Report for FS04-182
The Appalachian region of Kentucky supports an under utilized livestock forage base as a result of decades of surface mining. The economies of many communities in this area have been devastated by the loss of burley tobacco income. Meat goat production could help supplement this loss of tobacco income. Kentucky’s number one goat health problem is internal parasites. Widespread herd infections together with drug resistance may eliminate goat production in Kentucky if integrated methods of pasture management are not incorporated into the present deworming protocol. Southwestern U.S. environments mimic the natural habitat of the goat. Such climates are characterized by low annual rainfall, sparse vegetation, and scrub-tree browse conditions. Kentucky’s humid environment insures the productivity of grasses, forbs and browse plants but at the same time increase the threat of internal parasite development throughout the season. The incidence of gastro-intestinal parasites and development of parasite resistance to almost all anthelmintics is an obstacle to overall in the sustainability of meat goat production. Preliminary research suggests that a combination of rotational grazing and forage species selection could reduce dependence on commercial de-wormer products reducing cost and death loss to producers. Sericea Lespedeza is a warm-season legume that is commonly used in surface mine reclamation due to the ease of establishment on disturbed, low fertility, drought prone soils. There is evidence to suggest that the combination of a higher grazing height and tannin (alkaloid) content of sericea lespedeza will reduce internal parasite numbers in goats. Rotational grazing allowing for a 30 day pasture recovery period could also reduce exposure to internal parasites. Two meat goat producers in Knox County, Kentucky will be selected to measure the affect of rotationally grazing sericea lespedeza on internal parasites. Maps of each farm will be developed using GIS/GPS technologies. Pasture fields will be subdivided into 2.0 acre grazing units using temporary fencing. On each farm, goats will be divided into two groups. One group will graze a sericea lespedeza dominate forage and the other group will graze a cool-season grass/legume mixed forage. Goats will rotate to a new grazing unit every 14-30 days. Individual nanny and kid weights will be recorded every 30 days, body condition scores (BCS) and fecal samples collected to monitor internal parasite egg populations.