Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2012 Pen vs. Pasture Study

Consigners to the 2012 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test provided bucks for a pen vs. pasture study. The study was funded by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board.

Thirty bucks (mostly Kiko) were randomly allocated to two treatment groups:  1) pen-fed; and 2) pasture-fed.  The pen-fed goats (n=15) were kept in dry lot and fed a hay-grain diet. The pasture-fed goats (n=15) were grazed alongside the 49 goats in the 2012 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.

After a 12-day adjustment period, the goats consumed their respective diets for 84 days. On September 7, the goats were harvested by Country Foods, a custom-exempt abattoir in Waynesboro, PA. The carcasses were deboned and separated into fat, bone, and lean. A sample of the longissimus dorsi was removed from each carcass for analysis of fatty acid content.

In contrast with last year's pen vs. pasture study, the pasture-fed goats had a higher rate-of-gain than the pen-fed goats (0.183 vs. 0.149 lbs.day). However, the pen-fed goats had lower worm burdens, as evidenced by lower average fecal egg counts (563 vs. 1163 epg) and better average FAMACHA scores (1.6 vs. 1.8).

Though there were differences among individual goats, carcass data did not differ between the two groups of goats. The pen-fed goats did not get as fat as last year's pen-fed goats, having only slightly more kidney and heart fat and overall fat in their carcasses. Once again, the best (highest yielding) carcasses were produced by the two Myotonic bucks in the study.

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