Monday, April 25, 2016

33 Goats Nominated So Far

So far, thirty-three (33) goats have been nominated to the 2016 Western Maryland Pasture-Based  Meat Goat Performance Test. Two goats have been nominated for the Performance & Carcass Contest. A minimum of 10 is needed.

All nominations received by the June 1 deadline will be treated equally. A maximum of 80 goats is being sought for this year's test. If nominations exceed test capacity, previous consigners and Maryland residents will be favored. In the past, voluntary reductions in consignments have reduced numbers sufficiently.

It is not necessary to nominate specific goats to the test. Only the number of goats is needed at the time of nomination. Consigners who consign five goats to the test and enter a goat in the carcass contest will receive a $20 per head discount for test goats.

State # consigners # test goats # contest goats
Alabama 1 5 1
Georgia 1 4 0
Kentucky 2 10 1
Missouri 2 4 0
New Jersey 1 5 0
Ohio 1 5 0
TOTAL 8 33 2

Spring has been very dry in Western Maryland. Consequently, the sheep have not been brought for grazing (yet).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Nomination Period Open

The nomination period for the 2016 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test and Performance & Carcass Contest is now open. All nominations received by the deadline will be treated equally. The nomination deadline is June 1. If nominations exceed test capacity (~80 goats), preference will be given to Maryland residents and previous consignors.

The test and contest are open to goat producers from any state, who may consign up to five male goats to the test and one male goat to the contest. The goats may be of any breed or breed cross, with or without registration papers or eligibility. They must have been born between January 1 and March 15, 2016, and weigh between 40 and 70 lbs. upon delivery to the test site on (Friday) June 24. Goats can be delivered before June 24, if prior arrangements are made.

The goats will start the test on warm season annuals.

Prior to delivery, the goats must have received two vaccinations for clostridial diseases (CDT or Covexin®-8) and have been weaned for at least 2 weeks. Hooves should be trimmed if necessary to allow the foot bath solution to penetrate the hoof. There is no benefit to deworming the goats prior to the test (unless a goat is clinically parasitized). Deworming can be detrimental, as it interferes with the development of immunity.  Upon arrival, the goats will be sequentially dosed with dewormers from each dewormer class (albendazole + moxidectn + levamisole).  It is suggested that they be acclimated to a pasture diet.

To nominate goats for the test and contest, fill out, sign, and send in the nomination form, along with the nomination fee. It is not necessary to choose specific goats until delivery time. Only the number of goats is needed. There is a $20/goat nomination fee for test goats. There is no fee to enter a goat in the performance and carcass contest. The total fee for testing a goat is $120. The balance of payment is due June 24. Consignors who consign five goats to the test, plus a goat to the carcass contest, will receive a $20/head discount. Checks should be made payable to the University of Maryland.

Health papers are required for entry to the test.  All goats must be officially identified with USDA scrapie ID. If a goat shows evidence of a contagious disease (e.g. abscess) or is otherwise unhealthy, it will be refused entry to the test. Upon arrival, all goats will be ear-tagged with a program (WMREC) tag. If the goat has a second tag (other than scrapie ID), it will be removed for the new tag.

Upon arrival, all goats will be vaccinated for soremouth (orf, contagious ecthyma). The vaccine will be applied to the inside of the ear. The goats will also stand in a footbath of zinc sulfate. Fecal samples will be collected to quantify the initial worm infection and determine the effectiveness of sequential deworming. The purpose of the sequential deworming is to make sure all goats start the test (on July 7) equally and "free" from worms. This way differences observed during the test can be attributed to genetics and not environment. In order to identify resistant (and resilient) goats, a significant parasite challenge is required.

This year, the goats will be supplemented with whole barley.

The test will officially start on July 7, after a 13-day adjustment period.  Goats will be weighed two days in a row at the beginning (July 7-8) and end (Sept 29-30) of the test. Weights will be averaged to determine beginning (on-test) and ending (off-test) weights. To improve the accuracy of weights, all goats will be weighed before being scored or having fecal samples collected.

The goats will be handled bi-weekly (on Thursdays) to determine body weights, FAMACHA©, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores. Fecal samples will be collected bi-weekly from the rectum of each goat. Pooled fecal samples will be collected (from random goats) every 4 weeks. Fecal egg counts and larvae ID will be done by Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab at Virginia State University. A pooled fecal sample will also be submitted to the University of Georgia (mid-test) to determine efficacy of anthelmintics.

While on test, the goats will be managed as a single herd on pasture. They will be rotationally-grazed among six ~2-acre paddocks composed of various cool and warm season grasses and legumes. During the first half (42 days) of the test, the goats will graze warm season annuals. They will graze cool season grasses during the second half of the test (42 days). Throughout the test, the goats will be supplemented with grain (whole barley) daily, at a rate not to exceed 1 lb. per head per day. The grain will be introduced during the adjustment period and gradually increased, according to appetite. 

The goats will always have access to the central laneway, containing water, feeders, port-a-hut shelters, a handling system (covered by a hoop house), and environmental enrichment.  Sick goats will be housed in a treatment pen in the central laneway.

Last year's goats were all Kiko or Kiko-influenced.

The contest goats will be housed in a zero grazing pen, with ample room for social interaction and expression of natural behavior. They will be fed a ration of hay (alfalfa-orchardgrass mix) and whole barley. Both test goats and contest goats will have free choice access to a mineral mix. The contest goats will be weighed every 4 weeks. At the end of the feeding period, they will be harvested to collect carcass data.

At the conclusion of the test and contest, the 10 top-performing bucks will be identified and recognized. The top performing contest goat (lean gain per day) will be recognized, along with the goat with the best carcass, as determined by percent yield of boneless, fat-free meat.

Please direct any questions pertaining to the test and contest to Susan Schoenian at (301) 432-2767 or sschoen@umd.edu.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Enter the Carcass Contest

To enter a goat in the Performance & Carcass Contest, include the goat on your nomination form. There is space for six goats:  five test goats and one contest goat. The requirements for the contest goats are the same as those for the test goats.

There is no nomination or test fee for the contest goats. There is a $20 nomination fee for the test goats. The total testing fee is $120 per goat. There is a discount of $20/goat if you enter a goat in the carcass contest.

Download procedures for Performance Contest
Nomination form for test goats and contest goats

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Nomination Packets

Nomination packets will be mailed to 2014 and 2015 consignors in early April. Nomination packets will also be mailed upon request. To request a nomination packet, please contact Pam Thomas at pthomas@umd.edu or (301) 432-2767 x315.

Nomination packets will include a letter to consignors, nomination form, guidelines and protocol, deworming guidelines, animal health requirements, animal health self-certification form, buck information sheets, kid data sheets and codes, and performance and carcass contest procedures.

A producer may consign up to five male goats to the test.  Anyone who consigns at least one goat is eligible to enter a goat in the performance and carcass contest. Those who consign five goats to the test and have a goat in the carcass contest will receive a discount of $20 per test goat. There is no cost to enter the carcass contest.

Monday, March 21, 2016

2016 WV Small Ruminant Evaluation

West Virginia University conducts an annual performance test for rams and bucks. Due to changes in funding, the test has been moved from Wardensville to Morgantown.

Rams/bucks should be delivered to WVU Animal Science Farm on Saturday, May 14. Nomination forms need to be post-marked by April 29 and include a check for $20 per ram/buck. The estimated cost of testing is $100, due at the time the rams/bucks are delivered to the test site.

A maximum of 30 rams and 30 bucks will be accepted for the test. Rams/bucks of any meat breed will be accepted to the test. Rams/bucks will be sold August 20.

Pertinent documents can be downloaded from the West Virginia Small Ruminant Evaluation web site at http://sheepandgoats.wvu.edu/

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Performance & Carcass Contest

The 2016 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test will feature a Goat Performance & Carcass Contest. The purpose of the contest is to collect performance and carcass data from meat goats fed a moderate energy diet and to recognize producers whose goats excel in performance and carcass merit.

The contest is open to all consignors. Consignors must have a least one goat in the test in order to enter a goat in the contest. Contest goats must have a litter mate or half-sib in the test. There is no cost to enter the contest. The test will cover the cost of feed, health care, slaughter, and data collection. Consignors who consign five goats to the test and have a goat in the carcass contest will receive a discount of $20 per test goat. A minimum of 10 goats and a maximum of 15 is needed to hold the contest.

The criteria for contest goats is the same as test goats: male (buck or wether); any breed or breed cross; born between January 1 and March 15, 2016; weigh between 40 and 70 lbs. upon delivery to test site on June 24; vaccinated for CDT twice, and weaned for at least 2 weeks. Inter- or Intrastate Health papers and official USDA scrapie ID are required for all goats.

The goats will be housed in a 16 ft. x 16 ft. zero grazing pen, with ample room for exercise, social interaction, and expression of natural behavior. They will be fed a hay and grain diet: approximately 2 lbs. per head per day of a mixed alfalfa-grass hay and 1 lb. per head per day day of whole barley.

The goats will be weighed upon arrival and every 4 weeks. They will be harvested to collect carcass data. Carcasses will be de-boned to determine the yield of boneless, fat-free meat. In addition to recognizing the goat with the best carcass, calculations will be made to determine the goat(s) with the best lean growth (per day of test and per day of age), value, and return ($).

Performance & Carcass Contest Procedures

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Changes for 2016

For 2016, a few changes will be made to the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.

Any goat with a FAMACHA© score of 3 that loses weight (> 0.1 lb.) during the previous two week period will be dewormed. If the goat didn't lose weight, it may still be dewormed based on the Five Point Check© and other factors. In many countries, performance (a.k.a. the "Happy Factor") is used as the main criteria for making deworming decisions.

FAMACHA© score 3
Lose weight = get dewormed

All of the goats will be weighed before FAMACHA©, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores are determined. Eighty goats can be weighed rather quickly, whereas it takes several hours to score eighty goats. There is concern that some goats may be losing too much weight (feces + urine) while they are waiting to be worked.

The goats will be supplemented daily with whole barley instead of soyhull pellets. Barley is more economical and the research farm is willing to provide it for the test. There will also be less waste, as the soyhulls were quite powdery and often not totally consumed by the goats. Barley will be introduced slowly and gradually increased, based on appetite. Supplementation will not exceed 1 pound per head per day or approximately 2% of body weight (1 ÷ 50).

Goats will not leave the test site until all data has been received and evaluated.

Please contact Susan at sschoen@umd.edu or (301) 432-2767 x343, if you have suggestions for the test.