Thursday, July 24, 2014

Good Pasture Quality

During the parasite-challenge phase of the test, three pooled fecal samples were collected and submitted to the Grazingland Animal Nutrition (GAN) Lab in Temple, Texas.

The GAN Lab uses near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to evaluate the forage component of an animal's diet and predict the quality of the forage the animals were consuming for the past 36 to 48 hours.

These results show that the goats were grazing good quality pasture during the parasite-phase of the test. The only limiting factor would have been intake.

An explanation of the data
Crude protein (CP) analysis measures grams of crude protein per gram of dry matter in the manure and reflects the crude protein percentage in the diet that the goats were consuming. Digestible organic matter (DOM) measures grams of digestible organic matter per gram of dry matter in the manure. It is a measure of digestible energy. The DOM/CP ratio is an indicator of rumen efficiency. For cattle, the acceptable range for this ratio is 4 to 7 with 4 being optimal.

Fecal nitrogen (FN) is a direct measurement of the amount of nitrogen in the manure and is not necessarily correlated to dietary nitrogen. FN can be used to roughly quantify the amount of nitrogen going back onto the pasture where the animals are grazing.

Fecal phosphorus (FP) analysis  measures the percent of phosphorus (P) in the manure itself and can be used to roughly gauge if dietary P is adequate. A FP value greater than 0.3 generally indictes that dietary phosphorus intake is adequate.  A value between 0.3 and 0.2 is borderline and may need attention.A value less than 0.1 indicates a potential deficiency.

Source:  NIRS Report, Grazingland Animal Nutrition Lab, 7.23.14

Goats are not Cattle

According to Dr. Stephen Prince, Director of the GAN Lab, more than 95 percent of the samples processed in his lab are from cattle. Because the lab's equations and calibrations are for cattle, there may be some differences in the data for goats and other livestock species.

This was the third rotation in the parasite-challenge phase.

In a phone conversation, Dr. Prince indicated that the cattle equations may underestimate DOM for goats, which would help to explain the lower DOM and DOM/CP ratios. While the report stated that the ratios for the test samples would be "outside the range for positive rumen efficiency," this is not necessarily the case with goats, he said. Goats are not cattle!  However, the way to improve the DOM/CP ratio would be to supplement the pasture diet with a source of roughage. This is exactly what we are doing with the soy hulls.

Collecting additional samples
Additional pooled fecal samples will be collected from the goats during the growth-phase of the test, while they are grazing the warm season annual grasses and legumes. The samples will be submitted to the GAN Lab for NIRS analysis.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Supplementing with Soy Hulls

Today, we began supplementing the bucks in the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test (and pasture group of the pen vs. pasture study) with soybean hulls.

Soybean hulls are a by-product of soybean processing. They consist primarily of the outer coating of the bean. They are a highly digestible source of fiber.

The hulls are being fed in Premier Porta Troughs™

As with other by-product feeds, the nutritional composition of soy hulls varies. According to the Sheep Production Handbook (2002), soy hulls are 77% TDN, 12% CP, 0.57% Ca, and 0.17% P.

The reason for supplementation is to improve performance during the "growth-phase" of the test. Various studies have shown that soybean hulls are comparable to corn as an energy source for beef cattle that are grazing low and moderate quality forage.

From an economic standpoint, soybean hulls are a more economical source of energy than good quality hay (in Western Maryland) -- and easier to feed, with less wastage. However, they are a more expensive source of energy than corn or barley. These cost comparisons will be different in different parts of the country.

Pelleting reduces the bulk density of the hulls.

Once the bucks "learn" to eat the hulls, we will gradually increase the amount of supplementation to 0.75 lb. per head per day, approximately 1.5 percent of body weight. Today, 0.25 lb. per head was put out.

The bucks are also still "learning" to eat the Sunn Hemp. So far, they have preferred to spend their time grazing the paddock of orchardgrass that is adjacent to the field of Sunn Hemp.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Parasite Challenge" Phase Over

The "parasite challenge" phase of the 2014 test is over. During the final two weeks of the parasite challenge, FAMACHA© scores continued to increase and on-average, the goats did not gain any weight. 

For the 77 goats in the test, weight gain ranged from -7.0 to 3.8 lbs. and averaged -0.06 ± 2.2 lbs. The median gain was also -0.06 lbs. Average daily gain (ADG) ranged from -0.500 to 0.271 lbs. per day and averaged -0.045 ± 0.159 lbs. per day. The median ADG was -0.043 lbs. per day.

For the past two weeks, the top-gaining bucks were #'s 402 and 444, consigned by Craig Adams (IL) and Jodie Majanscik (KY), respectively. All of the bucks in Linda Heise's (PA) consignment gained weight.

All of Linda Heise's (PA)
bucks have gained weight.

During the parasite challenge phase of the test (day 0-42), ADG ranged from -0.243 to 0.229 lbs. per day and averaged 0.011 ± 0.086 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.012 lbs. per day.

The top-performing buck was #479, a purebred Kiko consigned by Jill Zink (IN). The Zink buck has not required deworming.  Its highest FEC was 1546 epg. All the goats in the Patrick (GA) and Heise consignments gained weight during the parasite challenge.

Worsening FAMACHA© scores
FAMACHA© scores ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 2.5 ± 0.7, compared to 2.3 ± 0.8 two weeks ago. Nine goats required deworming and were treated with either levamisole (Prohibit® @ 3 ml/50 lbs.) or moxidectin (Cydectin® @ 2 ml/11 lbs.).

To help stimulate growth, all goats were given a 0.5 g bolus of copper oxide wire particles (COWP). For this reason, goats with FAMACHA© scores of 3 were not dewormed with a chemical dewormer. COWPs have been proven to be effective at reducing barber pole worm infections in kids and lambs. Fecal egg counts from July 3 and July 17 will be compared to determine the effectiveness of the COWPs.

Body condition and coat condition scores remained relatively unchanged.  Dag scores and fecal consistency scores improved slightly, as fewer goats had active cases of scours. Some goats scour when they are moved to fresh forage.

Growth Challenge
The "growth challenge" phase of the test has begun. The bucks now have access to a paddock of Sunn Hemp. Sunn Hemp is a fast-growing, warm season, annual legume. A forage sample will be taken to determine the nutrient content of the Sunn Hemp. The goats also have access to a paddock of orchardgrass, that was mowed and has not been grazed for more than 60 days.

Start of "growth challenge"
Grazing Sunn Hemp

Pooled samples will continue to be collected to determine the nutrient content of the diet the goats are consuming. A sample is collected after several days of grazing a fresh paddock. Three samples have been submitted to the Grazingland Animal Nutrition Lab (in Texas) to determine diet quality during the parasite-challenge phase.

Download July 17 (d-42) Report

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FECs Increase Substantially

As compared to June 19, fecal egg counts increased substantially. For the individual samples collected on July 3, fecal egg counts ranged from 150 to 9600 epg and averaged 1680 ± 1607 epg. The median fecal egg count was 1338 epg. Tapeworm eggs were found in one fecal sample. Coccidia oocysts were found in one sample.  Fecal samples could not be obtained from three goats.

To qualify as Gold, a buck cannot have an egg count above 1000 epg.  Thirty-one bucks (42%) had egg counts below 1000 epg, including all the bucks in the Barnes (KY) consignment, both of Patricia Larr's (IN) bucks, and the single consignments of Christine English (MD) and Harry Taylor (MD).

To qualify as Silver, a buck cannot have an egg count above 1500 epg. Thirty-nine bucks (53%)) had egg counts below 1500 epg, including all of the bucks in the Stemme (TX) consignment.

To qualify as Bronze, a buck cannot have an egg count above 2000 epg. Fifty-five bucks (74%) had egg counts below 2000 epg, including all the bucks in the Adams (IL), Ballinger (KY), and Heise (PA) consignments.

2000 epg is considered to be of clinical significance for the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus). Lower egg counts can be problematic for the other strongyle-type species. Bucks with egg counts above 2000 epg are usually disqualified from the sale.

When previous test data has been analyzed, there has been a weak-to-moderate correlation between fecal egg counts and FAMACHA© scores (deworming need). 

On July 17, bucks with FAMACHA© scores of 4 or 5 will be dewormed with levamisole (Prohibit® @ 3/ml 50 lbs.). Bucks with FAMACHA© scores of 3 will be dewormed if they have one or more additional risk factors, such as weight loss, scours, loss of body condition, BCS < 2, and/or high FEC. On July 17, all bucks will be given a bolus containing 0.5 grams of copper oxide wire particles (COWP). COWPs have been scientifically proven to reduce barber pole worm infections in kids and lambs. Copper is also important to immune function.

Tomorrow (July 17) starts the "growth" phase of the test. The goats will be rotated onto the warm season annuals, starting with Sunn Hemp, the fastest growing species that was planted. Within the next week, they will be started on a soy hull supplement, with a goal of feeding less than 2% of body weight.

Download July 3 FEC (d-28) Report

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer 2014 Wild & Woolly

The Summer 2014 issue of Wild & Woolly has been posted to the web. Wild & Woolly is a newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants. It is published quarterly by University of Maryland Extension and the Western Maryland Research & Education Center.

The Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test is regularly featured in the newsletter.

You can subscribe to the newsletter listserv, so you'll receive an e-mail message when a new issue of the newsletter has been posted to the web. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoatnews.

Mailed copies of the newsletter (4/year) are available for a cost recovery fee of $10/year. Checks payable to the University of Maryland should be sent to:  Sheep/Goat Newsletter, Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysville Road, Keedysville, MD  21756.

View Summer 2014 issue of Wild & Woolly (HTML)
Download Summer 2014 issue of Wild & Woolly (PDF)
View archives of previous newsletters

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hoop House Cover Destroyed

On July 8-9, storms damaged the hoop house cover beyond repair. The storms were short in duration, but were accompanied by fierce winds. The cover was removed and will need to be replaced. Some modifications will be necessary to prevent a repeat occurrence.

The cover lasted less than 2 weeks.

Plans are underway to begin grazing the warm season annuals. Five acres of pearl millet, cow peas, and Sunn Hemp have been planted for grazing during the second six weeks of the test. The Sunn Hemp is showing the most vigorous growth. Growing conditions have been excellent since planting.

Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea)

Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea) is a fast-growing warm season legume. It is a tropical Asian plant. Cow peas are also a warm-weather legume. Pearl millet is a warm season annual grass.

Goats Start Test with Mixed Parasite Load

The goats started this year's test with a mixed parasite load. On May 30, a pooled sample was collected from goats from each consignment. This sample was sent to Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab at Virginia State University for coproculture.

Coproculture is when the eggs in the feces are hatched and the worm species are identified by measuring the larvae and examining their morphology. It is not possible to differentiate between the different species of strongyle-type worms at the egg stage.

For the sample collected on May 30, the fecal egg count was 720 epg. This is similar to the average of the individual fecal egg counts of the 77 goats (830 epg) in the test (on May 30), but considerably higher than the median FEC (50 epg). A few goats had very high FECs, which skewed the average.

The worm load was comprised of 49% Haemonchus contortus, 37% Trichostrongylus and Teladorsagia. The remaining 14% of the sample contained Oesophagostomum and Ostertagia. This is the lowest percentage of Haemonchus ever found in a pooled sample from the test. Usually, the percentage of Hamonchus exceeds 75%. At times, it's been close to 100%. Last year's test goats started the test with 84% Haemonchus.

Species Common name Percentage
Haemonchus contortus Barber pole worm 49
Trichostrongylus, Teladorsagia various 37
Oesophagostomum, Ostertagia Nodule worm 14

The female barber pole worm is a very prolific egg layer, whereas the other species lay considerably fewer eggs. 2,000 epg is generally considered to be of clinical significance for the barber pole worm, whereas FECs of 500 epg can be problematic for the other worm species. At the same time, fecal egg counts are generally not a good indicator of clinical parasitism, as so many other factors are involved.

Another pooled fecal sample was collected from random goats on July 3. The fecal egg count for this sample was considerable higher at 1750 epg. It will take several weeks to complete the fecal coproculture.