Comparison of on-farm winter feeding strategies for sustainable meat goat production
Summary of 2014 Activities:
We were finally able to start our on-farm feeding trial with two cooperative farmers. We had to find a substitute farmer since of the cooperators was unable to continue with the project. This delayed on-farm project by one year. Both farmers have more than thirty goats each. The three treatments consisted of feeding: hay plus high-protein (12% CP supplement), hay plus soybean hulls pellets, and hay plus limit grazing of cool-season annual grasses and legumes. Hay was provided free-choice while supplements were fed at 1% of the body weight. The supplements (soyhulls and high-protein supplements) were provided for each producer. Similarly, hay was provided to each producer from the same source to minimize variability. Ten animals were randomly assigned to each treatment and the whole herd productivity of each group was measured. The variables measured included body weight change, body condition score change, FAMACHA scores, PCV (packed cell volume) death loss if any, costs of feeding to each group, pasture growth, fecal egg counts, and forage biomass production. We have data from one farmer for 2014 but we were unable to compare with other producer. The winter annula planted included ryegrass and a combination of grass-legume mixture (ryegrass-crimson clover). Animals were released when pasture heights wee at least 4 to 5 inches tall. Goats had access to pasture for seven hours a day for 3 days a week. A high copper goat mineral was provided on a free-choice basis for goats. Each farmer is keeping records for all variables measured including variable costs. We will compare data between two producers and combine them for the final report.
The purpose of this project is 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.
2014 Accomplishments and Milestones
The new cooperating partner planted his winter forages on time as recommended by the project team. Unfortunately, the severe cold weather we experienced in the winter damaged the forages. We were able to salvage 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. We have divided his 30 goats into three experiment groups; soy hulls group, 12% protein supplement group and limited-grazing group. 10 goats are allocated to each group. The feed cots, hay and other cots are being recorded. These participants were very much impressed with the cool-season pastures and the benefits the cooperator producers were getting from pasture development.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
2014 Impacts and Contributions
We plan to organize a one-day field workshop for goat producers in one of the producer’s farm later this year. The venue will be Gerald Goodwin farm in Opelika, Alabama. The impacts and contributions will be submitted in the final report.
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