Forage systems for the sustainable production of uniform goat carcasses

2006 Annual Report for LS05-172

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $200,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Tennessee
Principal Investigator:
Richard Joost
University of Tennessee at Martin

Forage systems for the sustainable production of uniform goat carcasses


Summary of 2006 Activities

In 2006 we grazed two different sets of weaned goats on four pastures each of chicory, white clover, sericea lespedeza, Illinois bundleflower and striate lespedeza. Little difference was observed in goat gain or parasite among the pastures. Annual lespedeza was the best adapted legume for goat production. An M.S. thesis project was completed that surveyed the goat industry in the Mid-south region. The survey indicated that there is little marketing effort by producers and most goats are sold at auction, but producers are interested in improving their marketing options by locating a licensed goat slaughter facility in the region.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. To determine the characteristics of the structure of the goat production industry in the
During 2006 the planning committee along with Dr. Mehlhorn and a graduate
assistant developed a survey instrument to evaluate the status of the goat industry in the Mid-South. We planned to administer the survey instrument to identified goat producers in West Tennessee, North Mississippi, Western Kentucky, Northeast Arkansas, and Southeast Missouri to determine number of goats producedalong with the typical season of production, and characteristics of animals produced.

2. To establish the requirements of slaughter goat quantity, seasonal distribution and
carcass characteristics to support a dedicated slaughter processing facility.
An economic analysis of the logistics of goat supply and slaughter plant efficiency will be
conducted during this study.

3. To develop forage systems that provide for the rapid production of finished meat goats. we planned to conduct the second year of grazing trials with weaned goats raised during spring and summer. Animals will be weighed monthly to monitor carcass development and fecal parasite egg counts will be determined at each weighing period

4. To evaluate goat carcass development in response to forage system in order to produce
uniform goat carcasses to support dedicated slaughter/processing facilities.

Live carcass evaluations will be conducted with ultrasound on all animals on each treatment to
determine carcass development monthly during the grazing season
A group of animals from each treatment will be killed and carcasses evaluated for comparison to
ultrasound data

5. To provide goat producers with information regarding forage systems for efficient goat
production, optimal characteristics of desired goat carcasses, and marketing techniques to take advantage of available demand for goat meat.

Ultimately the success of this project will result in providing producers with methods to benefit from the development of a new agricultural enterprise. This will require the identification of goat requirements to support dedicated processing facilities and methods for attaining these requirements. Showing producers how to be more competitive and take better advantage of their available resources will be the primary focus of this educational objective.


2006 Accomplishments and Milestones

We completed two grazing cycles with two different sets of weaned goats during 2006. The goats were stocked at four animals per ½ acre pasture with animals assigned to one of six pasture species. Forage species that were evaluated included birdsfoot trefoil, annual lespedeza, sericea lespedeza, Illinois bundleflower, chicory, or a white clover control.

We have identified one cooperating producer who is going to evaluate annual lespedeza with their goat herd in 2007. We are in the process of attempting to identify two more producers to cooperate on the on-farm portion of the project.

An M.S. student completed a survey of goat producers in Tennessee and surrounding areas during summer 2006. The data has been analyzed and the thesis has been written.

An initial economic feasibility study for a USDA-inspected goat slaughter/processing facility was completed. This study evaluated transportation and handling requirements for maintaining a processing facility and marketing the resulting product.

We did not get carcass data via ultrasound or slaughter in 2006. We plan to accomplish this objective in 2007.

A major accomplishment during 2006 was the completion of the educational materials for the Extension Master Goat program. The materials consist of a 14 chapter manual supplemented by PowerPoint slides covering all aspects of meat goat production. This manual was edited by Dr. An Peischel, a cooperator on this SARE project, with chapters written by four project participants.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

2006 Impacts and Contributions

The primary conclusion from our pasture evaluations is that annual lespedeza provided the best distribution of quality forage of the six species evaluated. This did not result in a significant difference in goat gain or parasite loads. We believe this is due to the fact that there was a wide variation in parasite resistance/parasite load in the goats we obtained through auction for the study.

Our survey results indicated that most goat producers have less than ten years experience in raising goats and over 83% have no written marketing plan. This is evidenced by the fact that most goats are marketed through livestock auctions whenever producers have a group of goats ready to market. Using this approach the producers are not meeting the demand for ethnic holiday goat markets. Most of the producers surveyed declared an interest in having a USDA-inspected goat slaughter/processing facility located in their area.

The processing plant feasibility study determined that a processing plant in West Tennessee would be within a 9 hour drive, the current legislative limit for over-the-road drivers, of eight metropolitan areas of more than one million population. A processing facility in this region would need to have a 10,000 head per year processing capacity, or 1/10 of the goat production of Tennessee. To be viable it is expected that the facility will need to have the capacity to slaughter goats under kosher guidelines to allow for marketing to the growing ethnic population.

Upon completion of the Master Goat manual and program, 44 cooperative extension agents participated in a four-day in-service training program October 17-20, 2006. These agents have initiated producer Master Goat programs in their counties that highlight all aspects of meat goat production, including forage systems, health, reproductive management and handling. Each of these areas of training were developed and presented by cooperators on this project. The first producer program was conducted in Grainger Co. TN by Anthony Carver, a participant in the first agent in-service training in October.


Dolores Gresham

State Representative
Tennessee State Legislature
Nashville, TN
Office Phone: 6157416890
Walter Battle
Fayette Haywood Enterprise Community
Haywood County Extension
P.O. Box 192
Brownsville, TN 38012
Office Phone: 7317722861
Babe Howard

Indepedent Goat Producers
Millington Telephone Co.
Millington, TN
Office Phone: 9018723311
An Peischel
Extension Assistant Professor
Tennessee State University
Cooperative Extension Program
3500 John A. Merritt Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37209-1561
Office Phone: 6159635539
Janet Bailey
Assistant Professor
University of Tennessee at Martin
256 Brehm Hall
Dept. of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Martin, TN 38238
Office Phone: 7318827952
James Gresham

Somerville Livestock Sales, Inc.
Office Phone: 9014659679
Richard Freudenberg

Finberg Packing Co.
Memphis, TN
Office Phone: 9014582622
Joey Mehlhorn
Associate Professor
University of Tennessee at Martin
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources
256 Brehm Hall
Martin, TN 38238
Office Phone: 7318817257
Jerry Gresham
Professor and Chair
University of Tennessee at Martin
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources
256 Brehm Hall
Martin, TN 38238
Office Phone: 7318817262