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Title: Performance, intake and blood parameters in young goats offered high forage diets of lespedeza or alfalfa hay

item Turner, Kenneth - Ken
item Wildeus, S
item Collins, J

Submitted to: Small Ruminant Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2004
Publication Date: 7/31/2005
Citation: Turner, K.E., Wildeus, S., Collins, J.R. 2005. Performance, intake and blood parameters in young goats offered high forage diets of lespedeza or alfalfa hay. Small Ruminant Research. 59(1):15-23.

Interpretive Summary: Efforts are underway in the US to define breeds and refine crossbreeding programs for improving growth rate of meat-type goats due to the increased demand for chevon. In a pen feeding study, we evaluated performance of three different breeds of meat-type goats offered alfalfa or lespedeza hay diets and limited corn supplement. Goats offered the lower quality lespedeza hay plus supplement consumed more hay, but gained slower than the animals offered alfalfa hay plus supplement. Condensed tannins in the lespedeza hay had both positive and negative influences on nutrient utilization and blood parameters, but breed of goat was an important factor in determining overall performance. This work is useful to livestock nutritionists trying to develop low-cost rations for improved nutrient-use by meat goats. It will benefit our economy by helping small farm producers refine goat finishing systems to be more economical for supplying chevon to a fast growing niche market.

Technical Abstract: July-born F1 Boer x Spanish (BxS), Nubian, and Spanish buck kids (n=18) were used in an experiment to evaluate the use of lespedeza (LESP) hay in goat diets. Bucklings were weaned at 60 d of age and maintained on pasture and in pens, before being assigned to the experiment at 6 mo of age. Kids were randomly assigned to 6 pens, stratified by breed, representing 3 replicates and two dietary treatments. The two diets were ad libitum: 1)sericea lespedeza [Lespedeza cuneata (Dum.-Cours) G. Don; LESP] hay, or 2) alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.; ALF) hay. All animals received a 16% CP corn/cottonseed-based supplement offered at 0.5% of BW per head/d. Total DMI was higher (P < .001) for LESP-based (40.1 g/kg BW) than for ALF-based (36.4 g/kg BW) diets, and increased with time on trial for LESP, but not ALF (diet x time interaction: P < .05). Bucks offered ALF had higher ADG (103 vs. 56 g/d; P < .01) and final BW (31.3 vs. 26.6 kg; P < .05) than those offered LESP. Bucks offered the ALF-based diet had higher (P < .001) plasma concentrations (mg/dl) of BUN (21.1 vs 10.7) and glucose (67.7 vs 59.5) and lower (P < .001) creatinine (0.52 vs 0.61 mg/dl) compared to kids offered the LESP-based diet. More research is needed to evaluate goat breed, forage species, stage of forage maturity, condensed tannins, and supplementation effects on nutrient utilization by finishing goats.