Monday, June 3, 2013

81 Bucks Start 2013 Test

Over a period of four days (May 28-31), eighty-one bucks were delivered to the Western Maryland Research & Education Center to participate in the 2013 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.

Twenty-two consigners from eleven states (AL, DE, KS, IL, IN, KY, MD, NC, NJ, PA, and VA) brought bucks to the test. Originally, 106 bucks had been nominated. Consignments were reduced to 85 to make sure the carrying capacity of the pasture was not exceeded, as 15 additional bucks will graze alongside the test bucks, as part of the pen vs. pasture study. Some last minute withdrawals from the test enabled some consigners to bring additional bucks.

Bucks in the laneway

Test protocol

Upon arrival, the bucks stood in a foot bath containing a 10% solution of zinc sulfate. The purpose of footbathing is to prevent hoof problems, such as foot rot or foot scald. After weighing, the goats were ear tagged. A test tag was inserted in the opposite ear of the scrapie tag and replaced any other existing tag.

FAMACHA, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency scores were determined for each buck.  A fecal sample was collected from each buck's rectum. Fecal samples will be used to determine individual fecal (or worm) egg counts (EPG). Fecal egg counts estimate the worm load that a goat carries and are a measure of parasite resistance.

A pooled sample was collected from random goats from each consignment. The pooled sample will be used for larvae ID. Worm eggs much be hatched in order to differentiate types of strongyle-type worms, e.g. Haemonchus, Trichostrongylus, and Teladorsagia.

Competing for browse.

The bucks were administered a dewormer from each anthelmintic (chemical) class. They were dosed with moxidectin (Cydectin) at 2x the sheep dose; albendazole (Valbazen) at 2x the sheep dose; and levamisole (Prohibit) at 1.5 times the sheep dose.

All anthelmintics were administered orally using a single dose drenching syringe. An accurate dose was drawn for each drug for each goat. The purpose of the triple deworming is to reduce fecal egg counts to (near) zero. Last year, the triple dosing reduced egg counts by 97 percent.

Each buck was vaccinated for soremouth under its tail head and received a subcutaneous injection of a long-acting antibiotic. The purpose of the antibiotic injection is to help prevent respiratory disease and other stress-related problems. The soremouth vaccine ensures that no goat is at a disadvantage.

Woodland grazing

Initial data

The eighty-one bucks ranged in weight from 27 to 71 pounds. They averaged 43.4 + 9.4 lbs. (19.8 + 4.3 kg). The median weight was 41.8 lbs. The bucks are a few pounds heavier than the bucks in last year's test, which averaged 40.0 + 8.34 lbs. Starting weights will be determined on June 13th and 14th, after a 13-day adjustment period.

FAMACHA scores ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 1.8 + 0.7. The median was 2. FAMACHA scores are an estimate of packed cell volume, which is a measure of anemia, the primary symptom of barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) infection. Body condition scores ranged from 2.0 to 3.5 and averaged 2.4 + 0.3. The median was 2.5.  Coat condition scores ranged from 2 to 3 and averaged 2.1 + 0.2. The median was 2.0. Body condition and coat condition scores are indicative of a goat's overall health.

Plentiful forage

No goat had a positive dag score. Fecal consistency scores ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 3.9 + 0.5. The median was 4 (dry, firm). Only a few goats had soft or runny stools (1,2). Dag and fecal consistency scores are both measures of scours, a symptom of various GI parasites. Scours can also be caused by stress and diet change. For the first several days, the bucks will be treated for coccidiosis (with a sulfa drug) in their water.

Download May 31 (d (-13)) report