Sunday, September 25, 2016

Top Performers of 2016

The top-performing bucks must excel in growth performance, parasite resistance, and parasite resilience and meet minimum standards for structural correctness and reproductive soundness.

It was easy to select the five top-performing bucks of this year's test. All five met the criteria for parasite resistance, having average fecal egg counts of less than 1000 epg and high egg counts less than 2000 epg. None required deworming. All exceeded the average for growth. All were structurally and reproductively sound (testicles, teats, teeth, hooves, etc.)

The next five were more difficult to select (six were selected), as all had higher egg counts than in previous years. Of course, this was an especially challenging year for parasites, high egg counts combined with total dewormer resistance. An effort was made to include bucks that did not have excessively high egg counts or multiple high egg counts. The pattern of the egg counts was also examined. None of the second five (six) required deworming. The second group includes the three bucks with the highest ADG and several of the bucks with best USDA grades (muscling scores).

Consigner State ID ADG Avg FEC Avg FAM
Weber IL 687 0.240 775 1.0
Yutzy OH 699 0.216 646 1.7
Peters NC 661 0.153 364 1.8
Murphy NJ 648 0.170 830 1.0
Davis MO 616 0.146 784 2.0
Dennison KY 618 0.294 2408 2.2
Gamby OH 624 0.261 2280 2.2
Loos IL 639 0.269 2355 1.2
Murphy NJ 649 0.216 1922 1.8
Larr IN 638 0.173 1342 1.5
Dennison KY 617 0.151 1456 1.8

This year's top-performing buck is 687 consigned by John Weber from Illinois. The top consigner is Jarred Dennison from Kentucky.  The top consigner is the consigner with the three best bucks. Jarred has two bucks in the top 10.  P.J. Murphy also has two bucks in the top 10. The most resistant buck is 661 consigned by David Peters from  North Carolina. The most resilient bucks are 687 and 648 consigned by Weber and Murphy, respectively.

The top-gaining buck is 618 consigned by Jarred Dennison. Richard Gamby and Angie Loos also had goats with ADG above 0.25 lbs. per day. 639 is the only buck that was graded a USDA Selection 1. 649 had the largest scrotal circumference (27 cm) of any buck in the test.

Click on the table below to view a more complete summary of the data from this year's top performing bucks.

43 Goats Did Not Require Deworming

Resilience is the ability of the animal to withstand parasite infection:  to maintain health and productivity. For the barber pole worm, the primary measure of resilience is a FAMACHA© score. A FAMACHA© score estimates the level of anemia in a goat. Anemia is the primary symptom of barber pole worm infection. According to larvae ID, the majority of the parasites in the goats were barber pole worms (Haemonchus contortus).

Every two weeks, the goats were handled to determine their FAMACHA© scores. FAMACHA© scores were used to determine the need for deworming. Goats with FAMACHA© scores of 1 or 2 were not dewormed, whereas those with scores 4 or 5 were dewormed. Goats with FAMACHA© scores of 3 were dewormed (or not) depending upon the criteria of the Five Point Check©, along with growth performance and fecal egg counts.

FAMACHA© scores improved after the initial dewormings, but worsened as the test continued.  Excluding the initial dewormings (on June 23-24), seventy-eight anthelmintic treatments were administered, an average of 0.8 treatments per goat. Forty-three goats did not require deworming during the test. Some goats required multiple treatments. The ineffectiveness of the drugs may have contributed to the need for multiple treatments.

FAMACHA© scores and anthelmintic treatments (Tx) were used to determine differences in resilience among the bucks in the test. The most resilient bucks in the test were 648 (Murphy, NJ) and 687 (Weber, IL). Both of these bucks had FAMACHA© scores of 1 each time they were checked. Neither required deworming.

Download FAMACHA© Summary

Goats Faced Huge Parasite Challenge

The primary goal of the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Test is to identify meat goat bucklings that are resistant and resilient to gastro-intestinal parasites. Parasite resistance is quantified by fecal egg counts:  eggs per gram of feces (EPG). It is assumed that a higher egg count equates to more worms in the animal's gut. Adult worms lay eggs and suck blood, whereas immature worms only suck blood.

Upon arrival, fecal egg counts ranged from 0 to 21150 epg and averaged 1070 ±  3024 epg. The standard deviation was almost three times the mean, indicating a very wide variation in starting egg counts. In fact, the median FEC was only 100 epg. If the two egg counts that were above 10000 epg are removed from the data set, the mean is reduced to 652 ± 1314 epg.

Fecal egg counts doubled by day 42 (2349 ± 2006 epg, median 1988 epg) and began to get dangerously high by day 56 (4584 ± 3844, median 3750 epg). By day 70, the average fecal egg count had risen to 5739 ± 5937 epg (median, 4233 epg).  The barber pole worm is a prolific egg-layer. 2000 epg is often considered to be of clinical significance. Egg counts above 5000 epg are considered very high and losses can be expected.

In the test, bucks whose average egg counts are below 1000 epg and highest egg counts are below 2000 epg are considered to be resistant. This year, five bucks met this criteria:  616 (Davis, MO), 648 (Murphy, NJ), 661 (Peters, NC), 687 (Weber, IL), and 699 (Yutzy, OH). The most resistant buck in the test is 661. His fecal egg count averaged 364 epg. His highest fecal egg count was only 920 epg.

A maximum of five fecal egg counts was used to evaluate the bucks for parasite resistance. The incoming FEC (June 23-24) was not factored into test results because it would have been the result of past management practices and not necessarily genetics. The next fecal egg count (July 8) was also not factored into test results because it was affected by the initial dewormings with Valbazen®, Cydectin®, and Prohibit®.

Many things confounded the analysis of fecal egg count data and identification of resistant bucks.  If a goat required deworming, his next fecal egg count (14 days  later) was not factored into test results, as it would have been affected (hopefully reduced) by the treatment. In the summary report, the fecal egg counts that follow dewormings are in red text. It is not always possible to obtain a fecal sample from a goat, especially if it has scours. If a goat doesn't have a fecal sample, it can't be disqualifying. Two attempts are made to obtain fecal samples from the goats. Resistance to all the drugs is another confounding factor. Fortunately, the initial dewormings were largely effective at reducing fecal egg counts in the goats that came in with high loads.

It goes without saying that this year's test bucks faced a very serious parasite challenge. This has been the situation for the past several years, but this year, the challenge was especially high. The five most resistant bucks in this year's test should be highly valued.

Special thanks to Dr. Dahlia O'Brien at Virginia State University for doing all the fecal egg counts and larvae ID. She has supported the test for many years and we couldn't do it without her.

Download fecal egg count summary

Growth Summary

When the goats arrived to the test site on June 23-24, their weights ranged from 33.6 to 79.2 lbs. and averaged 48.2 ± 9.3 lbs. The median weight was 46.8 lbs.  Eighteen bucks failed to meet the minimum weight requirement of 40 lbs.

The goats were weighed on July 7 and 8 to determine starting (on-test) weights. The averaged starting weights ranged from 32.4 to 78.8 lbs. and averaged 50.1 ± 9.0 lbs. The median starting weight was 49.3 lbs. During the 13-day adjustment period, gain ranged from -8.3 to 9.7 lbs. and averaged 2.1 ± 3.4 lbs. The median gain was 2.5 lbs. or 0.179 lbs. per day.

For the first 42 days of the test, ADG ranged from -0.150 to 0.317 lbs. per day and averaged 0.116 ± 0.097 lbs. per day. For the first 42 days of the test, the top-gaining buck was 649 (Murphy, NJ). 639 (Loos, IL) gained almost as much, 0.310 lbs. per day.

For the 70 day duration of the test, ADG ranged from -0.093 to 0.294 lbs. per day and averaged 0.099 ± 0.087 lbs. per day. The top gaining buck was 618 (Dennison, KY).  624 (Gamby, OH) and 639 (Loos, IL) are the only other bucks that gained more than 0.25 lbs. per day.

If the 13 days of the adjustment period are included, ADG ranged from -0.135 to 0.301 lbs. per day and averaged a similar 0.108 ± 0.084 lbs. per day. If the adjustment period is included, the top gaining buck changes to 687 (Weber, IL).

Download ADG summary by consigner
Download ADG summary by ranking

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Day 70

During the past 14 days, the goats lost an average of 0.55 lbs. Gain/loss ranged from -9.8 to 5 lbs. and averaged -0.55 ± 3.06 lbs. The large standard deviation is indicative of the extremely variable performance among the test goats.  The median gain (loss) was -0.1 lbs.

ADG ranged from -0.700 to 0.357 lbs. per day and averaged -0.039 ± 0.218 lbs. per day. The median ADG was -0.007 lbs. per day. The top gaining goats for the period were 602 (Ballenger, KY), 609 (Brown, NC), and 624 (Gamby, OH).

Test favorites:  643 (Forest) and 603 (Baby)

For the 70 days of the test, ADG ranged from -0.093 to 0.294 lbs. per day and averaged 0.099 ± 0.087 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.103 lbs. per day. The top gaining buck was 618 (Dennison, KY).

Two other goats gained more than 0.25 lbs. per day: 624 (Gamby, OH) and 639 (Loos, IL). Ten more goats gained between 0.20 and 0.25 lbs. per day: 631 (Guffey, MO), 641 (Loos), 649 (Murphy, NJ), 655 (Patrick, KY), 675 (Sharp, KY), 677 (Slavens, KS), 687 (Weber, IL), 692 (Wilborn, AL), 696 (Winingeal/White, MO) and 699 (Yutzy, OH).

Heading up the laneway

Over the past two weeks, FAMACHA© scores worsened. They ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 2.5 ± 0.8 compared to 2.2 ± 0.8 two weeks ago. The median FAMACHA© score was 2.0. Twenty-seven goats were dewormed with levamisole (Prohibit®). Due to the high fecal egg counts on September 1, all goats were given 1 g of copper oxide wire particles.

Body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores averaged 2.2 ± 0.3, 2.0 ± 0.1, 0 ± 0.1, and 1.2 ± 0.5, respectively. Median scores were 2.3, 2.0, 0, and 1.0, respectively. Only a couple of cases of scours were observed. Several goats were penned for treatment for respiratory distress or other problems.

Download September 15 (day 70) report

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Day 56 Leader Board

As of day 56, these are the fifteen top-performing bucks. None of these top-performing goats has required deworming. Eleven of the fifteen have not had fecal egg counts above 2000 epg. Eleven of the fifteen have average fecal egg counts below 1000 epg (5 samples). Eleven of the fifteen have ADG ratios above 100.

The goats will be weighed and scored two more times (September 15 and 29). They will be weighed two days in a row (September 29 and 30) to determine off-test weights. Two more fecal samples will be collected.  Much can still change in test results. Another buck may emerge as the leader. The top 10 may reshuffle. Another buck may be added to the group.

As of day 56, the most resistant buck in the test is #661 (Peters, NC). Several goats are tied for being the most resilient (lowest average FAMACHA© scores).  The top-gaining goat is #650 (Murphy, NJ).  650 is gaining 0.329 lbs. per day. Three additional goats are gaining more than 0.3 lbs. per day:  618 (Dennison, KY), 639 (Loos, IL), and 649 (Murphy). Angie Loos also has the top-gaining goat in the Performance & Carcass Contest. It is gaining 0.464 lbs. per day.

Only "tough" bucks thrive in the Maryland test!

Towards the end of the test, the goats will be scanned to determine rib eye area and depth. They will be evaluated for structural correctness, reproductive soundness, and USDA grade.

Performance Pays

Congratulations to David Peters from North Carolina. His top-performing buck from the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test was the high selling goat at the 2016 Bluegrass Performance Invitational in Frankfort, Kentucky. The buck brought $4000.  It was purchased by Troy Lohman from Illinois.

Top-performing buck
Right:  David Peters
Left:  Troy Lohman

Image source:  AKGA

As of day 56, David has two of the top-performing bucks in this year's test. He was the top consigner in last year's Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.