcity. The aim of this experiment was to determine maternal and foetal responses to different feeding levels during pregnancy.
The work was carried out at the Thuli Breeding Station, in Matebeleland, south western Zimbabwe. Forty-two Matebele goats carrying single kids were individually penned and randomly allocated to each of three treatments as they reached week 14 of gestation. The treatments were; Low (L)=0.25 MJ ME / kg0.75, Medium (M)=1.5xL and High (H)=2.5xL. Whole maize grain, lucerne hay and veld hay (see Table 1) were offered at levels calculated to provide 0.2, 0.24 and 0.56 of the total ME. Drinking water and an iodized mineral lick were available to all goats ad libitum. Feed intake was measured daily. Does were weighed and body condition scored (on a scale of 1-10) weekly and within 8 hours of parturition. Kids were weighed at or soon after birth.