Sunday, June 28, 2015

84 Bucks Start Test

Eighty-four (84) bucks started the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. Approximately half of the bucks were worked on June 24; the other half were worked on June 26.

Upon arrival, the bucks stood in a foot bath containing zinc sulfate. They were weighed by Jeff Semler. FAMACHA®, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores were determined by Susan Schoenian. To make sure the goats started the test equally and "free" from parasites, they were sequentially dewormed (orally) with albendazole (Valbazen®), moxidectin (Cydectin®), and levamisole (Prohibit®), according to the dosage recommendations of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC).

A sample of this year's test bucks

A test tag was inserted in the opposite ear as the scrapie tag. An individual fecal sample was collected from each buck. A pooled fecal sample was collected by obtaining fecal material from each consignment. Fecal samples were sent to Virginia State University of analysis.

This year's bucks ranged in weight from 32.6 to 71.8 lbs. and averaged 49.0 lbs ± 8.4. The median weight was 47.8 lbs. The bucks are approximately five pounds heavier than last year.

For this year's test bucks, FAMACHA© scores ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 2.2 ± 0.7. The median score was 2.0. Last year, FAMACHA© scores averaged 1.6 ± 0.6 on the bucks' day of arrival. The median score was also 2.0. FAMACHA© scores are a measure of anemia, the primary symptom of Haemonchosis (barber pole worm infection). High FAMACHA© scores (4,5) are indicative of anemia and the need for deworming.

Body condition is one of the criteria of the Five Point Check©. Body condition scores (BCSs) range from 1 to 5, where 1 is emaciated and 5 is obese. For this year's test bucks, body condition scores ranged from 1.5 to 3 and averaged 2.4
± 0.3. The median body condition score was 2.5.

Resting before the test begins

In the Five Point Check©, coat condition replaces the nose check point (used in sheep to assess nasal bots).  Coat condition scores range from 1 to 3, with 2 being average. In this year's test bucks, coat condition scores ranged from 1.5 to 3 and averaged 2.1
± 0.2. The median coat condition score was 2.


Dag scores are part of the Five Point Check©. Dag scores reflect the amount of fecal soiling on the backside of the animal and are a measure of past or current scouring (diarrhea). Scores range from 0 to 5, with 0 being no fecal soiling and 5 being excessive soiling. In this year's test bucks, dag scores ranged from 0 to 2 and averaged 0
± 0.2. Only two goats had positive dag scores. The median dag score was 0.

Fecal consistency (FC) scores are not part of the Five Point Check©, but are assessed to determine if the goat is currently scouring. Scores range from 1 to 4, with 4 being normal feces (solid pellets) and 1 being liquid feces (diarrhea) For this year's test goats, fecal consistency scores ranged from 2 to 4 and averaged 3.9
± 0.4, as a few goats had soft stools. The median score was 4.0.

No bucks. Avg Wt Avg FAM Avg BCS Avg Coat Avg Dag Avg FC
84 49.0 2.2 2.4 2.1 0 3.9

The first 13 days of the test will serve as an adjustment period. The first data will be collected on July 9. The goats will be weighed on consecutive days to determine starting weights.

Good grazing conditions

The goats will spend the first half of the test grazing warm season annuals:  dwarf pearl millet + sunn hemp. The paddocks also have plenty of weeds to offer the goat a variety of plants for grazing. Throughout the test, the goats will be fed pelleted soy hulls daily. They will be started on the hulls slowly. The amount of hulls will be gradually increased until it reaches 0.75 lbs. per head per day.


Download June 26 (d  -13) Report

Monday, June 22, 2015

So long Sam . . . we'll miss you!

Merritt "Sam" Burke III  of Lewes, Delaware, passed away Thursday, June 18, 2015, peacefully at home on Lewes Beach with his family at his side. He was born in Milford, Delaware on October 28, 1943.

Sam (L) and his son Laurence (R)

Sam was a long time consignor to the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.  He was one of the test's strongest supporters. In 2011, Sam had the top-performing buck. He was named top consignor in 2012 and 2013. He had many other top-performing animals.

Earlier in the year, the Cape Gazette had written an article about Sam's Cedar Creek Farm and Kiko goats. Sam consigned five bucks to this year's test.

Read article in Cape Gazette

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pre-test Deworming Protocol

Upon arrival, all goats will be sequentially dewormed with albendazole (Valbazen©), moxidectin (Cydectin©), and levamisole (Prohibit©). They will be orally dosed based on weight. Dosages will be those recommended by the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (see dewormer chart for goats).

The purpose of the initial sequential dosing is to make sure all the goats start the test equally and "free" from parasites. This way, the differences observed in the test can be attributed to genetics and not environment.

There is no benefit to deworming a goat prior to the test, unless it becomes clinically parasitized. Deworming prevents a goat from developing immunity. All goats eventually developed immunity to parasites, though immunity can always be overcome by stress and a heavy parasite challenge. To develop immunity, goats need continuous exposure to parasites.

The first 13 days of the test will serve as an adjustment period. Initial data will be collected on July 9. The data collected on June 26 will not count towards the test results, as it is the result of past  management. Fecal samples collected on June 26 and July 9 will be compared to determine the efficacy of the sequential deworming. In the past, the sequential deworming has reduced fecal egg counts by more than 95 percent.

All additional dewormings will be based on need, according to FAMACHA© scores, the Five Point Check©, and other criteria (e.g. weight gain/loss).  Read deworming protocol.

Parasite resistance (fecal egg counts) and parasite resilience (FAMACHA© scores and treatment need) are two of the primary criteria that will be used to identify the 10 top-performing bucks. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

94 Bucks Nominated

As of today, ninety-four (94) bucks have been nominated to the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.  It is still possible to received more nominations, if they were postmarked and mailed on or before the deadline (June 1).

Nominations were received from 26 consignors. Sixteen are previous consignors. Ten are first-time consignors.  Twelve states will be represented in this year's test:  Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Kentucky is the state with the most goats and consignors, 23 and 6, respectively.

According to the nomination forms, all of the consigned bucks are Kiko or Kiko cross. However, not everyone filled out the breed information on the nomination form.

State
No. consignors
No. goats
Alabama
1
4
Delaware
1
5
Illinois
4
12
Indiana
1
4
Kansas
2
6
Kentucky
6
23
Maryland
2
6
New Jersey
1
5
North Carolina
3
10
Tennessee
3
11
Vermont
1
3
Virginia
1
5
Totals
26
94

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two Weeks Until Nomination Period Ends

The nomination period for the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Test will end in approximately two weeks, on June 1.  So far, 41 bucks have been nominated. 

It is not necessary to identify specific bucks at the time of nomination. All nominations received by the nomination deadline will be treated equally. Unless prior arrangements are made, bucks should be delivered to the test site on Friday, June 26. Health papers and official scrapie ID are required.

Nomination checks ($20/buck) should be made payable to the MPWV Meat Goat Producers Association, a co-sponsor of this year's test.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Test Site Update

Preparations are being made for the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test, which will begin on June 26.

Sheep have been brought to the site to graze the cool season grass paddocks. The sheep grazing has two purposes:  to control spring forage growth and to "seed" the pastures with infective worm larvae. Unlike the past few years, the goats will not begin the test on the contaminated cool season grass paddocks. They will start the test on the "clean' warm season annual grasses and legumes. The goats will not graze the cool season grass paddocks until around August 20. 

After grazing by the sheep, the cool season grass paddocks will have almost a 60-day rest period. This should be sufficient time for plant regrowth and die-off of worms eggs and infective larvae. According to research conducted at Langston University (Oklahoma), it take about 60 days of rest for a highly-contaminated pasture to become a lowly-contaminated pasture.

Hopefully, enough worm larvae will remain to provide a significant parasite challenge to the test bucks. On the other hand, this year's pastures won't be as contaminated as those in the past, which should allow the goats a better opportunity to express their genetic potential for growth.


A feed bin has been added to the test site. Soy hull pellets will be purchased in bulk and be stored in the bin. While on the test, the bucks will be fed soy hull pellets daily, at a rate of approximately 1.5% of their body weight or 0.75 lbs. per head  per day. Fecal samples from last  year's goats showed the all-pasture diet to be deficient in energy; thus, the need for (energy) supplementation. From a nutritional standpoint, soy hulls complement a pasture (or forage) diet better than cereal grains (starch).

The hoop house's second cover was destroyed during winter storms and will need replaced (again!).


35 Bucks Nominated

So far, thirty-five bucks have been nominated to the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance. Nominations have been received from nine breeders, representing seven states. There are three new consignors and six returning consignors. Most of the bucks are Kiko.

State
No. consignors
No. bucks
Alabama
1
4
Delaware
1
5
Illinois
1
3
Kentucky
3
12
New Jersey
1
5
Tennessee
1
3
Vermont
1
3
Totals
9
35

The nomination deadline is June 1.  All nominations received by the deadline will be treated equally. Bucks must be delivered to the test site on Friday, June 26, unless prior arrangements are made to drop them off early.

Nomination checks should be written to the MPWV Meat Goat Producers Association, the co-sponsor of this year's 10th anniversary test.