Thursday, October 20, 2016

Recap of 2016 Test

You can read a recap of this year's Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test at

Congratulations to consigners of  top bucks:
Top-performing - John Weber (IL)
Top consignment - Jarred Dennison (KY)
Top-gaining - Jarred Dennison
Most resistant - David Peters (NC)
Most resilient - John Weber and P.J. Murphy (NJ)

Jarred Dennison had two top-10 bucks
photo courtesy of Jarred Dennison

Congratulations to consigners of top-10 bucks:
John Weber
Steven Yutzy (OH)
David Peters
P.J. Murphy
Thomas Davis (MO)
Richard Gamby (OH)
Angie Loos (IL)
Patricia Larr (IN)
Jarred Dennison

P.J. Murphy and Jarred Dennison each had two bucks in the top-10.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Performance & Carcass Contest Recap

You can read a recap of the Performance & Carcass Contest at

Early in the feeding period
#4 (Res. Ch) and #10 (wether)

Congratulations to the winners:
Grand Champion:  Angie Loos (Illinois)
Reserve Champion:  Richard Gamby (Ohio)
3rd place:  William Winingear & Brittany White (Missouri)
4th place:  John Smith (Virginia)
5th place:  Patricia Larr (Indiana)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

No Test in 2017

The Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test will not be held in 2017. After 11 years of the test and 13 years of small ruminant grazing, the test site will be rested. All of the vegetation has been killed, and the site will be planted  in row crops in 2017. It will be replanted in forages next fall.

The present test has run its course. High levels of parasite infection, coupled with lack of efficacy of the anthelmintics (dewormers) has resulted in too many goats being unable to adapt to test conditions.

2016 was the 11th year of the test.

A new test will be considered for 2018. Many changes would be necessary, including 1) lower stocking rates (fewer goats); 2) selection of out-of-state goats based on a lottery system; 3) strict enforcement of minimum weight requirement (40 lbs); 4) grass-free laneway; 5) different supplementation strategy; and 6) removal of sheep from the grazing system.

Dealing with the high level of anthelmintic resistance is a more difficult challenge. Requiring a fecal egg count reduction of 95% or more (the research standard) would result in few goats remaining in the test. Goats with zero or low egg counts would also have to be eliminated if their egg counts went up significantly after the sequential deworming, as this is indicative of resistant immature warms.

The dewormer resistance doesn't mean a goat can't be effectively treated, as combination treatments usually allieve clinical symptoms (anemia and bottle jaw), but resistance makes it difficult to get valid fecal egg count (resistance) data. Parasite resistance has always been the trademark of the Maryland test.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Our Favorite Bucks

Buckskin (621)
Buckskin (621) was Lexie's favorite buck.
Lexie provided daily care of the goats.
Johnny/Bama (635)
Johnny/Bama (635) quickly established himself as one of the favorites.
He's the only buck that ever jumped onto the work platform.
Nipper (648)
Nipper liked to bite people's bottoms. Nipper is not his politically
correct name. He was also a top 5 buck.
Baby (603)
Baby might be the all-time favorite buck in the Maryland test. He earned his
name, but would also challenge bucks much bigger than himself. If he hadn't
gone back to the farm, someone might have made a pet out of him.
Forest (643, on the left beside Baby)
After being in the sick pen a couple of times, Forest became very
friendly. He did very well the second half of the test.
Boomer (649)
After being the top-performing buck in the first half of the test, Boomer
sensed he was special. He was easily recognizable with his white front leg.
Louie (624)
In the early part of the test, Louie (624) got pinned under one of the grain
feeders. When he was found, he couldn't even hold his head up. Not only
did he recover quickly, but he ended up being a top 10 buck.
The Violator (650)
650 was the biggest buck in the test.
No explanation should be necessary for his nickname.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Supplemental Data

The bucks were handled for a final time on September 29.  Additional data was collected on each buck.

Scrotal circumference (SC) is a highly heritable trait. It was measured using a scrotal tape. In the test bucks, it ranged from 17.5 to 27.5 cm and averaged 22.6 ± 2.1 cm. The median SC was 23 cm. The buck with largest scrotal circumference was 649 (Murphy, NJ).  It was a top 10 buck.

USDA Selection 1

Minimums for scrotal circumference have not been determined for meat goats. In the absence of standards, producers are encouraged to select bucks with larger testicles. Weight is the biggest determinant of scrotal size. Nutrition also has a large effect.

Teat structure is heritable. All but two bucks had a sound teat structure and two teats. Two bucks had supernumerary teats, including cluster teats. Supernumerary teats are associated with teat abnormalities. Two teats is the norm and the preference for meat goats.

Jaw defects are heritable. No buck had a severe jaw abnormality. A few bucks had slight over or underbites.  Goats, especially bucks, with severe defects should be culled. An over or underbite of 1 to 3 mm is considered to be slight.

Hoof growth is heritable. Hoofs were examined to determine the degree of growth and any abnormalities. 0 denoted little to no hoof growth, whereas 5 designated severely overgrown hooves. Hoof growth ranged from 0 to 3 and averaged 1.1 ± 0.6. Only one goat displayed abnormal hoof growth (abnormal heel growth).

Good structure

All of the bucks were evaluated for the structure:  feet and legs, movement, etc. No buck was determined to be structurally unsound.

Each buck was assigned a USDA grade. The USDA grades for live goats are Selection 1, 2 and 3. 1 denotes a heavy muscled goat. 2 denotes a goat with average muscling. 3 denotes a goat with inferior muscling. An unthrifty goat is called a cull.

USDA grades ranged from 1 to 3 and averaged 2.25 ± 0.48. Quarter scores were used. Only one buck was determined to be USDA Selection 1:  639 (Loos, IL). It was a top 10 buck. Nutrition has a large effect on USDA grade. Pasture-raised goats tend to have higher (poorer) grades than fed goats.

Download Supplemental Data Report

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Parasite Resilience: Top 10

Parasite resilience is the animal's ability to tolerate a parasite load. There are many ways to quantify parasite resilience. Since the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) is the primary parasite affecting the goats in the test and its primary symptom is anemia, FAMACHA© scores can be used to quantify resilience. 

A packed cell volume (PCV) is the percentage of red blood cells in circulating blood. It is a measure of anemia. A FAMACHA© score is an estimate of packed cell volume (PVC) or anemia.  Growth performance can be another indicator of parasite resilience, although attaching resilience to performance is less certain, as there can be other reasons why a goat fails to grow (or grows well).

Every two weeks, FAMACHA© scores were determined. The same person (Susan) did the scoring. FAMACHA© scores were the primary criteria for determing the need to deworm an individual goat. Additional factors were considered when goats had FAMACHA© scores of 3.

Two goats tied for being the most resilient:  687 (Weber, Illinios) and 648 (Murphy, New Jersey). Each time these goats were examined, their FAMACHA© scores were 1.0. Neither goat required deworming and both goats had above average growth (ADG). Both were top 10 goats. Four of the most resilient goats in the test were top 10 goats. The other most resilient goats had other disqualifying data, such as poor growth performance or high fecal egg counts.

Ten goats had average FAMACHA© scores of 1.5. The three most resilient ones (rank of 8-10) were determined by considering growth performance and putting more emphasis on the last three FAMACHA©scores, when the parasite challenge was the highest. Two goats that had FAMACHA© scores of 3 were also eliminated.

Any goat that did not require deworming during this year's test showed considerable resilience, as clinical parasitism was high.

Top 10 Most Resilient Bucks
Rank Consigner ID Avg. FAM High FAM ADG # Tx
1 Weber* 687 1.00 1.00 0.240 0
2 Murphy* 648 1.00 1.00 0.170 0
3 Loos* 639 1.17 2.00 0.269 0
4 Murphy 650 1.17 2.00 0.137 0
5 Peters 663 1.17 2.00 0.083 0
6 Gamby 623 1.33 2.00 0.126 0
8 Barnes 605 1.50 2.00 0.113 0
9 Larr* 638 1.50 2.00 0.173 0
10 Pinneo 665 1.50 2.00 0.133 0
*Top 10 Buck

Parasite Resistance: Top 10

Parasite resistance is quantified by fecal egg counts (EPG):  average and high.  Five goats met the traditional (Gold, Silver, or Bronze) standards for parasite resistance. The Gold standard is an average FEC below 500 epg and the high FEC below 1000 epg. Only one buck met this standard: David Peters's 661. David (North Carolina) had last year's most resistant buck.

The Silver standard is an average FEC below 750 epg and the high FEC below 1500 epg. One buck met this standard:  699 (Yutzy, Ohio). The Bronze standard is an average FEC below 1000 epg and the high FEC below 2000 epg. Three more bucks met this standard:  687 (Weber, IL), 648 (Murphy, NJ), and 616 (Davis, MO).

Six of the most resistant bucks in the test were top 10 performers. The other four had other disqualifying data, such as low rate-of-gain or need for anthelmintic treatment. Only bucks with four samples or more were considered for top 10 ranking in parasite resistance.

Waldo Nelson from Maryland had two of the ten most resistant bucks in the test. Waldo has had resistant bucks in other tests.

Top 10 Most Resistant Bucks
Rank Consigner ID No. samples Avg. FEC High FEC # Tx
1 Peters* 661 5 364 920 0
2 Yutzy* 699 5 628 1250 0
3 Weber* 687 5 775 1700 0
4 Davis* 616 5 784 1525 0
5 Murphy* 648 5 830 1650 0
6 Nelson 652 4 1016 2500 0
7 Jarrett 634 4 1088 2450 1 (Lev)
8 Larr* 638 5 1342 4286 0
9 Nelson 654 5 1374 4225 0
10 Pritchett 668 4 1397 1600 1 (COWP)
*Top 10 buck

Being one of the most resistant bucks (especially top 5) is especially noteworthy this year, as the highest ever fecal egg counts were recorded. Egg counts may have gone even higher if a sample had been collected on September 29 (though all the goats were given 1 g bolus of COWPs, which may have kept egg counts from going even higher).