|Article Index||"Meat Goat Breeds and Breeding Plans"||Article Index|
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|MEAT GOAT BREEDS & BREEDING PLANS||
In the broadest sense, all goats are meat goats. Every goat that goes to the sale barn, regardless of breed, is eventually slaughtered for human consumption. However, certain breeds that are better suited for meat production than others. In this section, these meat-type breeds and their production characteristics will be examined.
Meat Goat Breeds
Feral Goatstock from Australia and New Zealand
The Australian Kiko meat goat has been developed over two decades of intensive selection from Australian feral goatstock and imported dairy breeds (Batten, personal communication).
Several Spanish goat producers in Texas have been intensively selecting for increased meat production for the past several years. From information obtained from these producers, these "selected" Spanish goats appear to greatly outperform the ordinary Spanish goat used primarily for pasture maintenance.
Other Breeds Several breeds are less suited for meat production than those previously listed. These include the Angora, high-producing cashmere goats and dairy breeds other than the Nubian. The Angora is a small-framed breed known for its fiber production. This fiber is called mohair and is used in many textiles. Another fiber produced by goats is cashmere. Generally, the smaller individuals of these breeds produce the finest fiber, which brings a higher price than the coarser fiber. Also, high-producing fiber goats generally have smaller litters than other goats. A largeframed animal that produces twins or triplets routinely is a desired trait for a meat producing goat. Thus, selection for meat production and for fiber production is antagonistic.
Other dairy breeds include Alpine, Saanen, Toggenburg, Oberhasli and LaMancha. The former four breeds are European in origin and are collectively known as "Swiss" breeds in the US. The Swiss breeds have been intensely selected for milk production. The LaMancha is a descendant of goats brought to the New World, specifically California, by early Spanish explorers and Catholic missionaries. Although selected for milk production, it has lower milk production than the Swiss breeds. Two major complaints from producers about using dairy breeds or the infusion of dairy blood into goats used for meat production are the problems of pendulous udders that become bruised and damaged by rocks and brush under extensive management and the problem of teats too large for successfully raising kids on pasture.
In general, goats have a high reproductive rate with conception rate not being a problem. Several studies have shown that even though twins and triplets have lower birth and weaning weights and have slower growth rates, they produce more total weight of kid weaned. Thus, prolificacy, defined as the number of kids born per doe, is an important reproductive criterion. Goats that have evolved in the temperate zones on the world tend to be seasonal breeders. Females come into estrus in the fall with anestrus occurring in late spring. This breeding pattern does not always coincide with the optimal marketing period of weaned kids. On the other hand, goats from the tropics are non-seasonal breeders and kid year-round. This desirable trait of non-seasonality should to be incorporated into a meat goat enterprise.
Of the four production traits mentioned, only carcass characteristics are not readily measurable on the farm. With good record keeping and a set of scales, the meat goat producer can collect the information needed to measurably increase the productivity of his/her meat goat enterprise.
Productivity Index = conception rate x litter size x
survivability to weaning x 365/kidding interval x
(birth weight + pre-weaning ADG x age at weaning
and the estimates in Table 1, an index score was calculated for each breed mentioned in the previous section plus an "idealized" meat goat breed. Several assumptions were made in the calculation of the index. The goat is a very fertile animal and little information on conception rate was available; therefore, conception rate was set to 90%. Survivability to weaning was assumed to be equal for all breeds at 90%. A constant age at weaning of 80 days was used in the calculations.
It should be noted that the estimates of reproductive traits and growth rates have been made in different environments and times. Therefore, the index scores should not be used as an exact measure of productivity but as a relative measure that may or may not change should the different breeds be compared in a common environment. Also, the estimate for kidding interval may not adequately reflect seasonality. Many breeds are only exposed to a buck in the fall and not at other times of the year. Thus, seasonality has not been adequately assessed for the majority of these breeds.
Productivity index scores are found in Table 1. The scores ranged from 40.9 kg for the hypothetical "idealized" meat goat to 14.2 kg for the Spanish goat. Of the actual breeds, the Boer ranked the highest (1 kg = 2.2 lb).
In general, larger does produce larger kids but larger does also have a higher dietary requirement for maintenance and reproduction than do smaller does. Therefore, another index score was calculated to account for the variation in mature body size of the does among the different breeds. The efficiency index was calculated using the following equation,
Efficiency Index = Productivity index
Mature body weight3/4
and are also recorded in Table 1. When adjusted for body weight differences, the Boer still ranked the highest of the actual breeds but the margin was considerably narrowed. The Pygmy goat due to its small size was nearly as efficient as the Boer. It bears repeating that these figures are mostly conjectural and well-designed experiments must be conducted to adequately compare these breeds.
Devendra, C. and Burns, M., 1983. Goat Production in the Tropics. Commonwealth
Hall, A., 1987. Nubian History. Hall Press, San Bernadino, CA.
Johnson, T., 1985. The Australian feral goat.
Paschal, J.C., 1990. Prospects for developing a meat goat industry in south Texas.
Shelton, M. and Willingham, T., 1992. Management of reproduction in the buck and doe under extensive conditions.
Teh, T.H. and Gipson, T.A., 1993. Establishing an industry for meat goats.
Wilson, R.T., 1992.
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