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Agricultural News

Kerr Center Reports On Meat Goat Tests

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 13:56:47 CST

Kerr Center Reports On Meat Goat Tests Raising meat goats on pasture can cut feed costs and boost profits, but weather and parasites complicate that picture.

New reports from the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture near Poteau offer valuable tips for producers.

Five years ago, Kerr Center and OSU researchers teamed up with commercial meat goat producers to test goat bucks' pasture performance. Run every year since then, the test has earned national recognition as a tool for improving meat goat genetics for pasture.

Detailed results from the 2011 buck test (as well as earlier years) are now available free online from the Kerr Center website, by clicking here.   A companion report also details lessons learned from the five years as a whole, including both management practices and statistical findings.

Goats only perform at their peak on pasture if managed appropriately. With Oklahoma weather throwing everything from drought to hurricanes at the animals, fine-tuning the test's management practices has been trickier than it might sound. Over time, though, the Kerr-OSU buck test has developed a working, winning system.

Some tips are plain, but essential: keep ample shelter and water available at all times.    Others are less obvious: change pastures just before parasites are due to hatch. End the test before breeding season, so that the bucks stay focused on feeding rather than fighting.Though designed to sift the best bucks from the bunch, the test has also gathered data on how factors like weather and parasites affect the animals' performance. The five-year summary report details those findings as well.

Auburn University research has used buck test data to show that FAMACHA scoring, a low-cost technique for assessing goats' external signs of parasite infestation, helps to identify faster-growing bucks.

The Kerr Center has also analyzed the effects of weather on the bucks' performance, finding that the bucks gain best during warm, dry summers, when conditions for parasites are poor.Meat goat producers interested in the 2012 buck test can sign up at the Kerr Center website by clicking here through June 15.        



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