Thursday, October 28, 2010

It really was dry

The ten goat carcasses were a further reminder of how dry this year's test was.  I'd never seen such lean carcasses.  On the other hand, the carcasses looked really good and yielded the same as last year. 

The 2010 test site did not receive any meaningful rainfall during the entire test period, from June 4 until September 23.  The week after the test was over (and before the sale on October 2), the test site receive 4.77 inches of rainfall.  I got drenched to the bone the day I loaded two goats for slaughter for the field day.

Click on graph to view it larger in a new window

For the first four years of the test, rainfall averaged 15.4 inches, about 3 to 4 inches per month, though there were some dry months.  In 2010, rainfall was only 5.11 inches.  In addition, most of the downpours were short-lived and hard, doing little good for the pasture. Coupled with the record heat, this made for poor quality forage and stressful conditions for the goats.

While I don't ever want to see another year like this, this year's test showed what goats are truly capable of.  They are amazing animals. The goats that came off the test healthy and vigorous proved their worth and genetic value. It amazed me they could gain anything off this year's paltry pasture.

Similarly aged bucks that are bigger and fleshier than the bucks from this year's test aren't better. They've just been fed more.  Be sure to know the difference between environment and genetics.  What do you think these bucks would look like (and weigh) if they spent 100 days in the 2010 Western Maryland Drought-Ravaged Meat Goat Performance Test?