Sunday, August 2, 2015

Egg Counts Increase Slightly

On July 23, fecal egg counts ranged from 0 to 5800 epg and averaged 546 + 897. The median egg count was 221 epg.  Only four goats had egg counts above 2000 epg. Eleven goats had egg counts above 1000 epg. Fifty-five goats had egg counts below 500 epg.

Fecal samples could not be obtained from two goats.

Download July 23 fecal egg count report

Friday, July 24, 2015

70 Percent Haemonchus

The results of the first larvae culture were 70% Haemonchus contortus, 15% Trichostrongylus/Ostertagia, and 15% other.

Haemonchus contortus, better known as the barber pole worm, is a blood-sucking parasite that causes anemia and bottle jaw. Sub-clinical infection can affect performance. Haemonchus contortus is the primary parasite that affects small ruminant in warm, moist climates.

H. contortus has always comprised the majority of worm infection at the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. The FAMACHA© system, which assesses the level of anemia based on a color eye chart, is used to determine the need for deworming.

Trichostrongylus and Ostertagia (also known as Teladosagia) are closely related to H. contortus; however, they are usually of secondary importance. It is more difficult to pinpoint their direct effects, as they cause symptoms that have numerous other causes, e.g.scours (diarrhea), weight loss, loss of body condition, etc. Dag scoring, body condition scoring, and the "Happy Factor" can be used to determine the need for deworming. The Happy Factor is a live weight gain decision support system.

The Other category includes mostly oesophagostomum and nematodirus. Oesophagostomum (nodule worm) is seldom a problem in US. Nematodirus is more of a problem in the UK and Europe. Both are more common to wet, cold climates.

Larvae ID was done by Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab at Virginia State University.  Additional pooled fecal samples will be collected at the mid-point and end of the test for further larvae ID.

First data recorded

The first data was collected on July 23 (day 14 of the test). The goats were weighed. FAMACHA©, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal scores were determined. Individual fecal samples were collected from each goat. Fecal samples could not be obtained from two goats.

For the first two weeks of the test, gain ranged from -3.4 to 7.4 lbs. and averaged 2.9 + 2.2 lbs. The median gain was 3.2 lbs. Average daily gain (ADG) ranged from -0.25 to 0.55 lbs. per day and averaged 0.22 + 0.16 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.23 lbs. per day. Only 8 goats failed to gain weight during the first 14 days of the test. Only one goat is below its initial weight (and only by 0.8 lbs.).

New paddock
Grazing a fresh paddock of millet, hemp, and weeds.

For the first two weeks of the test, the two top-gaining bucks were consigned by Waldo Nelson (MD) and John Smith (Virginia). The top-gaining consignments were from Mike Whelan (Kentucky), P.J. Murphy (New Jersey), and Patricia Larr (Indiana). Their consignments gained an average of 0.35, 0.33, and 0.31 lbs. per day, respectively during the first 14 days of the test.

There was a slight improvement in FAMACHA© scores. They ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 1.95 + 0.56. The median FAMACHA© score was 2.0. Only one goat required deworming, as determined by the FAMACHA© system and Five Point Check©.

Body condition scores  (1-5) remained relatively unchanged, ranging from 2 to 3 and averaging 2.36 + 0.27.  No goat had a body condition score below 2. Coat condition scores (1-3) remained relatively unchanged, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 and averaging 2.02 + 0.13.

Goats consuming soy hull pellets, 0.75 lbs/day

Both dag scores (0-5) and fecal consistency scores (1-4) changed, as many goats had soft feces (most likely the result of the high moisture content of the forage).  Dag scores ranged from 0 to 3 and averaged 0.29 + 0.65 (0=no fecal soiling on hindquarters and hocks). Fecal consistency scores ranged from 2 to 4 and averaged 3.13 + 0.90 (4=pellets, 1=diarrhea).

For the past several days, the goats have been grazing a 1-acre paddock of orchardgrass. This paddock was opened after the goats grazed down their first paddock (1 acre) of millet and hemp. After handling today, the goats were given access to a clean 2-acre paddock of dwarf pearl millet, sunn hemp, and various weeds.

The goats are currently consuming 0.75 lbs. of soybean pellets per head per day. They are fed once per day in the morning. Besides providing energy to their diet, the hand feeding of pellets makes it easier to monitor the health and behavior of the goats.

Download July 23 (day 14) report

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

First Forage Analysis

On July 15, Jeff Semler collected forage samples from the paddock that the goats were grazing.  He collected a mixed sample that was representative of all the plants in the paddock. This included dwarf pearl millet, sunn hemp, and various weeds. He collected a separate sample of marestail, the primary weed in the paddock.

Test goats
The goats ate the marestail with relish.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fecal Egg Count Reduction

On  July 9, fecal egg counts ranged from 0 to 4675 epg and averaged 318 + 759 epg.  The large standard deviation indicates that there was a wide fluctuation in egg counts. The median egg count was only 38 epg.

The efficacy of an anthelmintic treatment can be determined by comparing before and after fecal egg counts. The period between sampling varies by anthelmintic, but is usually two weeks when more than one drug is being evaluated.

Fecal samples are collected from every buck every two weeks.

Only goats with initial fecal egg counts of  > 300 epg were included in calculations. In addition, some goats did not have samples on one or both of the dates, so a reduction could not be calculated.  Fecal egg count reductions were calculated for 66 goats in the test. Among those goats, the percent reduction varied from 0 to 100.

Fecal egg counts increased in five of the 68 goats. If the data from these 5 goats is removed from the dataset (it would skew the average), FECR varied from 30 to 100 percent and averaged 92 + 13 percent. The median FECR was 98%.  A effective treatment should reduce fecal egg counts by 95 percent or more.

Fecal egg count reduction (FECR) varied considerable among consignments.  The sequential dosing was very effective in some consignments and less effective in others. Negative numbers indicate that the fecal egg count went up after the sequential dosing.

If this was the case with several goats in a consignment, the consignor's farm may have resistance to all three anthelmintic classes. It is recommended that these consignors test for anthelmintic resistance in their herds by having more fecal egg counts done or by submitting a pooled manure sample for DrenchRite analysis.

Download Fecal Egg Count Reduction Report (July 9)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Craig Adams

Craig Adams, a long-time consignor to the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test, passed away July 15. He was 40 years old.

Craig's bucks always did well in the test. The first two years that Craig  participated in the test (2009 and 2010), he had both the top performing buck and the top consignment.  He had top-performing bucks in subsequent years of the test.

Craig with his top-performing buck in 2009

Craig's bucks have always been among the most parasite resistant bucks in the test.  Last year, he had the most parasite-resistant buck in the test. Craig consigned two bucks to this year's test.

Craig was a member of the Illinois Kiko Goat Association and American Kiko Goat Association. He is is survived by his parents and three children. Memorials may be made to a college fund for his children.

So long, Craig. We'll miss you.

Read obituary

Friday, July 10, 2015

First Data Recorded

After a 13-d adjustment period, the first data was recorded for the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. The eighty-four bucks were weighed on Thursday and Friday, July 9 and 10. The two weights were averaged to determine starting weights.

Starting weights ranged from 36.2 to 76.8 lbs. and averaged 53.1 + 8.1 lbs. The median starting weight was 51.9 lbs. Only four bucks were outside of the acceptable weight range of 40 to 70 lbs. 

Forage variety

During the adjustment period, the bucks gained an average of 4.1 + 3.4 lbs. Gain ranged from -5.1 to + 11.4 lbs. The median gain was 4.4 Lbs. Average daily gain (ADG) ranged from -0.39 to 0.87 lbs. per day and averaged 0.32 + 0.26 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.34 lbs. per day.

FAMACHA© scores improved from June 26. They ranged from 1 to 3 and averaged 2.0 + 0.6.  The median FAMACHA© score was 2.0. As expected, no goats required deworming. Body condition and coat condition scores remained relatively unchanged. Body condition scores ranged from 1.5 to 3 and averaged 2.4 + 0.3. Coat condition scores ranged from 2.00 to 2.75 and averaged 2.06 + 0.17.

Eating dwarf pearl millet grass

There was more variation in dag and fecal consistency scores, as several goats had loose stools. This is expected, as the goat adjust to their new diets and consume forages that are high in moisture.

All of the warm season paddocks are planted in dwarf pearl millet and sunn hemp.  In addition to the planted forages, there are numerous weeds, which the goats seem to eat with relish.  The goats were moved to a new paddock after today's data collection.

Daily supplementation with soy hull pellets

As of today, the goats are being fed 0.5 lbs. of soy pellets per head per day (in the morning). In several days, this will be increased to 0.75 lbs. per head per day. It will not be increased further, unless forage conditions deteriorate. This is not likely, as forage is plentiful, due to abundant rainfall.

The goats will be worked next on Thursday, July 23 to determine d-14 data.

Download June 9-10 (d 14) Report