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Title: Performance, Blood Parameters, and Fecal Egg Counts When Meat Goats Were Finished on Alfalfa, Red Clover, or Orchardgrass Pastures

item Turner, Kenneth - Ken
item Cassida, Kimberly
item Zajac, A - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Council Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2009
Publication Date: 6/21/2009
Citation: Turner, K.E., Cassida, K.A., Zajac, A. 2009. Performance, Blood Parameters, and Fecal Egg Counts When Meat Goats Were Finished on Alfalfa, Red Clover, or Orchardgrass Pastures. In: Proceedings and Abstracts of the American Forage and Grassland Council, June 21-23, 2009, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2009 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In the Appalachian Region of the USA, meat goat industries are growing rapidly on small farms to help produce meats for ethnic markets. This experiment was conducted to evaluate weight gain, blood parameters (measurements of nutrient use and anemia resulting from infection with the GI parasite Haemonchus contortus), and fecal egg count (FEC) patterns of meat goat kids finished on pastures of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L; ALF); red clover (Trifolium pretense L.; RCL); or orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L; OGR). Final BW (lb) were highest (P<0.001) for kids grazing ALF (63.7) and RCL (59.9); but both were greater than kids grazing OGR (54.8). Overall ADG (lb/d) for goat kids was highest (P<0.001) for ALF (0.22) which was greater than RCL (0.17) which was greater than OGR (0.11). Forage total digestible nutrients to crude protein (TDN:CP) ratio from pastures managed for high nutritive value were 3.1 (ALF), 3.7 (OGR), and 3.9 (RCL). Forage TDN:CP ratio and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) followed a similar trend. Overall, BUN (mg/dl) was higher (P < 0.001) when goats grazed ALF (24) and OGR (23.6) compared to RCL (20.7). Blood glucose (mg/dl) was greater (P < 0.001) for ALF (64.8) and RCL (65.1) compared to OGR (61.9). Blood total protein (mean 6.7) and albumin (mean 3.9) concentrations (mg/dl) were all similar (P > 0.10). Blood immunoglobulin concentrations (mg/dl) were similar: OGR (2.9), ALF (2.8), and RCL (2.8). When averaged across the grazing season, deworming every 28 d resulted in goats with blood packed cell volumes (%) ranked (P < 0.001) as follows: RCL (33.7) was greater than ALF (31.8) was greater than OGR (30.5). The majority of goats received a FAMACHA© score of 1.7. When averaged over the season, goat kids grazing ALF had the highest (P < 0.001) FEC (524 epg) compared to RCL (104 epg) and ORG (103 epg) which were similar. Meat goat kids finished on ALF, RCL, or OGR pastures produced desirable live weights for ethnic markets. More research needs to be conducted to evaluate strategic energy supplementation to improve protein-use efficiency and resilience to GI parasite infection when finishing meat goats on pastures managed for high forage nutritive value.