Grazing Forages High in Condensed Tannins and its Effect on Fecal Egg Counts in Meat Goats
The objective of this project is to find a way for meat goat producers to reduce or eliminate their dependence on anthelmintics through holistic and sustainable management of forages.
This project involves collecting fecal samples testing for parasitic egg counts from goats that are grazing on different forages. In 2006, I established the forages that are being used in the research project. Lespedeza was planted in several paddocks mixed with a variety of warm season grasses. Birdsfoot trefoil was also planted but was hit by a freeze in April of 2007, which killed most of the stand.
As a result, I needed to modify the project slightly, evaluating a typical cool season fescue pasture as a control and comparing that with lespedeza in one trial and warm season grasses in another paddock. I purchased the portable shelters needed to keep the goats in the field in which they are grazing.
The goats were divided into three groups of ten goats each and put out to the research paddocks starting June 20th 2007. We have been conducting weekly FAMACHA© tests. We will be taking fecal samples once per month.
[Editor’s note: “This system — FAMACHA© — identifies anemic animals on a 1 to 5 scale by examining the eyelids of sheep and goats. The system treats only animals that are anemic (a sign of parasitism).” This FAMACHA© definition is from the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) publication: “Managing Internal Parasites in Sheep and Goats.” For a copy or more information, visit the ATTRA website at: http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/parasitesheep.html or call ATTRA at: 1-800-346-9140.]
So far the FAMACHA© evaluations have not been showing any significant difference between the paddocks containing forages with condensed tannin and those without condensed tannin. We will be collecting the first fecal samples for testing this week [week of July 16, 2007]. We will see if the test results show any difference at this stage of the project. It is still early in the evaluation process.
This project will end in December 2007. We will complete the weekly FAMACHA© evaluations and the monthly fecal sampling and tested for fecal egg counts. The results will be tabulated.
In the fall of 2006, I gave a farm tour to approximately 10 USDA NRCS state office personnel. In June of 2007, I gave a presentation to about 120 professional goat producers at a meat goat symposium. [Editor’s note: If the results of the project show a benefit of the forages containing condensed tannins, I intend to have a field day out at the farm presenting the results.