For this project, we looked at both the birth and growth rates of different breeds of goats. We then compared the taste of the different types of goat meat to see if there was a stronger or milder taste for the different meats.
The first objective of this project was to compare different breeds of goat meat to find the mildest tasting meat. I hypothesized that it would be easier to encourage customers to buy and eat goat meat if it was as mild as possible.
The second objective was to compare birth weights and growth rates in the four different crosses of goats: Angora/Nubian, Angora/Boer, Nubian and Boer.
The ultimate question that we were trying to answer was: is there enough of a taste difference in Angora-crossed goat meat to make the slower growth rate worthwhile and financially viable compared to the pure bred, larger typical meat breeds?
Surprisingly to me, there was not enough of a taste difference to warrant raising the slower growing Angora crosses.
Challenges for this project primarily were the weighing of the newborns and then the three-month olds. Three-month old kids are very active and agile, and some of the weighing was done in the snow and cold.
Results for the birth weights indicated that the Boer/Boer kids were the largest on all weigh dates. While the Angora/Angora crosses were the smallest at all weights. All of the Boer influenced kids were heavier at all weights than the non-Boer influenced goats.
The highest death rates of newborn kids during the first week of life were surprisingly the Boers. The Angora kids born in cold weather are smaller and more “fragile” than other kids. However, the problem with the Boer kids seemed to be that the does’ lacked mothering skills. I was frustrated to see certain Boer does very slow to clean the newborns, which helps stimulate them to stand up and nurse. I had a couple does just stand and look at their newborns, as well as one doe that never produced any colostrum or milk. My guess is the majority of my breeding stock of Boers were just poor mothers, not all Boers could be this poor at mothering.
Calculated gains also indicated that purebred Boer goats gained the most during the two periods while the purebred Nubians were the slowest gainers. Nothing too surprising about the Boer kids gaining the most weight-that’s what they were bred for. However, my breeding stock of Nubians does seem to grow quite slowly. The Nubian does that I have kept for dairy will take up to two years to become full-grown.
There was not a large winner in the taste for the mildest goat meat. However, the taste test did surprise me. The test showed that panelists rated the Boer/Angora as the strongest sample with the Nubian/Nubian being the mildest. I would have thought that would be the opposite. I had expected the Nubian/Nubian or the Boer/Boer to be the strongest; definitely, not the breeds with the Angora mix.
The taste test results showed that there is not much difference which breed of goat you are raising for meat. However, the data taken at birth and during the growth period definitely shows us that the Boer goats have larger birth weights and grow faster. To summarize, in raising goats for meat, the Boers and Boer crosses will get to processing weight quicker than the other breeds. In grassfed goats, the quicker the animal is ready to process, the less inputs (pasture, hay) you have to put into the goat, and the more money you can make.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Outreach for this project included teaching two new farmers classes (Building Farmers, Spring 2009 and Beginning Farmers, Fall 2010) put on by our La Plata County Extension; participating in a regional SARE conference; talking at a Southwest Marketing Network Conference in Durango; farm visits by Fort Lewis College AG 101 class; and talking to Fort Lewis College Agriculture Marketing class about diversified small farms.
Ron Daines put together a beautiful flyer and poster for the regional SARE conference in Albuquerque in 2008. I used these flyers and poster not only at Durango Farmers Market and the CSU Experiment Station in Hesperus but also at an informational booth for the 2009 Southwest Marketing Conference in Durango. I also spoke at that conference about raising goats and had lots of interest in the project.
I will send in additional data from the March 2011 kidding season. The data will include birth weights and death loss count. I hypothesize that the death loss count will be much lower than the past kidding seasons, due to the newborns being born in a closed-in, three-sided structure with straw on the ground. If the mothers are slow to clean the newborns, the warmth of the hut will give some extra time for the babies to get up and nurse before becoming hypothermic. Also, having the does locked in the huts will help with the confusion of many babies being born at the same time. The confusion the mothers can have can include trying to steal other kids, as well as ignoring their own, which can result in newborns not being cleaned or not being able to get their colostrum immediately.