Submitted to: Appalachian Grazing Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 4, 2011
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Citation: Turner, K.E., Cassida, K.A. 2011. Research update: finishing lambs and meat goat kids on pasture. In: Rayburn, E.B., editor. 2011 Appalachian Grazing Conference Proceedings, March 6-7, 2011, Morgantown, West Virginia. 2011 CDROM. CDROM. Technical Abstract: Traditional sheep (Ovis aries), hair sheep and meat goat (Capra hircus) industries are growing rapidly in the Appalachian Region to help produce meats for ethnic markets. This niche market offers an economic opportunity for owners of small farms. 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© eyelid score system for deworming individual animals for control of the barberpole worm (Haemonchus contortus). In addition, grazing forages containing condensed tannins (i.e. birdsfoot trefoil; Lotus corniculatus L.); sesquiterpene lactones (i.e. chicory; Cichorium intybus L.); or polyphenol oxidase (i.e. red clover; Trifolium pratense L.) may reduce GI parasites loads or increase rumen-escape protein for immune system support. Also, managing pastures with rotational stocking of livestock to maintain high forage energy and protein levels, and removing animals from pastures at peak parasite load levels may help to minimize effects of GI parasitism, especially Haemonchus. Research at USDA, ARS, Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, Beaver, WV has shown that goats finished on red clover, alfalfa (Medicago stativa L.), or orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) produced desirable body weights and carcasses for most ethnic markets. In a second trial, supplemental whole cottonseed offered to grazing livestock increased resilience defined as the animal’s ability to tolerate higher GI parasite burdens and still remain productive (gain weight). The number of times a commercial dewormer was administered to sheep and goats was reduced 33% when using FAMACHA© compared to a theoretical once-a-month deworming program. Use of the 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 ethnic markets. Heavier weight ( > 90 lbs) Suffolk lambs finished on pasture may fit better into the traditional or Kosher meat markets. In a third study, grazing red clover, and to some extent birdsfoot trefoil, appeared to have a beneficial effect on resilience (high weight gain, high blood total protein, low fecal egg count) by meat goat kids to internal parasite infection in comparison to grazing chicory. Meat goat kids finished on red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, or chicory pastures produced desirable live weights (60-70 lbs) for ethnic markets.