Friday, February 27, 2015

Bluegrass Performance Invitational

The 2015 Bluegrass Performance Invitational will be held September 4 and 5 at Lakeview Park in Frankfort, Kentucky. All consignors to the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based  Meat Goat Performance Test are eligible to consign to the sale.

If you are interested in being a consignor to this year's sale, please go the website and review the sale rules for complete details . Consignment sheets must be postmarked by April 30th to qualify for the sale.

For additional information, contact Jarred Dennison at (502) 395-0237.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Goats Replace Soldiers and Prisoners

The federal government built Fort Saulsbury, at the edge of the marsh near Slaughter Beach, in 1917 when World War I was getting into full swing. On 160 acres of sandy soil studded with native cedars, the fort consisted of two heavily fortified concrete bunkers and several support buildings.

Sam (L) and and his son Laurence (R)

During World War II, prisoners of war replaced the shells and powder and soldiers in the bunkers and buildings of Fort Saulsbury. These days, sheep and goats graze atop the bunkers and on open ground where barracks, an infirmary and other fort-associated structures stood. The Sam Burke family bought the property in 2002. 

 “We brought a few goats up here to get the vegetation under control, and they did so well we decided to try our hand with them,” said Sam Burke. Now, he said, Cedar Creek Farm -- known previously as Fort Saulsbury -- has a reputation for the quality of the Kiko goats it produces.

Read full article at

Cedar Creek Farm (Sam Burke) is a long-time consignor to the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter 2015 Wild & Woolly

The Winter 2015 issue of Wild & Woolly is now available. Wild & Woolly is a quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants. It is published by University of Maryland Extension It provides complete coverage of the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.

Winter 2015 Wild & Woolly - HTML
Winter 2015 Wild & Woolly - PDF

Winter 2015 Wild & Woolly via ISSUU

You can subscribe to the newsletter listserv to receive an e-message when a new issue of the newsletter has been published.  To subscribe, send an e-mail message to In the body of the message, write:  subscribe sheepandgoatnews.  You can also follow ISSUU to receive notification of new newsletters.

Printed copies of Wild & Woolly are available via mail for a cost recovery fee of $10/year. Checks payable to the University of Maryland should be send to Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysivlle, MD  21756.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2015 Test Schedule

Several changes will be implemented for the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. The purpose of the changes is to get better growth rates (ADG) and produce bigger (heavier) bucks by the end of the test, while still being able to effectively evaluate the bucks for parasite resistance and resilience.

The test will start and end later. Bucks must be delivered to the test site on Friday, June 26, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Bucks can be brought to the test site earlier (with prior approval), but cannot be brought after June 26.

The bucks will start the test on the warm season annuals.

Age requirements remain relatively the same. Eligible bucks must be born between January 1, 2015, and March 15, 2015. Since the goats will be almost a month older at the start of the test, the minimum starting weight has been increased to 40 lbs. Since goats will lose weight during transport, it is suggested that bucks weigh at least 45 lbs. on the farm, prior to transport (more if they are being transported from a far distance).

The later starting date will allow the goats to graze the "clean" warm season annual grasses and legumes upon arrival. The first six weeks of the test will serve as a "growth challenge." Upon arrival, the bucks will be sequentially dosed with dewormers from each anthelmintic class:  albendazole (Valbazen®), moxidectin (Cydectin®), and levamisole (Prohibit®). Last year's sequential deworming reduced fecal egg counts by 99 percent, after only six days, allowing the goats to start the test equally, with regards to parasites.

The goats will have a 13-day adjustment period. Starting weights will be recorded on July 9 and 10, after the reduction in fecal egg counts. Starting weights will be determined by averaging the weights recorded on July 9 and 10.The test will last for 84 days. Midway through the test, the goats will be switched to the cool season grass paddocks. These paddocks will have been grazed by infected sheep prior to the test.

The second part of the test will serve as the "parasite challenge." The bucks will be handled every 14 days to determine body weights, FAMACHA©, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores. Fecal samples will be collected bi-weekly to determine individual fecal egg counts. Pooled fecal samples will be collected for larvae ID and diet composition.

The bucks will be supplemented with soybean hulls.

The test bucks will be supplemented with soybean hulls throughout the test. Supplementation will begin during the adjustment period and will be gradually increased until it reaches 0.75 lbs. per day or approximately 1.5 percent of  body weight.  Last year, soy hulls were fed during the second half of the test. Supplementation seemed to improve the body condition, health, and welfare of the goats. Fecal data had shown that the goats' diet was deficient in energy. Vegetative pasture growth is very high in moisture.

The last data will be collected on October 1. Final weights will be determined by averaging the weights recorded on October 1 and 2. The ten top-performing bucks will be recognized.  As in year's past, the primary performance criteria will be growth (ADG), parasite resistance (fecal egg counts), and parasite resilience (FAMACHA© scores and anthelmintic treatments). Various other criteria may factor into the selection of the ten top-performing bucks, such as WDA, ultrasound data, teat configuration, scrotal circumference, and structural correctness.

Tentative schedule for 2015 test
June 26 - deliver bucks to test site
July 9 - data collection (d-0)
July 9-10 - starting weights determined
July 23 - data collection (d-14)
August 6 - data collection (d-28)
August 20 - data collection (d-42)
September 3 - data collection (d-56)
September 17 - data collection (d-70)
October 1 - data collection (d-84)
October 1 & 2 - final weights determined

The nomination period for the 2015 test will be April 15 through June 1. there will be a $20 nomination fee for each buck. The total fee for testing a buck will be $120. Discounted fees will be offered to Maryland residents and consignors who consign five half-sibs (bucks with same sire) or whose herds are enrolled in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP). NSIP calculates EBVs (estimated breeding values) for meat goats. The purpose of the second two discounts is to enhance the genetic evaluation of goats. A maximum of 80 goats will be accepted for the 2015 test.

2015 will be the 10th year of the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. It is conducted at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville. It is a program of University of Maryland Extension.

Please direct any questions about the 2015 test to Susan Schoenian at (301) 432-2767 x343 or

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Carcass Comparisons

If you're interested in carcass evaluation in goats, check out the carcass comparisons from the 2013 and 2014 pen vs. pasture studies. There are pictures and data from each goat.

2014 Pen-fed goats
2014 Pasture-raised goats
2013 Pen-fed goats

2013 Pasture-raised goats

Thanks to the consignors who have provided bucks for the pen vs. pasture studies (2011-2014).

Carcass from 2014 pen-fed goat

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Buck Test Survey Results

Twenty-seven people responded to the recent survey about the buck test. Thirteen (48%) consigned bucks to this year's test. Fourteen (52%) did not. Of those, five have consigned to previous tests and one consigned to this year's test, but had to withdraw. Nineteen (70%) plan to consign to the 2015 test. Eight (30%) are undecided.

The survey asked questions about proposed changes to next year's test. Two thirds (n=18) of respondents support starting the test one month later, in late June/early July. Only two were opposed. Seven were undecided. Seventy-four percent of respondents (n=18) agree with providing supplemental feed to the bucks throughout the test. Only four disagreed. Three were undecided.

There was no consensus as to what to do with the top-performing bucks after the test. Seventy-eight percent of respondents agree with the idea of selecting the 10 top-performing bucks, as opposed to labeling the top-performing bucks as Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Four disagreed. Two were undecided.

Seventy percent (n=19) of respondents agree with offering discounted fees to those who consign five bucks from the same sire (half-sibs). Almost half (n=13) support discounted fees for consignors who enroll their herds in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP), a quantitative genetic evaluation program which calculates EBVs (estimated breeding values) for goats (and sheep).

Using a sliding bar, respondents were able to indicate the relative importance of the traits measured in the test. Respondents considered growth (ADG), parasite resistance (FECs), and parasite resilience (FAMACHA©) to be the most important traits measured in the test. On a scale of 0-100, the average values for these traits were 93, 91, and 86, respectively.

Many respondents provided comments at the end of the survey. Please call or e-mail Susan if you'd like to discuss your comments or concerns about next year's test:  (301) 432-2767 x343 or