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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING THE EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY OF DIVERSIFIED FORAGE-BASED LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS

Location: Forage and Livestock Production Unit

Title: Meat goat kids finished on alfalfa, red clover, or orchardgrass pastures: Carcass merit and meat quality

Authors
item Turner, Kenneth
item Cassida, Kimberly -
item Zerby, Henry -

Submitted to: Meat Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 25, 2014
Publication Date: August 2, 2014
Citation: Turner, K.E., Cassida, K.A., Zerby, H.N. 2014. Meat goat kids finished on alfalfa, red clover, or orchardgrass pastures: Carcass merit and meat quality. Meat Science. 98(2014)629-636.

Interpretive Summary: With an increasing diverse ethnic population in the USA, chevon (goat meat) is a preferred meat. There is also an increasing demand for low-fat, red meats across the broad spectrum of the USA population. Chevon is typically leaner and lower in fat compared to lamb and beef. In the Appalachian region, there is interest among producers in finishing meat goats on pasture on small-scale farms to help supply meat for the niche markets. We finished meat goat kids on intensively-managed pastures of alfalfa, red clover, or orchardgrass and compared carcass and meat quality parameters. Animal finished on alfalfa and red clover pastures had heavier final live and carcass weights than animal finished on orchardgrass. Ribeye areas were also larger from goats on alfalafa and red clover, but were not different when converted to a carcass weight basis. Backfat thickness and overall carcass conformation scores were higher from animals finished on alfalfa and red clover compared to those finished on orchardgrass. Meat samples did not differ in protein or intramuscular fat content. Desirable fatty acids in meats ranged between 71-73.5% in the present study. Overall, meat goat kids finished on alfalfa, red clover, or orchardgrass pastures produced desirable live weights (< 31.8 kg) for most niche markets in the USA. Desirable fatty acids in chevon fit the guidelines for improving nutrition in human diets and health. This information is useful to livestock producers in the USA developing feeding and grazing programs for producing animals of targeted live weights for ethnic markets. Information is also useful to dieticians developing dietary guidelines and low-fat meat meals for improved human health.

Technical Abstract: This experiment was conducted in 2005-2007 to evaluate carcass and meat quality parameters when meat goat kids were finished on alfalfa (Medicago sativa L; ALF); red clover (Trifolium pretense L.; RCG); or orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L; OGR) pastures. Final shrunk body weights were similar when meat-goat kids were finished on ALF and RCG (mean 27.4 kg), but both were greater (P < 0.001) than kids grazing OGR (24.6 kg). Carcass conformation score was greater (P = 0.08) when meat goat kids were finished on ALF (11.0) compared to ORG (10.5) with RCG intermediate (10.8). There was a Year × Pasture Treatment interaction for cold carcass weight (P < 0.05), dressing % (P < 0.001), ribeye area (P < 0.001), backfat thickness (P < 0.05), body wall thickness (P < 0.001), leg score (P < 0.05) and lean score (P < 0.01). Chevon meat samples did not differ (P > 0.10) in ash, intramuscular fat, or crude protein content. Goats finished on OGR had higher (P < 0.001) 18:1 trans-11 fatty acid (FA) compared to those grazing ALF or RCG; ALF and RCG were similar. Goats finished on ALF had higher (P = 0.09) 20:5 FA compared those finished on RCG; OGR was intermediate. Chevon samples from goats finished on OGR and RCG had similar desirable FA; both were greater (P < 0.02) than ALF. Overall, meat goat kids finished on alfalfa, red clover, or orchardgrass produced desirable live weights (< 31.8 kg) for most niche markets. Desirable fatty acid levels in chevon offer an option to help improve nutrition in human diets and health.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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