Monday, October 5, 2015

End of Test - Day 84


The test ended on Friday, October 2. The weather was miserable. After many weeks of little to no precipitation, the conditions were wet and cool. The bucks were weighed two days in a row to get final weights. The final weights are an average of the weights recorded on October 1 and October 2.

FAMACHA© scores, body condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores were determined on October 1. Coat condition could not be evaluated due to the wet weather. A final fecal sample was collected. The Top-10 bucks will not be identified until the final fecal egg counts have been determined and the fecal data has been statistically analyzed.

One of the top bucks in the test

The goats were also evaluated for reproductive soundness and structural correctness. Scrotal circumference was measured using a scrotal tape measure. Teats were counted and characterized.  Bites were checked. Hooves were evaluated for growth and abnormalities. General structure was evaluated. Each buck was assigned a USDA grade.

For the final two weeks of the test, weight gain (loss) ranged from -8.1 to 5.6 lbs. and averaged -0.7 + 3.18 lbs. The standard deviation is very large, indicating a wide variation in weight gain (loss). The median gain (loss) was -0.05 lbs. Average daily gain (ADG) ranged from -0.579 to 0.40 lbs. per day and averaged -0.050 + 0.227 lbs. per day. The median ADG was -0.036 lbs. per day. For the final 14 days of the test, the top-gaining buck was 561 (Pinneo, KS).

For the 84-day duration of the test, ADG ranged from -0.092 to 0.255 lbs. per day and average 0.111 + 0.073 lbs. per day. The median gain was 0.115 lbs. per day. The top-gaining buck was 539 (Majancsik, KY). Other top gainers include 501 (Adams, IL), 543 (Maynard, TN), 551 (Nelson, MD), 568 (Purich, VT), 584 (Weber, IL), 586 (Whelan) and 592 (Wilborn). Each of these bucks averaged over 0.20 lbs. gain per day during the duration of the test.

Ample, but poorer quality pasture

During the first 42 days of the test ("growth" challenge), ADG ranged from -0.050 to 0.454 lbs. per day and averaged 0.205 + 0.108 lbs. per day. The top-gaining buck was 548 (Murphy, NJ). Forage conditions were considerably better during the first 42 days of the test, as the second half was plagued by dry conditions and the sudden onset of cool, wet conditions at the end of the test.

For the past two weeks, FAMACHA© scores improved from 2.3 to 2.0. The median FAMACHA© score was 2. FAMACHA© scores ranged from 1 to 3. Only 4 goats were dewormed.  There was a slight decline in body condition scores. Stools were less soft. Fecal samples could not be obtained from three goats.

USDA grades varied from 1 to 3 and averaged 2.24 + 0.34. The median USDA grade was 2. USDA grades for goats are Selection 1, 2, and 3. They are primarily a muscling score, though condition (external fatness) also has a large effect on grade determination (1=superior muscling, 2=average muscling, 3=thin muscling).

Coming in from the field

Each goat was mouthed to determine if their (lower) teeth were even with their (upper) dental pad. While several goats had slight underbites, none had unsound mouths. Most of the goats had two normal teats. Only a few teat abnormalities were noted. While opinions differ as to the importance of the number of teats, two sound teats is certainly the preference.

Scrotal circumference (SC) ranged from 20.0 to 29.0 centimeters and averaged 24.8 + 1.7 centimeters. While there aren't specific recommendations for meat goat bucks, a larger scrotal size is generally preferred. In other species, there is a link between scrotal size and ovulation rate in female offspring. Scrotal circumference is affected by age and diet, as well as genetics. 584 (Weber, IL) had the largest testicles in the test.

Hooves were evaluated for growth and abnormalities. A few goats had abnormal heel growth. This appears to be genetic. A numerical score was given to indicate the amount of hoof growth and need for trimming, with 0 meaning no trimming was necessary, whereas higher numbers indicated more growth and the need for hoof trimming.

Only one goat had a structural problem (weak pasterns), but this is not necessarily a functional problem.

Download October 2 (day-84) report 
Download Supplemental Data report

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ultrasound Data

The bucks were scanned last Thursday, September 24 by Jim Pritchard (West Virginia). The data was processed at the Iowa Centralized Ultrasound Processing Center (CUP Lab).

For the 84 bucks in the test, rib eye area ranged from 0.53 to 1.53 square inches and averaged 1.07 + 0.19 square inches. The median rib eye area was 1.06 square inches. The buck with the largest rib eye was 537 (Loyd, NC).

Scanning day

As there wasn't much difference in the average rib eye areas of the different weight groups, ratios were calculated from the average rib eye area (1.07), meaning a buck with a rib eye measurement of 1.20 has a rib eye ratio of 112% (1.20 ÷ 1.07).

Loin depth ranged from 0.40 to 0.92 inches and averaged 0.69 + 0.9 inches. The median loin depth was 0.68 inches. The buck that scanned with the deepest loin was 542 (Majancsik, KY). In other countries, loin depth is the preferred measurement of carcass muscling.

Rib fat varied from 0.02 to 0.06 and averaged 0.04 + 0.01 inches. The median rib fat was 0.04 inches. From a carcass standpoint, bucks in the test have not ever had measurable back fat. Even body wall thickness has been difficult to measure. Internal (kidney and heart) fat is the primary measure of carcass fat in a goat. Unfortunately, it cannot be estimated using ultrasound technology.

Jim Pritchard

Past data suggests a correlation between ultrasound measurements and carcass measurements (of rib eye area). Comparisons between bucks are probably more valid than actual measurements. For example: a buck that scans with a 1.2 square inch rib eye area may not have exactly a 1.2 square inch rib eye, but his rib eye will be larger than a buck that scans with a 0.90 square inch rib eye.

Download ultrasound report

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fecal Egg Counts Rise

(revised 09.27.15)

For the samples collected on September 17, fecal egg counts ranged from 75 to 12675 and averaged 2865 + 2465 epg. The median FEC was 2413 epg. As usual, the standard deviation was large, indicating a wide variation in fecal egg counts.

 Fecal samples count not be obtained from four goats. The last samples will be collected on October 1. They will be factored into the data set and selection of the top-10 bucks.

Download September 17 (d-70) fecal egg count report (revised)

Friday, September 25, 2015

This Year's "Favorite" Bucks

Each year, certain bucks stand out because of their appearance and/or personalities. Here are this year's "favorite" bucks (in no particular order).

Test "Slash Line" (as of 09.24.15)
ADG / Avg. FEC / High FEC / Avg. FAM / # Tx

Blue Eyes / Frankie (592)
0.259 / 1435 / 4450 / 2.5 / 0
Consigned by Phillip Wilborn (AL)
John Boy (583)
0.143 / 145 / 325 / 2.5 / 0
Consigned by John Weber (IL)
Ike (566)
0.101 / 3000 / 7825 / 2.0 / 1
Consigned by Nathan Purich (VT)
No name (532)  
0.120 / 775 / 1550 / 2.0 / 0

Consigned by Patricia Larr (IN)
Stubby (540)
0.176 / 395 / 900 / 2.3 / 0
Consigned by Jodie & Randy Majancsik (KY)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ultrasound Scanning

The bucks were scanned today. The ultrasound scanning was done by Jim Pritchard from West Virginia. Jim has probably scanned more goats than anyone else. He has been scanning the bucks in the test for many years. Prior to scanning, the bucks were clipped between the 12th and 13th rib.

Jim Pritchard scanning one of the bucks

The scan data will be sent to the Centralized Ultrasound Processing (CUP) Lab in Iowa for processing. The CUP Lab™ will provide rib eye area, rib eye depth, and back fat measurements. The goats have so little back fat that this data is generally irrelevant. Unlike other livestock, goats deposit most of their fat internally. Unfortunately, there's no way to predict kidney and heart fat.  With that said, the test goats are very lean; they would not be expected to have much internal fat.

Rib eye area is strongly correlated to weight and age; older, heavier goats usually have larger rib eyes. In the test, comparisons will be based on weight. Goats weighing 40 to 50 lbs. will be compared to other goats weighing 40 to 50 lbs. and so forth.

Which buck will have the largest rib eye?

In other livestock species, there is a good correlation between ultrasound measurements and carcass measurements. There is also a good correlation between rib eye area and total carcass muscling. 

For the past six years, the Maryland test site has collected ultrasound and carcass data on goats. This data is being analyzed to determine the correlation between ultrasound measurements and carcass measurements and correlations between rib eye area and carcass muscling.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top Bucks, Day 70

If the test were to have ended on day 70 (September 17), these would have been the top bucks in the test. All have gained more than 0.20 lbs. per day. All have average fecal egg counts below 1000 epg. None have had a fecal egg count above 1500 epg.  

None have had FAMACHA© scores above 3 and none have required deworming (or any other treatment). In the table below, the bucks are sorted according to lowest average egg count.

With two weeks left in the test, much can still change. The fecal egg counts from September 17 are still being analyzed. A final fecal sample will be collected on October 1 and factored into the test results and selection of the top 10 bucks. Final weights will be determined on October 1 and 2. The bucks will be scanned for muscling (rib eye area) on September 24. The bucks will be evaluated for reproductive soundness (teats and testicles) and structural correctness (feet, legs, hooves, and teeth) on October 1.

Selection of the Top 10 bucks will be based on growth rate (ADG), parasite resistance (fecal egg counts), and parasite resilience (FAMACHA© scores and need for deworming).   Ultrasound carcass data, reproductive soundness and structural correctness may also factor into the final selection.

In addition to a top-10 designation, a top buck and top consignment will be determined for this year's test. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

90 Percent Haemonchus

The results of the second fecal coproculture (larvae ID) were 90 percent Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm), 8 percent Teladorsagia and Trichostrongylus ("bankrupt" or scour worms), and 2 percent other. The pooled fecal egg count was 2,400 epg.

This was determined from a pooled fecal sample collected from random goats on August 21.  The first pooled sample collected when the goats arrived on June 26 was 70 percent Haemonchus, 15 percent Teladorsagia and Trichostrongylus and 15 percent other.

The high proportion of barber pole worms means that the FAMACHA© system can be quite effective for determining the need for deworming. The FAMACHA© system is only useful for assessing the effect of blood-feeding parasites, such as Haemonchus. The Five Point Check© and Happy Factor™ model can be used to assess the effect of other parasites, such as Teladorsagia and Trichostrongylus.

The larvae ID is done by Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab at Virginia State University. One more pooled sample will be collected for larvae ID.