The Guam Goat Breeders Association identified three problems with goat management that this SARE grant is designed to address: 1) genetic upgrading of broodstock, 2) development of pasture grasses and 3) treatment and control of internal parasites.
Importing bucks to Guam is expensive. As a result, many herds have suffered from inbreeding, which has reduced reproductive potential. Goats on Guam have long grazed on unimproved pastures, causing poor production. And, internal parasites are a serious problem retarding growth and causing death. The research project has been set up to test three management practices that can improve goatherd management on Guam.
· To improve reproductive performance, producers will select goats for artificial insemination then watch for signs of heat so the breeding technician can be called to process semen and inseminate the goats.
· Goat ranchers will plant two legumes for forage that are nutritional and easy to grow. They will develop and maintain the grasses until they’re ready for feeding. The forage will then be analyzed and compared with undeveloped pastures to assess nutrient differences.
· Goats on cooperator farms will be checked for parasites. Those affected will be treated immediately with subsequent dewormer frequency at two intervals – one group will be treated every three months, the other every two months.
It is anticipated that the improved pasture will increase the growth rate and market size of the goats. Further, goat loss to parasites will decline. Combined, the practices could increase gross income for goat ranchers by $200 to $300 per doe each year. Further, planting legumes as forage could reduce feed expenses by 20% and the goat ranchers will no longer have to cut and carry their grasses.
As a result of the project, goat ranchers have become more aware how important it is to treat their animals for parasites. They’ve learned how to purchase the right dewormer and regularly administer it to affected goats.
They’ve also learned that planting and feeding legumes can provide supplementary nutrients for the goats.
However, more work remains to be done to help ranchers learn how to detect heat in does. An issue that arose during the study is whether the occurrence of heat on Guam is seasonal or occurs year round, an area it was agreed would be ripe for future study.
The findings of this research, if adopted by goat ranchers on Guam, could improve the growth rate and market size of goats and reduce the incidence of parasitism, ultimately increasing gross income by $200 to $300 per doe.
FARMER ADOPTION AND DIRECT IMPACT
The livestock producers have fully embraced the concept of the SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant, which has allowed them to study simple, basic problems on the farms and see the solutions to those problems through the farmers’ eyes.
FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS OR NEW HYPOTHESES
It is recommended that not only should further research probe the question of whether does come into heat seasonally or year round on Guam, but focus more on artificial insemination. More emphasis should be placed on heat detection in does and the use of hormones for heat synchronization.
DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
The findings from this SARE-funded project will be included in an updated publication, Goat Management Booklet for Guam and Micronesia.
Several cooperating goat ranchers lent their time, ranches and experience to the project.