Estimating the Sustainability and Productivity of a Meat Goat Operation on New York Pastures
Previous to 1999
Goat herd had been smaller and had included small flock of sheep. Sheep and goats had followed 2 weeks after 2 horses in a continuous rotation of pastures 1 through 5 moving to the next pasture once per week from June 1st through Oct 15th. Pastures ranged in size from 1 to 1.8 acres. Goats would then go out on brush pastures 7 & 8 from Oct 16th – Dec 15th, returning to pastures 1 – 5 for the winter where round bales would be provided in pasture 3 for them to sustain them for winter. A barn was available but goats often bedded down right in the round bales.
Pastures looked good but worm counts were extremely high even as late as December 15th. Some does would show bottle jaws in late summer and one fatality did occur in early winter one year from extremely high worm infestation (most likely Haemonchus). Brush pastures also suffered much from the goats’ eagerness to girdle the brush and trees during the fall season.
Description of pastures
1) Pastures 1 – 5: “conventional pastures”predominantly orchard grass, red clover, bedstraw, trefoil, timothy and dandelions.
2) Pastures 7 – 8: “brush pastures”predominantly golden rod, some berry brambles and multiflora rose, red-stemmed dogwood, honeysuckle, orchard grass, red clover and trefoil.
3) East Hay Field or Pasture 6: predominantly orchard and timothy, red clover, bedstraw, trefoil.
Decided to see if we could lower worm counts by avoiding having the goats repeat grazing on any one area. Had the horses follow the goats rather than rotate in front of them. This way the horses could digest the goat worm eggs and we would also avoid the short pasture heights the goats often were exposed to when following the horses which allowed the goats to graze close to their goat droppings and hence right next to the worm larva.
Management in 1999
Prior to kidding – Does were overwintered on low quality round bales of grass/legume hay harvested when pretty mature. Does were vaccinated with Clostridium CD&T on about March 1st. Does were wormed with Safeguard on March 20th prior to kidding. Does had received 1 cc of MuSe as a selenium supplement prior to breeding. Does were started on whole corn six weeks prior to kidding and on a good quality locally grown alfalfa hay 2 weeks prior to kidding. Please note , actual feed rations are given in a later section.
Kidding – Most of the herd kidded from March 28th – April 17th. There were 25 does and 43 live kids (40% of the herd were yearling first fresheners). Within 24 hours of kidding does were wormed again and kids received 1 cc BoSe each for selenium supplementation. Kids were also individually weighed. Feed ration consisted of approximately 5 lbs alfalfa hay (probably around 6 lb per older doe and 4 lb per yearling doe), 2 lbs whole corn, and ½ lb of buckwheat middlings per doe per day.
Out to pasture – herd was started on conventional pastures May 15th. Pastures were #1 through #5 and ranged from about 1.2 to 1.8 acres in size. Goats were kept in each pasture for 13 to 15 days. They were wormed as they left Pasture # 1 on May 31st and Pasture #5 on Aug 10th. Pasture #5 appeared very mature when the goats went into it and the goats repeatedly broke out of it.
Brush Pasture # 7 – goats grazed on it for 1 month, wormed again as removed from this pasture.
Brush Pasture # 8 – grazed for 3 weeks, wormed again as left this pasture. Most of the kids were weaned from does while in this pasture. Buck kids and wethers moved to Pasture #1 and remained there till sold or slaughtered (all slaughtered by Dec 15th).
East Hay Field (Pasture #6)- All does and doe kids grouped together again and moved to new sections of hay field every 7 to 10 days from Oct 2nd to Dec 7th. Each section was ~ .4 acres.
West Hay Field – Goats grazed on stubble there until Dec 17th ( ~ .5 acres every 5 days.
Horses – followed about 2 wks behind goats through Pastures 1 – 5 and 7&8. Kept on first 5 pastures for 2 week periods and brush pastures for 1 wk each. Returned back to pasture 3 –5 after that for 2 rotations of 2 weeks each. Then grazed from Nov 25th – Dec 8th on west hay field.
Winter – Goats were wormed and brought into barn area on Dec 18th.
Summary of 1999
Worm counts increased sharply as soon as goats put on pasture. They dropped after wormings but immediately increased again. Primary wormer used was Valbazen. Bottlejaws were still observed as before on a few goats. Worm counts did not stay low until goats put on East Hay Field where they were moved every 7 to 10 days. Some pastures (4&5 )were also too mature by the time the goats got to them.
Decided to subdivide pastures 1 – 5 so goats did not stay in any section of them as long as 14 to 16 days. Decided to let horses onto pastures earlier and let them go ahead of the goats on some of the pastures to try to keep the pastures from getting too mature.
Management in 2000
Prior to kidding – wormed does that would be first to kid. April 3rd wormed entire herd. Primary wormer was changed from Valbazen to Ivermectin. Herd had been kept off of Ivermectin for the last 2 years because of fears that herd might be resistant to it.
Kidding – most of the herd kidded from March 29th – April 21st. 30 does and 55 kids (~ 57% of the does were yearlings) .
Out to conventional pastures – does started on pastures April 29th and supplemented with hay first 13 days while on the first section. After that does moved to new sections every 6 to 8 days (sections ranged from .5 to .6 acres). Pastures ranged from #1 to #5 and each pasture was split into 2 to 3 sections. Pasture 5 was not too bad because it had been grazed by horses earlier in season but Pasture 4 was again too mature (it had not been grazed by horses).
Pasture 7 Brush – goats wormed and moved here on August 4th until Sept 7th. Buck kids weaned and removed Aug 16th.
Pasture 8 Brush– goats grazed for 3 weeks, wormed as removed
Pasture 6 (East Hay Field) – Oct 7th – Dec 7th . Herd moved every 5 to 7 days to a new section. Each section was .3 to .4 acres. Doe kids weaned on Oct 17th.
West Hay Field – Dec 8th – Dec 21 – Grazed on stubble (1 acre every 6 – 7 days, more snow and frost then previous year). Supplemented with partial round bale.
Winter – Dec 21st wormed and returmed to barn area.
Horses – introduced on pasture June 1st. Moved through Pastures 1 and 5 prior to goats. Followed goats through 2, 3, and 4. Repeated rotation through pasture 1 – 5 all summer until Dec 6th when moved to sections of west hay field. Lots of rain resulted in lots of grass in these pastures.
Buck kids – weaned buck kids August 16th, gave 1 lb grain (1/6th proright 40 and 5/6 corn) until Nov 15th then upped remaining kids to 1 ½ lb. All slaughtered by Dec 15th.
Summary of 2000
Worm counts were improved. No bottlejaws observed. Some pastures still got too mature. Propose bringing horses onto pastures by May 15th next year and having goats move in an accelerated pattern (new section of .6 to .8 acres every 3 to 4 days) while in Pastures 1 – 5. They will go through these pastures twice prior to moving to the brush pastures in August.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Ithaca, NY 14850