Comparison of on-farm winter feeding strategies for sustainable meat goat production
We had identified two cooperating producers to cooperate on the current project. One of the producers was unable to continue due to having difficulty in procuring additional goats and planting winter forages. He eventually agreed to forfeit the project. We are looking for his replacement to participate in the coming year. The current cooperating partner planted his winter forages on time as recommended by the project team. Unfortunately, the severe cold weather damaged his forages due to winter-kill. We were able to save some forges by top-dressing with nitrogen fertilizers. The forages are slowly coming back but the plant vigor is missing. We have started the trial in this farm. The three treatments consisted of feeding: hay plus protein (12% CP supplement), hay plus soybean hulls pellets, and hay plus limit grazing of cool-season annual grasses and legumes. Hay is provided free-choice while supplements are being fed at 1% of the body weight. We supplied supplements (soyhulls and protein supplements) and hay from the same source to minimize variability. Ten animals are randomly assigned to each treatment and the whole herd productivity of each group are being measured. The variables measured included body weight change, body condition score change, FAMACHA scores, death loss if any, costs of feeding to each group, pasture growth, fecal egg counts, and forage biomass production. Soil tests were conducted prior to planting to determine fertilizer needs. Animals started grazing when pasture height was 6 inches tall. All input costs are recorded. The production data is attached. We will record two more data on monthly intervals for this year.
The purpose of this project was to compare production and economic performance of different winter feeding strategies by Alabama mentor goat producers. The specific objectives are to:
- Compare three different supplementary feeding strategies for overwintering goats by way of measuring animal response variables.
- Conduct economic evaluations of the different feeding strategies to assess their profitability and sustainability.
- Disseminate results to meat goat producers and other stakeholders through on-farm field days, fact sheets, and to wider audiences through appropriate publications.
We have collected first production data. We also conducted a field-day at the farm. Eleven local goat producers and other types of ruminant livestock producers participated in the field day and toured his farm. The agenda of the field day and some pictures from the field day are attached
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The field day and field visit resulted in increased knowledge gained by 11 goat producers about winter grazing management and supplementary feeding.
Master Agent, Research and Extension
Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program
Dallas County Extension Office
429 Lauderdale Street
Selma, AL 36701
Office Phone: 3344211579
413 County Road
Selma, AL 36703
Office Phone: 3348726196
422 Pecan Road
Plantersville, Dallas County, AL 36758
Office Phone: 3343665155