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