Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 6, 2009
Publication Date: May 19, 2009
Citation: Turner, K.E., Cassida, K.A., Belesky, D.P. 2009. New concepts in pasture management for small ruminants. part 2: the ruminant--resource management considerations for finishing small ruminants on pasture. In: Rayburn, E.B., editor. 2009 Appalachian Grazing Conference Proceedings, March 6-7, 2009, Morgantown, West Virginia. 2009 CDROM. Technical Abstract: Traditional sheep (Ovis aries), hair sheep and meat goat (Capra hircus) industries are growing rapidly in the Appalachian Region, particularly on small farms, to help produce meats for ethnic markets. The integration of soil fertility, forages, livestock, resource improvements, marketing, capital investment, and farm goals are all part of managements that must be intensified for successful, sustainable grazing for livestock production. Numerous forage types are used in small ruminant finishing systems. Soil testing should be done to replace nutrients removed from grazing. Maintaining a legume content at 25 to 35% in a grass sward can help to reduce or eliminate the need for N fertilization. In addition, producers should consider dividing a large pasture into at least four paddocks and using rotational stocking to maintain forage with high nutritive value (high protein and digestibility) for finishing weaned animals on pasture. Control of gastrointestinal (GI) parasites in goats and sheep is a major problem for producers. New concepts to reduce GI parasite loads and to slow development of parasites resistant to chemical dewormers include the FAMACHA© eye-lid score system for deworming individual animals for control of Haemonchus contortus. In addition, producers should strive to select and breed animals that have low fecal egg counts. Grazing specific forages containing natural anthelmintics can reduce GI parasites. Mixed grazing can be effective in controlling GI parasites. Another option is to finish sheep and goats to lighter body weights to satisfy ethnic or local specialty meat markets. Research at Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center has shown that goats finished on alfalfa (Medicago stativa L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) or orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) produced desirable body weights and carcasses for the Halal ethnic market. In a second trial, supplemental protein offered to grazing livestock increased resilience defined as the animal’s ability to tolerate higher GI parasite burdens and still remain productive (gain weight). Katahdin lambs and Boer x Kiko meat goat kids finished on pasture with and without whole cottonseed supplementation produced desirable live weights and carcasses for the Halal ethnic market. Heavier weight ( > 100 lbs) Suffolk lambs finished on pasture may fit better into the traditional or Kosher meat markets.