Sustainable goat farming: Pasture enhancement and diet selection by goats

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2011: $14,493.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Uma Karki
Tuskegee University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats


  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - multispecies, pasture renovation, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, public participation, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Meat goat is the major small ruminant species in Alabama. However, the production system is still not very much sustainable. One of the important reasons for this is poor pasture. Most of the producers do not have a good pasture improvement and management program, so need to depend on hay or commercial feeds to sustain their goats for about five to six months from late fall to late winter or early spring. Mostly, farmers depend on the existing pasture, and hesitate to introduce new forage species, especially legumes. There are several reasons for this reluctance: 1) they are not sure which forage species, especially legumes, is readily eaten by goats, 2) which forage species would be most suitable for the soil and environmental condition of their pastureland, 3) most farmers do not have established facilities for rotational grazing system, which is required for the sustainable management of most of the multi-species pastures such as that involve different species of grass and legume, 4) cost involved for the required inputs and facility establishment, and 5) not sure whether the enhanced pasture and rotational grazing management would benefit them significantly after making all the required spending and time involvement. This research is designed to find out the winter legume species preferred by goats as well as the establishment and sustainable management of these species. The findings will be disseminated to goat producers, Extension agents, and other stakeholder. This information will be to producers to enhance their pasture, extend the grazing duration, and lower the cost of production in a sustainable manner.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Establish selected cool-season grass and legumes on the farm of participant farmers
    2) Conduct diet selection study of goats on the established cool-season forages

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.