Meat Goat Production from Traditional and Non-Traditional Forage Species Mixtures
An indoor and outdoor study, which included the same three spatial scales, were performed to determine the forage species preferred by goats. The indoor and outdoor studies consisted of four and nine forage species, respectively. Traditional species used in both studies included orchardgrass and red clover. Non-traditional species used in both studies included chicory and birdsfoot trefoil. Results showed goats preferred chicory, red clover, and orchardgrass, and on average the medium spatial scale was preferred. Throughout, forage preferences and spatial scale effects varied between herds and slightly between animals, but goats preferred to choose from a variety of forages.
Participate in production workshops/field days
Meetings with current tobacco producers (to diversify family farm income)
Complete proposed research to determine the potential for meat goat production from Ohio pasture
Contribute to a Factsheet to be released by OSU extension
Present at the American Forage and Grassland Council’s annual conference
Participate in extension meetings with OSU and producers
Inform producers of the markets through workshops and extension bulletins
Interview/survey consumers in the ethnic communities
I have participated in six seminars/workshops/field days on meat goat production. At three of these, I reported on my research. I have also been involved in the planning of many other seminars, workshops, and field days through my involvement with the Ohio Meat Goat Task Force. Currently, I am on the committee planning a “Forages for Goats” workshop to be presented in multiple Ohio counties throughout 2004.
There was difficulty in gaining funds through the Ohio Tobacco Settlement, and therefore the producer focus of the Meat Goat Task Force changed. Now, not only are the tobacco producers targeted, but also cattlemen and others looking to start or grow their meat goat operation. Many of these people have participated in the production workshops, and some producers have even joined the Meat Goat Task Force.
Two studies were completed over two years (2002 and 2003). Firstly, an indoor study was performed in Ashland, OH at the Harold Swain family farm in 2002 and in Apple Creek, OH at the farm of Bob Kapper and family in 2003. Six goats per replication were used both years, and nine and eight replications were completed in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The indoor study compared four forages: chicory, birdsfoot trefoil, orchardgrass, and red clover arranged in three spatial scales: small scale = traditional mixture; medium scale = “buffet” mixture; and large scale = monocultures. Secondly, a field study extended the findings of the indoor study to determine goat preference to more species over a longer period of time. The field study was established in Ashland, OH at the Harold Swain family farm in May 2002. The field study included the four forage species used in the indoor study, as well as five additional forages: plantain, alfalfa, white clover, ryegrass, and crabgrass. The field study also tested the same three spatial scales as did the indoor study. In 2002, each small and large scale paddock was the same area with three goats per paddock. The medium scale paddock was larger and had six goats per paddock. The dry weather limited us to only completing two replications in 2002. In 2003, paddocks were stocked at approximately 16 kg dry matter per goat; the paddock area was varied according to the plot yield. Temporary fences were made from electric fence netting. Each small and large scale paddock had two goats per paddock, while the medium scale had four goats per paddock. Seven replications were completed in 2003. Goats were provided by two local producers.
The first objective of this study was to determine some of the preferred forage species for goats in Ohio, including forage species that the animals may have not previously experienced (non-traditional forage species). Of the species used, the goats’ preference was for chicory (non-traditional) and red clover (traditional). Chicory intake and percent disappearance were the greatest of the species tested in both studies for both years. Red clover was also highly preferred in the indoor studies and the 2002 field study. Orchardgrass also had good intake in the indoor studies, while ryegrass was highly preferred in the 2003 field study. I believe these were readily consumed because they are common grass species found in Northeastern Ohio pastures. Combining the preferred forage species with the familiar forage species would allow goats the best opportunity for increased dry matter (DM) intake and for the highest utilization of the pasture. I conclude that pastures for goats containing these forage grasses (orchardgrass and ryegrass), chicory and certain legumes (red clover and alfalfa) will have high intake and production.
The financial analysis to determine the potential for meat goat production from these forages will be completed in 2004.
I have not yet contributed to an OSU Factsheet, but I did contribute an article in the second issue (May 2003) of the “Buckeye Meat Goat Newsletter” titled “A Salad Bar for Goats.” The Meat Goat Task Force mails newsletters to interested persons, and posts it on the web. (http://south.osu.edu/cle/pdfs/5_03goat.pdf)
I presented a paper and gave an oral presentation at the 2003 American Forage and Grassland Council’s annual meeting in Lafayette, LA (26-30 April 2003). The paper and presentation were titled “Forage Species and Spatial Effects on the Dietary Intake of Goats.” I also plan on presenting again this year (12-16 June 2004).
The Ohio Meat Goat Task force is associated with The Ohio State University Extension and is comprised of OSU extension agents, specialists, and faculty, as well as meat goat producers, the Ohio Cooperative Development Center, Somalia and East Africa Development and Economic Coordinators, and Heifer-International. The task force meets once a month and I am regularly in attendance in person or through phone conferencing.
This is one of the main goals of the Ohio Meat Goat Task Force. Not only are county extension programs held, but the “Buckeye Meat Goat Newsletter” also addresses the market opportunities available.
With the leadership of the Ohio Cooperative Development Center and contacts through the Somalia and East Africa Development and Economic Coordinators, as well as others, the Meat Goat Task Force has surveyed ethnic groups throughout the state, but primarily in central Ohio. Some preliminary results were presented at the Professional Meat Goat Seminar (October 2002), but surveying continues and final results have not yet been released.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Results from the project were presented at BioHio. “BioHio 2003; Agriculture: Feeding the Future of Ohio” was a three-day educational event open to the public, and was held at the Ohio Agricultural and Research Development Center (OARDC), the Secrest Arboretum and Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) campuses in Wooster, Ohio. There were an estimated 10,000 visitors that included people from Central and Northeastern Ohio’s rural and urban communities. I displayed two posters (2002 American Society of Agronomy poster and a poster made especially for BioHio), photographs from my project, tubs of the four forage species used in the indoor study, and a pen with two Boer kids. I had four handouts available for visitors to take home; 1) a copy of my poster presented at the American Society of Agronomy annual meeting in 2002, 2) a copy of my paper published in the American Forage and Grassland Council’s 2003 proceedings, 3) a copy of the first issue of the “Buckeye Meat Goat Newsletter” and 4) a copy of the Extension Factsheet titled “Meat Goat Production and Budgeting.” Over 75 copies of each handout were taken over the three-day period.
Results from the project, the BioHio poster, and handouts (same as above) were presented at the Ashland County Fall Farm Tour, sponsored by the Ashland County Farm Bureau (September 2003). There were an estimated 200 visitors that included people from local rural and urban communities. Thirty-five copies of each of handout were taken during the two-day tour.
My project has also impacted the producers that I worked with directly. Of the three producers, two are currently raising meat goats. The third sold his milking goats and converted to milking Jerseys. Even with the multiple animal species, all three producers are looking to improve their pastures and would like to plant species that their animals would prefer the best.
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