Submitted to: Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 8, 2008
Publication Date: May 12, 2008
Citation: Turner, K.E., Belesky, D.P., Cassida, K.A. 2008. Finishing lambs and kids on pasture in Appalachia. In: Allison, M.W. (ed.). Proceedings of the 62nd Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference, May 12-24, 2008, Knoxville, TN. 2008 CD-ROM. Technical Abstract: Traditional sheep, hair sheep and meat goat industries are growing rapidly in the Appalachian Region, particularly on small farms, to help produce meats for ethnic markets. Numerous forage types and qualities are used in small ruminant finishing systems. With the expansion of non-traditional lamb markets that accept smaller and leaner carcasses, there is need to evaluate traditional sheep, hair sheep, and meat goat growth and carcass characteristics when finished on pasture for the ethnic markets. This paper summarizes performance and carcass parameters from two grazing projects conducted in 2007 with lambs and meat goat kids finished on pastures in Appalachia. In grazing trial 1, seventy-two growing meat goat wethers (mean initial wt. 49.5 lbs) were randomly assigned to three pasture treatments: alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.; ALF), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.; RCL) or orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.; OGR) that were each replicated three times. Grazing was initiated on 6 June and continued until 11 Sept 2007; animals were managed with rotational stocking. Final BW were greater for ALF and RCL compared to OGR. Overall ADG was greater for ALF compared to RCL and OGR which were similar. Chilled carcass wt was ALF > RCL > OGR. Dressing percentage of RCL and OGR was similar, and both were greater than ALF. Ribeye area and backfat was higher for kids finished on ALF compared to RCL and OGR. Leg score and conformation score followed a trend of ALF > RCL > OGR; lean score was greater for ALF compared to OGR; RCL was intermediate. In grazing trial 2, 36 Suffolk crossbred lambs (SX; mean initial wt. 57.7 lb), 36 Katahdin lambs (KA; mean initial wt. 54.2 lb), and 36 Boer x Kiko meat goat kids (GX; mean initial wt. 33.1 lb) were grazed a mixed-sward pasture of OGR, RCL, and white clover. All kids and lambs were wethers of the same age (born 1-15 March 2007). Lambs and kids were weighed and assigned to six groups; each grazing group contained 6 SX, 6 KA, and 6 GX wethers. Three of the animal groups were supplemented (SUP) with whole cottonseed (WCS) at 0.5% body weight daily throughout the study whereas the other three animal groups were not offered WCS supplement (UNSUP). Grazing began on 29 June until 25 Sept 2007 and animals were managed with rotational stocking. Overall as the season progressed, final BW and ADG were greater for SUP than UNSUP animals and followed a trend of SX > KA > GX. There were no treatment effects on carcass wt., dressing %, REA, BF, or leg, lean, or conformation scores, but followed a trend of SX > KA > GX. Goats finished on ALF, RCL, and OGR in trial 1 produced desirable BW and carcasses for the Halal ethnic market. In trial 2, Katahdin lambs and meat goat kids finished on pasture with and without WCS produced desirable BW and carcasses for the Halal ethnic market. Heavier weight ( > 100 lbs) Suffolk lambs finished on pasture with and without supplementation may fit better into the traditional or Kosher meat markets.