Friday, August 15, 2014

87 percent Haemonchus

The pooled fecal sample collected on July 3rd contained 87 percent Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm), 7 percent Trichostrongyles/Teladorsagia and 6 percent other species (Oesophagostomum and Ostertagia).

The fecal egg count of the pooled fecal sample was 1750 epg. This was very similar to the average of individual fecal egg counts on July 3, which was 1680 ± 1607 epg.

The first pooled fecal sample was collected on May 31. It contained only 49 percent Haemonchus. In past years, Haemonchus has always comprised the majority of the worm load, usually nearing 100 percent as the test progresses. The first pooled sample is usually the most diverse.

Another pooled sample was collected from the goats on August 14. It was submitted to Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab at Virginia State University for larvae ID. All fecal testing for the test is done by Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bucks Gain Weight

For the first time in this year's test, most of the bucks (n=63) made meaningful gains. The gains can  be attributed to many factors, including compensatory gains, good quality (and plentiful forage), energy supplementation, and reduced parasitism. 

Top-gaining buck, d-70 (Majancsik, KY)

For the past two weeks, gain ranged from -7.4 to 9.4 lbs. and averaged 2.8 ± 3.1 lbs. The median gain was 3.0 lbs. Average daily gain (ADG) ranged from -0.529 to 0.671 lbs. per day and averaged 0.202 ± 0.223 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.214. Unfortunately, 11 bucks still lost weight.

For the time period, the top-gaining goat was #456, a New Zealand Kiko consigned by David Peters (NC). Other top-gainers were #449, a Purebred Kiko consigned by Waldo Nelson, and #434, a Boer x Kiko consigned by Linda Heise (PA).  These bucks gained 8.8 and 8.6 lbs., respectively. Waldo Nelson had the top-gaining consignment. Waldo's three bucks gained an average of a 7.5 lbs.

For the first 70 days of the test, ADG ranged from -0.154 to 0.169 lbs. per day and averaged 0.040 ± .070 lbs. per day. The median ADG is 0.049 lbs. per day. As of day-70, the top-gaining buck is #441, a Purebred Kiko consigned by Jodie Majancsik (KY). Second best gaining buck is #453, a New Zealand Kiko consigned by Chris Patrick (KY). It is gaining 0.141 lbs. per day.

FAMACHA© scores continued to improve. They ranged from 1 to 5 and averaged 1.9 ± 0.7 compared to 2.3 ± 0.5 two weeks ago. The median FAMACHA© score was 2.0. Only four goats were dewormed, compared to 11 two weeks ago.

Body condition and coat condition scores remained unchanged, while dag scores and fecal consistency scores improved, as the goats adjusted to the vegetative growth of the warm season annuals.

For the remainder of the test, the bucks will have access to all of the paddocks (5 acres) that were planted in warm season annual grasses and legumes. They will continue to be supplemented with 0.75  lbs. of soybean hulls per head per day.

More forage than they can eat

Next week, the bucks will be scanned to determine their rib eye area. Final data will be collected on August 28. In addition to the usual scoring, the bucks will be evaluated for reproductive soundness (teats and testicles) and structural correctness (hooves, bites, etc.). The goats will be weighed on August 28 and 29. The two weights will be averaged to determine the final test weight. Sale bucks will not be chosen until the final fecal egg count data is received.

At the conclusion of the test, all of the bucks will be given another 0.5 g gel cap of copper oxide wire particles (COWPs).

Download August 14 (d-70) Report

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

COWPs Reduce Fecal Egg Counts

On July 17, all of the bucks were given a gel cap containing 0.5 grams of copper oxide wire particles (COWPs). The copper rods in a 12.5 g bolus of Copasure®, a copper supplement for cattle, were repackaged into small doses for the goats. The gel caps were administered using a plastic balling gun.

Each goat was given 0.5 g of COWPs

The fecal samples collected on July 31 (d-56) were compared to the samples collected on July 17 (d-42) to determine the effectiveness of COWPs as an anthelmintic. The COWPs had an effect. Fecal egg counts (FECs) were significantly lower on July 31 as compared to July 17. There was also a slight improvement in FAMACHA© scores (+0.2).

On July 31 (d-56) , fecal egg counts ranged from 0 to 3600 epg and averaged 536 ± 733 epg. The median egg count was 288 epg. On July 17 (d-42), fecal egg counts ranged from 133 to 12800 and averaged 2727 ± 2526 epg. The median egg count was 2033 epg. The average fecal egg count reduction (FECR) was 46.1 percent.

On July 17, nine goats were dewormed with either moxidectin or levamisol. Deworming reduced their fecal egg counts by an average of 92.6 percent, 98.6 percent when the low data point was removed. When the treated goats were removed from the data set, the average reduction in fecal egg counts was 39.3 percent. However, the data was skewed because fecal egg counts increased in eight goats. When these goats were removed from the data set, fecal egg counts were reduced by 81.7 percent.

By way of comparison, the 15 bucks in the pasture group of the pen vs. pasture study were not given a COWP bolus. Their egg counts increased slightly, averaging 2317 ± 2224 epg on July 31.

It is not known why the COWPs were not effective in 8 goats. Perhaps, they spit the gel cap out when no one was looking. Nor is the mechanism of the copper wire particles fully understood. Do the copper particles affect the worms directly or does the copper improve immunity?  Perhaps, both.

COWPs are only effective against Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm). To learn more about the use of COWPs as an anthelmintic, visit the web page of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC).

Download July 31 (d-56) FEC Report

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting

Approximately 80 people attending the Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting, held July 31 at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville.

The tour highlighted the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test and pen vs. pasture study.

For the tasting part, a local chef (Todd Morren) prepared six dishes made from goat meat (chevon), including Birria Mexican Goat & Chili Stew, Citrus-Cured Goat Salad (Tai De) Jaffna Goat Curry (Sri Lankan) Pappardelle with Goat Ragu, and Roasted Goat for Tacos.

The Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting was sponsored by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, which funds the pen vs. pasture study.

Download recipes

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Despite supplementation and the availability of high quality forage, the bucks failed to gain weight during the past two weeks. For the first 56 days of the test, the bucks have not gained any weight (on-average). This lack of growth cannot be fully explained, nor can some of the weight fluctuations experienced by individual bucks, especially when they look good and have full bellies.

No gain
For the previous two weeks, gain ranged from -6.4 to 6 lbs. and averaged -0.6 ± 2.6 lbs.. The median gain was -0.3. Average daily gain ranged from -0.457 to 0.429 lbs. per day and averaged -0.040 ± 0.185 lbs. per day. The median ADG was -0.021 lbs. per day.

Top-gaining buck (Ballinger, KY)

For the period, the top-gaining goat was #408, a purebred Kiko consigned by Ballinger (KY).  Other top-gainers included #'s 409, 416 and 458, consigned by Barnes (KY), Barrack (VA), and Peters (NC), respectively.

408 is top-gainer
For the first 56 days of the test, ADG has ranged from -0.221 to 0.191 lbs. per day and averaged -0.002 ± 0.075 lbs. per day. The median ADG is 0.005 lbs. per day. The top-gaining buck is #408.  Three other bucks are gaining at least 0.10 lbs. per day:  #'s 409 (Barnes), 414 (Barrack), 444 (Majancsik, KY), and 453 (Patrick, GA).

Improved FAMACHA© scores
There was some improvement in FAMACHA© scores. FAMACHA© scores range from 1 to 4 and averaged 2.3 ± 0.5, compared to 2.5 ± 0.7 two weeks ago. The median FAMACHA© score was 2.  While only one goat had a FAMACHA© score of 4, eleven goats were dewormed with either levamisole or moxidectin. Goats with FAMACHA© scores of 3 were dewormed if they had one or more additional risk factors:  weight loss, scours, high fecal egg count, poor body condition, and/or rough hair coat.

Soft feces
Body condition, coat condition, and dag scores remained relatively unchanged, whereas fecal consistence scores declined. They averaged 3.3 ± 0.9, compared to 3.8 ± 0.6 two weeks ago. The softer stools are a reflection of the forage the goats are grazing. According to the forage test, the Sunn Hemp/millet mixture was 83.2 percent moisture (water), whereas the orchardgrass contained only 56.1 percent moisture.

Next two weeks
The bucks are now grazing a 2-acre paddock that was planted in dwarf pearl millet and cowpeas. This field has always been problematic, so it also contains a lot of weeds, which the goats are preferring to eat. A forage sample was collected, based on observations of what the goats were eating. It will be analyzed for nutritive content.

In the new field of cowpeas and millet

A pooled fecal sample was also collected. It will be analyzed to determine the nutritive content of the diet the goats consumed for the previous 36 to 48 hours. It will provide another measure of the quality of the Sunn Hemp/millet pasture mix.

The bucks continue to be supplemented daily with soy hulls. They are currently consuming 1/2 lb. per head per day. The next batch of soy hulls purchased will be an improved pellet that contains less fines (powder).

Download July 31 (d-56) Report

Friday, August 1, 2014

Egg Counts Increase

Fecal egg counts continued to increase. For the samples collected on July 17, fecal egg counts ranged from 133 to 12800 epg and averaged 2727 ± 2526 epg. The median egg count was 2033 epg. Two weeks ago, egg counts averaged 1680 ± 1607 epg and the median was 1338 epg.

Despite the high egg counts, eight (8) bucks had fecal egg counts below 500 epg and twenty had egg counts below 1000 epg. However, thirty-one (31) bucks had fecal egg counts above 2000 epg, which is usually a disqualifying egg count for the test.

In addition to being a lot of variability among individual goats, there is also considerable variability among consignments. On July 17, all of the bucks in the Ballinger (KY), Barnes (KY), and Heise (PA) consignments had fecal egg counts below 2000 epg. All of the Barnes and Heise bucks and three out of the four Ballinger bucks are still meeting the test standards for average and high fecal egg count.

All of the bucks were given a copper oxide wire particle (COWP) bolus on July 17. The fecal egg counts from the July 31 samples will be compared to the fecal egg counts from July 17 to determine the effect of copper oxide wire particles (COWP). COWP's  have been shown to reduce barber pole worm infections in kids and lambs.

Download July 17 FEC (d-42) Report

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Forage Analyses

For the past two weeks, the goats have had access to a paddock containing a mixture of dwarf pearl millet (warm season grass) and Sunn Hemp (warm season legume). Though they were slow to graze it initially, they have now consumed almost all of the Sunn Hemp (leaves) and are now grazing down the millet. Tomorrow, they will be moved to a field that was planted in millet and cow peas (another warm season legume).

On July 18, fresh forage samples were collected from the paddocks that the goats have been grazing for the past two weeks. They were analyzed for nutritive content by Cumberland Valley Analytical Services.

Explanation of forage analysis
Dry  matter (DM) is the air-dried component of the feedstuff with all the moisture removed. Animals use nutrients on a dry matter basis. CP (crude protein) is based on the nitrogen content of the feed. It is 6.25 times the nitrogen content.

Neutral detergent Fiber (NDF) represents the total fiber content of the feedstuff. As NDF increases, intake is expected to decline. Acid detergent fiber (ADF) is the value that corresponds to the level of cellulose and lignin in the plant. Lignin is considered indigestible. ADF is an estimation of the component of the feedstuff that is indigestible. The greater the ADF value, the more indigestible the feedstuff.

Sunn Hemp + Dwarf Pearl Millet

Total digestible nutrients (TDN) is an estimate of the energy content of the feed or roughage. Typically, the greater the value, the more energy dense the feedstuff is considered. Relative Feed Value (RFV) is an index that ranks forages on NDF and ADF, as compared to full-bloom alfalfa which is assigned an RFV of 100.

Source:  Interpreting forage and feed analysis reports

Energy supplementation
The bucks continue to be supplemented with soybean hulls. They are currently consuming approximately 0.5 lbs. per head per day (approximately 1% of their body weight). The data received from the Animal Grazing Lab (in Texas) supports the wisdom of supplemental feeding of soy hulls (energy).