Sunday, September 8, 2013

End of Test

The 2013 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test ended on Friday, September 6, when the goats were weighed for a final time. The weights recorded on September 5 and 6 were averaged to determine the final weight of bucks in the test.

Final scores (FAMACHA©, body condition, coat condition, dag, and fecal consistency) were recorded on September 5. The last individual fecal sample was collected on September 5.

On September 5, the goats were also evaluated for structural correctness and reproductive soundness. Two new evaluations were done this year. Each goat was assessed for frame size and USDA grade.

For the final 15 days of the test, the bucks lost an average of 1.1 lbs. The standard deviation was 2.4 lbs. The median loss was -0.9 lbs. Weight loss/gain ranged from -7.0 to 3.3 lbs. For the final weigh period, the top-gaining buck was #370 (Tirella, MD). It gained 0.22 lbs. per day.

Weber had top-gaining buck

For the 84-day duration of the test, average daily gain (ADG) ranged from -0.032 to 0.236 lbs. per day and averaged 0.072 + 0.054 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.063 lbs. per day. The top gaining buck in this year's test was #375 (Weber, IL). In fact, all four of the bucks in the Weber consignment were top-gainers. Weber is a first-time consignor from Illinois.

Other top-gaining bucks were #388, (Burke, DE), #312 (Barnes, KY), and #306 (Adams, IL). The Burke and Barnes bucks both gained 0.19 lbs per day, while the Adams buck gained 0.18 lbs. per day. Four out of five goats consigned by David Adams (IL) were top-gainers.

Due to the continued risk of barber pole worm infection, the FAMACHA© scores of the goats were checked an additional time, on August 30. Twenty-two goats, mostly with FAMACHA© scores of 3, were dewormed with either levamisole or moxidectin.

Copper oxide wire particles
Copper boluses
On September 5, FAMACHA© scores ranged from 1 to 5 and averaged 2.3 + 0.7. The average FAMACHA© score was  unchanged from two weeks ago. Only one goat required deworming. However, all of the goats were given a 0.5 g bolus of copper oxide wire particles (COWP). Research has shown that COWP can effectively control barber pole worm infections in the face of anthelmintic resistance.

The average body condition score declined slightly from two weeks ago, from 2.2 to 2.0.  Twelve goats were given a body condition score of 1.5. Goats with body condition scores of 1.5 are very thin. Their bones are easily felt and their health is threatened by their condition.

Twenty-two bucks are being considered for the sale in Virginia. They were put into a pen for feeding. The feeding consists of free choice bromegrass hay. The bucks will also be started on some grain. They are being offered a pelleted meat goat feed manufactured by ADM (Goat Power).

A challenging year
On the surface, the performance of this year's bucks may seem disappointing.  But it shouldn't. This year's bucks faced a significant parasite challenge and weather conditions that limited their opportunity to grow.

With the exception of a few weeks of grazing sorghum grass, the bucks were constantly ingesting infective worm larvae. It rained throughout the test. The wet weather caused scours in many goats and probably resulted in some low level respiratory infections. It most certainly limited dry matter intake (DMI).

#388 (Burke, DE) was a top-performer throughout the test.

Regardless of their data, the goats that finished the test thrifty have proven their genetic worth. The goats with the best data have truly proven their worthiness as potential breeders. In fact, this is the best year to buy a buck from the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. Any goat can thrive in good conditions, it's what they do in adverse conditions that really matters.

As for what the bucks look like coming off test, it's a reflection of their environment not their genetics. In fact, the goats in this year's pen vs. pasture study clearly demonstrated the effect of different production environments and feeding programs.

In a central buck test, all you can do is compare the performance of the bucks in the test. It is unfair to compare the performance of this year's test bucks with the performance of bucks in other tests and in other test years. It makes no sense to compare the performance of bucks in a central performance test with the performance (or appearance) of bucks on a farm. It is important to understand the difference between genetics and environment.

Download September 6 (d-84) report