Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Meeting Standards for Parasite Resistance

Midway through the test (day-42), approximately 25 percent of the bucks were still meeting the GOLD standards for parasite resistance. The Gold standard requires an average fecal egg count below 500 epg and a high egg count that does not exceed 1000 epg.

The table does not include bucks who have missing data points. Some of them are still meeting the Gold standards, but with less data. They will be included in the final analysis. The final analysis will include three more fecal egg counts:  September 3, September 17, and October 1.

Not only do fecal egg counts vary by individual goat, but they also vary by consignment. John Weber (IL) and Randy & Jodie Majanczik (KY) both have three bucks that are still meeting the Gold standards for parasite resistance.  Kendell & Dana Barnes (KY), Waldo Nelson (MD), and Tracy Loyd (NC) each have two bucks that are meeting the standards.

#584 is one of the most resistant bucks in the test (so far)

So far, the most parasite resistant buck in the test is #565, a purebred Kiko consigned by first-time consignor Robert Pursel (PA). Many of the most resistant bucks are also among the top-gainers in the test.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

FECs Increase Slightly

For the individual samples collected on August 20 (d-42), fecal egg counts ranged from 25 to 12475 and averaged 1872 + 2142 epg. The standard deviation was larger than the mean, indicating a wide distribution of fecal egg counts. The median fecal egg count was 1225 epg.

Nineteen goats had fecal egg counts below 500 epg. Thirty-three goats had egg counts below 1000 epg.  Forty-five had egg counts between 2000 and 5000. Only five goats had egg counts above 5000 epg.

The dispersion of egg counts was similar to two weeks ago. The 24 goats with the highest egg counts (30% of the goats) accounted for 67 percent of the total egg output (per gram of feces).

Despite many goats having high egg counts (over 2000), evidence of clinical parasitism was minimal on August 20. Only two goats were dewormed.

Goats with consistently low fecal egg counts are considered to be resistant. Goats with high fecal egg counts that have good FAMACHA© and body condition scores (and do not require deworming) are resilient to parasites.  Resilience is the ability to maintain health and performance despite carrying a parasite burden.

Resistance and resilience are both important production traits. You don't want to have to deworm a buck, but you don't want him infecting the pastures either. Nor do you want him to pass those genetics onto his many offspring.

So far, many of the bucks are proving to be
both resistant and resilient to parasites

Resistance tends to be more heritable than resilience.  Both traits are also heavily influenced by environmental conditions. Regardless of genetics, goats will have low egg counts if the level of challenge is low. Similarly, they will have higher egg counts if the level of challenge is high. Good nutrition can improve resilience.

Bucks that remain on the farm that have lower egg counts are not more resistant than the bucks in the test. The environmental conditions (challenge) is different. Only the 84 bucks in the test can be compared with this data.

Download April 20 (d-42) fecal egg count report

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Day 42

The test is half over. For the first 42 days of the test, ADG ranged from -0.050 to 0.454 lbs. and averaged 0.206 + 0.165 lbs. per day. The median ADG is 0.226 lbs. per day. So far, the top-gaining buck is #548, a purebred Kiko consigned by P.J. Murphy (New Jersey). At almost 96 lbs, 548 is also the largest buck in the test. In fact, he's the largest buck in the 10 year history of the test.

After 42 days, the other top-gaining buck is #551, a 94% Kiko consigned by Waldo Nelson (Maryland). He is gaining only slightly less at 0.446 lbs. per day. The Murphy buck weighed 76.8 lbs. upon arrival, whereas the Nelson buck weighed 47.1 lbs, which shows that different sized bucks can perform at a high level.

For the first 42 days, the consignors with the top-gaining consignments are Murphy, Nelson, Mike Whelan (Kentucky), Randy & Jodie Majancsik (Kentucky), Patricia Larr (Indiana), and David Peters (North Carolina).

For the most recent weigh period, gain ranged from -4.4 to 8.0 lbs. and averaged 3.0 + 2.3 lbs. The median gain was 3.3 lbs. ADG ranged from -0.314 to 0.574 and averaged 0.217 + 0.165 lbs. per day.  The median ADG was 0.236 lbs. per day. Only seven goats have failed to gain weight since July 9. Since the start of the test, only two goats have failed to gain weight.

For the previous two weeks, the top-gaining buck has been the big Murphy buck (#548). Two other bucks gained 0.5 lbs. per day or more for the period:  #521, a purebred Kiko consigned by Sam Cottrell (Illinois), the Nelson buck (#551), and #598, a purebred Kiko consigned by Kent Slavens (Kansas). Cottrell and Slavens are both first-time consignors.

FAMACHA© scores remained relative unchanged. They ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 1.86 + 0.62. The median FAMACHA© score was 2.  Two goats were dewormed (with Cydectin®). Body condition and coat condition scores were also basically the same, 2.38 + 0.22 and 2.04 + 0.14, respectively. Few goats had positive dag scores. Fecal consistency score improved from 1.8 to 1.4 (1=pellets, 4=scours).

A pooled fecal sample was collected (from random goats) for larvae ID.  It was not possible to obtain fecal samples from two goats.

The second 42 days of the test are intended to serve as a "parasite challenge."  However, fecal egg counts from August 6 showed that the bucks are already facing a significant challenge. Despite high egg counts, resilience seems to strong. At least, so far.

The bucks currently have access to two 1-acre paddocks that they have previously grazed:  1 acre of dwarf pearl millet + sunn hemp and 1 acre of orchardgrass. They also have access to ~2.5 acres of silvopasture (mostly cool season grasses, with some browse).

It has been very dry for the past month or so. In fact, it rained today for the first time in approximately 30 days. The dry weather has limited pasture regrowth and will affect how the bucks are managed for the second half of the test. Their daily feeding of soy hull pellets is being increased to 1.0 lb. per head per day. With the bucks averaging 62 lbs., they are being supplemented at approximately 1.6% of their body weight.

Download August 20 (d-42) report

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Increasing Fecal Egg Counts

On August 6, fecal egg counts ranged from 25 to 11,350 epg and averaged 1811 + 2111 epg.  There was a large variation in fecal egg counts as evidenced by the large standard deviation. The median fecal egg count was 1075 epg. As compared to two weeks ago (July 23), significantly more goats (n=22) had fecal egg counts above 2000 epg. Fecal samples could not be obtained from 4 goats.

Despite the increasing fecal egg counts, FAMACHA© scores averaged 1.81 + 0.59 on August 6. The median FAMACHA© score was 2. Only one goat was dewormed.

Fecal egg counts are not usually evenly dispersed in a group of animals. According to the 70:30 rule, 30 percent of the animals are responsible for 70 percent of the eggs deposited onto a pasture (per gram of feces). This was true with the test goats on August 6, as the 23 goats with the highest egg counts (29% of the herd) deposited 99,425 eggs, 70 percent of the total number of eggs deposited (142,475).

Download August 6 Fecal Egg Count Report

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lazy Days of Summer

The test is almost half over.  Next Thursday (August 20) will mark 42 days. This week has been very pleasant, with low humidity (at least for Maryland!).  After a wet start, it has been very dry for the last month or so. Goats generally fare better in dry weather, so long as there is enough forage to eat.

After 7 days of grazing

Since last Thursday, the goats have been grazing a 2-acre paddock of dwarf pearl millet and sunn hemp. They have eaten most of the "good stuff." Few leaves remain on the stalks of sunn hemp. Unfortunately, the paddock contains a "healthy crop" of fox tail, which the goats do not prefer.

The Sunn Hemp has been stripped mostly clean.

The goats also have access to the silvopasture, which contains ~2.5 acres of mostly cool season grasses, with some browse. The silvopasture is in the back part of the grazing system, so, the goats had to be "reminded" that they still had access to it.

Silvopasture (August 3)

After working next Thursday, the bucks will be moved to the cool season paddocks to begin the "parasite challenge" portion of the test. The cool season paddocks are planted mostly in MaxQ™ tall fescue and orchardgrass. There is also a lot of volunteer clover.

At 0.35 lbs. per day, #550 is one of the top-gaining bucks.

The daily consumption of soy hull pellets should help the goats deal with the upcoming parasite challenge.  The results of the August 6 fecal egg counts are still pending.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Detailed Buck Information

Eighty-four (84) bucks are participating in this year's Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. They are all Kiko or Kiko-influenced. The Kikos are a combination of New Zealand, purebred, "composite," and commercial.

As for other "breeds," there is one 3/4 Boer and two half Boers in the test. There is a Kiko Genemaster. Only one buck was described as crossbred. There are several high percentage Kiko crosses in the test.

All bucks in the test have Kiko blood.

Upon arrival to the test site the bucks ranged in age from 103 to 170 days and averaged 131 + 20 days. The median age was 128 days. The average birth date was February 15 + 20 days. The median birth date was February 18.

Birth type ranged from 1 (single) to 4 (quad) and averaged 2.1. The median birth type was 2.0 (twin). Birth weights ranged from 5.1 to 10.6 lbs. and averaged 7.5 + 1.2 lbs. The average age at weaning was 88.3 + 12.9 days; the median was 88 days. Weaning age ranged from 59 to 126 days. The bucks were produced by dams that ranged in age from 1 to 9 years. The average age of dam was 4.0 + 1.7 years. The median dam age was 4 years. Twenty-six percent of the bucks were creep fed.

Using the data provided, a weight per day of age (WDA, at start of test), pre-weaning ADG, corrected 90-day weaning weight, adjusted 90-day weaning weight, and weaning weight ratio was calculated for each buck. Since the goats were weaned (and weighed at different ages), weights had to be equalized to a common age (90 days). To minimize the effects of environment on performance, weights had to be adjusted for birth type and type of rearing and age of dam.The standard of comparison is a single-born and raised kid, born to a mature doe, 3 years of age and older.

A common environment is needed to make comparisons.

WDA, pre-weaning ADG, corrected 90-day weaning weights, adjusted 90-day weaning weights, and weaning weight ratios are provided for informational purposes only. Data can only be compared among bucks in the same consignment and for such a comparison to be made, we are assuming that all kids were fed and managed the same.

Differences in pre-weaning performance between bucks from different consignments are due to differences in environment (feed and management), not necessarily genetics; they cannot be compared. To make across-herd comparisons, it is necessary to have EBVs (estimated breeding values) calculated by the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) or a similar genetic evaluation program.

It is the purpose of this buck test to determine post-weaning genetic differences between bucks from different farms. These comparisons are valid because the bucks now share a common environment. Every buck is fed and managed in the same manner.

Download detailed buck information report

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Day 28

Day 28 data was collected on August 6. The goats were weighed. FAMACHA©, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores were determined. Individual fecal samples were collected from each goat. Fecal samples could not be obtained from three goats, despite multiple attempts at collection.

For the second weigh period, gain ranged from -4.8 to 7.2 lbs. and averaged 2.7 + 3.2 lbs. The median gain was 3.2 lbs. ADG ranged from -0.343 to 0.514 lbs. per day and averaged 0.191 + 0.229 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.229 lbs. per day. The top-gaining goat was #552 consigned by Waldo Nelson.

Grazing millet and sunn hemp

For the first 28 days of the test, ADG ranged from -0.132 to 0.413 lbs. per day and averaged 0.200 + 0.223 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.223 lbs. per day. For the first 28 days of the test, the top-gaining goat was #551, another of Waldo Nelson's consignments.

The average FAMACHA© score decreased slightly from two weeks ago. FAMACHA© scores ranged from 1 to 3 and averaged 1.81 + 0.59. The median FAMACHA© score was 2.0. One goat with a FAMACHA© score of 3 was dewormed, due to other risk factors. Body condition and coat condition scores remained relatively unchanged, averaging 2.38 + 0.22 and 2.04 + 0.14, respectively.

Dag scores ranged from 0 to 3 and averaged 0.21 + 0.60. A score of 0 represents no fecal soiling (on backside, legs, and hocks).  Fecal consistency scores range from 1 to 4, with 1 representing well-formed pellets and 4 representing liquid feces (diarrhea). For the test goats, fecal consistency scores ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 1.79 + 0.78. The median fecal consistency score was 1.5 (soft pellets).

Jeff collecting a forage sample.

The goats grazed the silvopasture, approximately 2.5 acres of mostly cool season grasses (and weeds) for the past 3 days. After working today, they were given access to 2 acres of dwarf pearl millet and sunn hemp. The silvopasture will remain open as it provides more shade. Hot weather is in the forecast.

The goats continue to consume 0.75 lbs. of soy hull pellets per head per day. The daily feeding provides good opportunity to monitor the health and well-being of all goats in the herd.

Download August 6 (day 28) report