Developing a meat goat performance testing program


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This presentation by University of Maryland Extension Sheep & Goat Specialist Susan Schoenian discusses the University of Maryland's meat goat performance testing program.

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Developing a meat goat performance testing program

  1. 1. Developing a meat goat performance-testing program in Maryland<br />S. Schoenian1, J. Semler1, J. Dietz-Band1, D. Gordon1, W. Lantz1, M. Bennett2, and D. O’Brien3<br />1University of Maryland2West Virginia University3Delaware State University<br />
  2. 2. The meat goat industry continues to grow.<br />2002  2007 Ag Census42% growth in Maryland <br />One limitation to profitability is poor-performing goats.<br />Most selection and breeding decisions are based on visual appraisal of non-fitness traits.<br />Introduction<br />
  3. 3. To assist meat goat producers in identifying genetically- superior bucks and developing more profitable meat goat enterprises.<br />Overall objectives<br />
  4. 4. Central performance test<br />100-day pasture-test<br />Annual Field Day & Sale<br />Sale of top-performing bucks<br />Educational program<br />Invitational doe sale<br />Youth skillathon<br />Carcass evaluation<br />Materials and methods<br />
  5. 5. The Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test was initiated in 2006 at the University of Maryland’s Western Maryland Research & Education Center (WMREC) in Keedysville, MD.<br />It is the only pasture-only small ruminant performance test in the United States.<br />Central performance test<br />
  6. 6. Open to consigners from any state.<br />Accept up to five weanling male goats per consigner.<br />Any breed or breed cross.<br />With or without registration papers or eligibility.<br />Half-sibs recommended. <br />Born between December 15 and March 20.<br />Weigh between 35 and 70 lbs. (16-32 kg).<br />Weaned for at least two weeks.<br />Vaccinated twice for CD-T.<br />Eligibility<br />Nomination period: April 1 - May 15<br />
  7. 7. Test protocol: management<br />Pasture-only diet.<br />Managed as a single group.<br />12-day adjustment period.<br />Rotationally-grazed among five two acre paddocks composed of orchardgrass, MaxQ™ tall fescue, chicory, dwarf pearl millet, and misc. forbs.<br />Goats always have access to a central laneway containing port-a-hut shelters, a shade structure, water, minerals, and the handling system.<br />Free choice minerals with a coccidiostat.<br />
  8. 8. 2009<br />
  9. 9. Test protocol: data collection<br />Goats are handled at the start of the test and every two weeks.<br />Body weights<br />Body condition scores<br />Coat condition scores<br />FAMACHA© scores<br />Treatment records<br />Individual and pooled fecal samples<br />Fecal egg counts<br />Larvae ID<br />End of test<br />Ultrasound carcass measurements<br />Reproductive soundness<br />Scrotal circumference and splits<br />Teat number and structure<br />Structural correctness<br />
  10. 10. Meet Gold, Silver, and Bronze standards of performance:<br />Growth rate (ADG)<br />Parasite resistance (high and avg. fecal egg counts)<br />Parasite resilience(FAMACHA© scores and # anthel. Tx)<br />Meet minimum standards:<br />Reproductive soundness <br />Structural correctness<br />Additional data provided<br />Ultrasound BF and REA<br />Scrotal circumference and splits<br />Teat number and structure<br />Top-performing bucksEligible for sale<br />
  11. 11. Top-performing bucks <br />2009 Standards<br />
  12. 12. What?<br />2009<br />Increase and broaden attendance at field day.<br />Broaden scope of youth livestock programs.<br />Expose youth to commercial meat production.<br />Expose youth to other meat goat breeds.<br /><ul><li>Youth are potential buyers of performance-tested bucks or does from performance-tested herds.</li></ul>Mini-skillathon: six stations (feed, breeds, and equipment ID, diseases, potluck, and written test).<br />28 youth from MD and WV competed in the first event.<br />Youth Goat Skillathon<br />Why?<br />
  13. 13. In 2009, nine goats were harvested at a USDA-inspected plant in New Windsor, Maryland (LambCo).<br />Carcasses were separated into fat, bone, and lean.<br />Goats were sold prior to slaughter (plant’s USDA certification is for carcasses only)<br />Carcass evaluation<br /><br />
  14. 14. All results are shared via a blog.<br />Reports and other documents can be downloaded from the blog.<br />Information can be mailed upon request.<br /><br />2007<br />
  15. 15. Consignment fees <br />Currently $85 per goat<br />Internal (extension) grants<br />Mini-grants<br />Leveraging grants<br />Northeast SARE funds<br />SARE grants and funds<br />Science and education grants<br />Speaker funds<br />In-kind and solicited donations<br />Mineral companies<br />Individual producers<br />Industry<br />Small Ruminant Extension Program <br />Funding<br />
  16. 16. Results: testing program<br />
  17. 17. Results: field day and sale<br />
  18. 18. Impacts<br />2006  2009<br />195 goats from 17 consigners from 11 states have been evaluated.<br />Program participation is increasing.<br />The demand for performance-tested bucks has increased as evidenced by prices.<br />Electronic survey results<br />80 percent of visitor’s to meat goat test blog would prefer to purchase a performance-tested buck.<br />90 percent of producers agree with the emphasis the test places on parasite traits.<br />Other states are developing forage-based small ruminant performance tests.<br />
  19. 19. Keys to success<br /><ul><li>Consigners’ interest, input, and cooperation.
  20. 20. Teamwork among extension and research colleagues in different counties and states.
  21. 21. Very knowledgeable and conscientious animal care provider.</li></li></ul><li>Expand youth involvement.<br />Incorporate carcass contest into performance-testing program.<br />Do a comprehensive evaluation of the program to determine impacts.<br />Develop an on-farm performance testing program for doe herds.<br />Develop a similar program for sheep producers.<br />Future plans: Extension<br />
  22. 22. More forage analyses.<br />Compare performance of offspring from top and bottom-performing bucks in test .<br />Compare carcass characteristics of goats finished on different diets.<br />Make it a progeny test.<br />Future plans: Research<br />
  23. 23. Fecal egg countsDr. Dahlia O’Brien’s lab at Delaware State University<br />Larvae IDDr. Ray Kaplan’s lab at the University of Georgia<br />Carcass ultrasoundJim Pritchard from West Virginia University<br />Carcass evaluationJoe Kavanaugh, LambCo LLC, New Windsor, MarylandDr. Scott Updike from the University of Maryland<br />The “Goat Team”Susan Schoenian, Jeff Semler, Jeanne Dietz-Band, Mary Beth Bennett, David Gordon, Willie Lantz, Shannon Uzelac, Dahlia O’Brien, and E. Nelson Escobar.<br />Administrative supportPam Thomas and Cindy Mason<br />The WMREC farm crewTim Ellis, Doug Price, and Dave Wyand<br />Acknowledgements<br />