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|Feeding Goats for Improved Milk and Meat Production||
Factors Influencing Production Improvement
2. crossbreeding with improver breeds.
Selection of native goats can be very effective, because of the inherent adaptation to the climate, especially if it is tropical, hot and humid, and the resistance to native diseases, insects and parasites. Selection requires regular record keeping of each herd animal in terms of production traits, milk, composition, meat, growth. In the USA this is done through the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) record keeping system, which provides monthly individual data on management efficiency (Table 1). If it is done on an official, non-biased basis, it provides also regular data for sire proving with a certain degree of reliability, which when published annually allows selection of buck semen and doe ova from proven individuals for superior herd selection by anyone domestically or for import by foreign interests.
Crossbreeding has the advantage of selecting presumably superior genetic producing ability, but adaptation to climate, diseases, insects and parasites is usually a big, often insurmountable or at least very expensive problem, which may only be solved by using for continued breeding crossbred offspring rather than purebred parents. In either case it is necessary to realize that improved feeding is wasted if there is no simultaneous genetic improvement of the basic producing ability, because
heritability of milk yield by goats is about 25 percent,
heritability of goat milk composition about 50%, and
heritability of goat weight gain about 40%.
Heritability values can be used to predict the expected average progress from selection, assuming that environment, management, feeds and feeding, and climate is not changed between generations. Improvement in milk yield is often the most profitable choice and the predicted progress would be per generation:
heritability X selection differential or
25% X (milk yield of selected sire - milk yield of dam).
For example, if the selection differential from the buck proof is + 400 lb and the milk yield of the doe is 1,500 lb, then the expected average genetic improvement in the performance of the offspring in the next generation would be
(25% X 400 lb) + 1,500 lb = 1,600 lb
indicating that genetic selection is important, but 75% of milk yield performance progress is due to management, environment, diseases, climate and especially feeds and feeding.
The udder is the most important part among the inherited physical capabilities of the animal in its body parts and constitution (Haenlein, 1981). For centuries, this was one of the principal goals of attention of Swiss goat breeders, to improve the udder quality and conformation, and they accomplished this without parallel, making the Swiss dairy goat breeds the milk production leaders in the world. Today type evaluation is available, called the Linear Appraisal System, which can effectively aid in the selection for and improvement of goat milk production. Other programs like type judging competitions in the field and in goat magazines, county and state shows and fairs for 4-H, FFA and adults, milk-out programs for champion competitions and star milker recognitions on pedigrees all aim towards improvement of the inherited physical capability of the milking animal.
Health is the other important factor for success in goat management. Elevated, slotted floor barns have become popular in humid and hot climates for better health of goats, especially for internal parasite control. Such barns are easily and cheaply constructed, provide cool shade and dry areas for feeding and rest, they keep udders clean and free from contaminations and infections, and they prevent reinfestation from internal parasite eggs in feces, because the goats are resting on the slotted floors away from their feces. Without such basic provisions for optimum health of goats any attempts in feeding improvement are wasted.
Feeding For Health
Fiber is a feeding requirement unique to ruminants, because:
Fiber is rarely stated in nutrient requirement tables, but from dairy cattle research it is recognized, that at least 17percent of the daily dry matter intake is needed. However, it makes a difference whether this fiber is shorter than 1 inch or longer. Effective fiber needs length to stimulate chewing and rumination. Feeds and diets, which cause significantly less chewing are potential problems leading to acidosis and enterotoxemia. When less frequent chewing is observed and before other more serious symptoms occur, a drop in milk fat content of 1 to 2 percentage units will be noted in a few days, the socalled low fat syndrome. Feeding of buffers should immediately commence, besides a reexamination of the ration formulation. Table 2 lists some feeds like sunflower and cotton seed, which are very high in fiber contents, but also have high fat and protein contents, so they are ideal for maintaining the high energy and protein supply needed for early lactation high milking goats, besides providing the extra protective fiber content to avoid low fat syndrome, acidosis and enterotoxemia (Haenlein, 1982).
Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin functioning as coenzyme in energy metabolism and is needed by high performing dairy animals, especially in early lactation when ketosis or acetonemia may be a problem. Some supplementation has been beneficial, especially when there is much corn in the ration, since corn is low in the amino acid precursor for niacin, and niacin deficiency may develop.
Thiamine deficiency may occur after heavy grain feeding or if certain feeds with antithiamine activity are ingested. Blindness can result and thiamine supplementation may be needed.
Pyridoxine is another B vitamin synthesized in the rumen and is required for biosynthesis of fatty acids, transport of amino acids and minerals. Upset rumen metabolism can lead to deficiency in pyridoxine synthesis and symptoms of anemia in the dairy goat. Not all anemia in goats is necessarily due only to internal parasites, but not much research into vitamin requirements and metabolism of goats has been done in recent years.
There are other feeding related disorders in goats, which are preventable (Naylor and Ralston, 1991). When goats are becoming fat at the end of lactation, they risk getting acetonemia, pregnancy toxemia or ketosis problems at or soon after kidding. Bearing triplets or quadruplets can aggravate the condition triggered by hypoglycemia. Prevention of undue weight gain in the dry period is often easier than treatment and correction when symptoms of dullness, depression, acetone odor in the breath, recumbency occur, which can lead to death. Gradually increasing feeding of 1 to 1.5 lb of concentrates 3 to 4 weeks prior to kidding is usually a best practice. Calcium deficiency soon after kidding in the form of milk fever or parturient paresis is not frequent in dairy goats as it is in certain breeds of cows. A reduction of calcium supplementation and replacement of alfalfa hay with grass hay during the dry period can prevent the problem.
Urinary calculi or urolithiasis in male goats are due to nutritional imbalance, especially on high grain feeding with too much phosphorus in relation to calcium and potassium, and more in confinement management than on pasture. Calcium to phosphorus ratio should be 2:1, but grass hay feeding is preferred to alfalfa. Increasing salt in the ration to 4 to 5 percent promotes higher water intake and diuresis. Acidifying the urine with 2 percent addition of ammonium chloride or potassium chloride to the ration also helps (NRC, 1981).
Selenium deficiency can be suspected in areas with deficient soils, when goats have various reproduction problems, early embryonic death, repeat estrus, retained placenta after kidding, metritis, weak newborn kids. Intramuscular injection with a selenium - vitamin E preparation one month before kidding can prevent symptoms, but addition of 0.2 ppm selenium to the ration provides a more constant protection. Selenium status in goats can be tested best in milk or blood besides hair samples.
Iron stores are minimal in newborn kids in contrast to calves. Therefore anemia can be a problem that can be treated with an iron dextran injection or with iron supplementation to the ration.
Magnesium deficiency and grass tetany can occur in early spring grazing on lush pasture, which may be high in potassium, especially cereal grain pastures. Intravenous injection with a calcium - magnesium preparation may be needed to prevent death, but prevention is best by hay feeding prior to turning out to pasture and time-limited grazing of this kind of pasture. A magnesium mineral mix feeding, e.g., 15 percent magnesium oxide in the ration, is also helpful (Naylor and Ralston, 1991).
Zinc is an element that needs to be supplied continuously, since it is not stored in the body. Blood, milk or hair samples are useless in assessing zinc status of an animal; only rib contents are good indicators. Legumes contain more than grasses, but contents decrease with increasing maturity. Zinc supplementation and treatment helps reduce and cure mastitis, stimulates male reproduction, wound healing, prevents parakeratosis and lameness from foot fissures. Recommended levels are 10-50 mg/kg dry matter daily feed intake.
Copper is needed by goats at the level usually provided in dairy cattle or horse rations, in contrast to sheep, which are sensitive to such levels and will develop toxicities. Leaves and certain browse contain more copper than stems of forages, but this will decrease with maturity. Copper deficiencies can be prevented by adding 0.5 percent copper sulfate to the mineral mixture.
Practical feeding of goats can be grouped into three types:
Effects and expectations in meat and milk production obviously differ with these types of feeding under extensive or intensive management. Proper rations must then be calculated differently, depending on the degree of nutrient supply expected from the amount of grazing provided.
Limited grazing will be a normal consequence by goats when fed supplementary grain. The strategy could be based on the amount of daily milk produced at the rate of 2.5 lb milk per l lb grain or more depending on the price of grain to the price of milk ratio. An example calculation would be, if the milk price is $12/100 lb, the grain price $200/t and the cost of feeding is 50 percent of total milk production costs:
2.5 lb milk @ $0.30 (12.-/100x2.5)
= $0.10 grain cost (200.-/2000)X 2,
= $0.30 - 0.20,
leaving $0.10 for other production expenses and profit.
A superior feeding strategy would be based on body condition scoring (Table 8). Low scoring goats (1 - 2.5) receive grain supplementation at < 2.5 lb grain :1 lb milk ratio, while the higher scoring goats (3.0 - 5.0) are fed at a feed:milk ratio of 3:1. This will correct production loss due to undernutrition and it will prevent problems of fat goats (Santucci et al., 1991). Body condition scoring has been successfully developed for dairy cattle, but applies equally well to dairy goats even in the absence of published suitable picture guides. Body condition score is the visible end result of appropriate or insufficient feeding in relation to production. Out-of-target-range scoring goats will produce less milk and a lower meat price. Reproductive efficiency is significantly reduced by out-of-target-range body condition scores. Also disease frequency is increased.
The concept of free choice feeding without rationing to individual goats has been tried successfully (Haenlein, 1978). Over a 2-year period 5 Saanen, weighing 133 - 205 lb, produced in 2 lactations from 2,033 - 4,554 lb milk with 3.0 - 3.3 percent fat. Their free choice intake of mixed hay per year ranged from 393 - 459 lb, their grain ration 1,688 - 1,692 lb per year, besides green chop grass, fodder beets and dry beet pulp. The composition of the grain ration was 21 percent crude protein and 10 percent crude fiber. Daily intake between high and low milkers varied from 1 to 8 lb grain; highest daily milk production was 17.8 lb. Production cost analysis in the 2nd year between the highest producer with 4,554 lb milk showed $293.50 for total feed costs vs. $272.19 for the lowest producer with 3,321 lb milk, or $6.44/100 lb milk for the high producer vs. $8.20/100 lb milk for the low producer.
Total mixed ration (TMR) is another approach to free choice feeding, which is very popular in dairy cattle feeding, except that with dairy cattle the major component is silage, mostly corn silage, which is generally not used nor available for goats. Grass silage is fed in Norway routinely and successfully to dairy goats. For many years I have used for my Saanen goats a total mixed ration free choice successfully, and they milked heavy--above 10 lb per day-- even bred out-of-season, kidded twice the year, never had any over-eating disease nor were they vaccinated against enterotoxemia, and had no internal parasite problems despite my not worming them.
A total mixed pelleted ration has been my TMR for years and it is commercially available as a horse "maintenance" ration, designed for horses, that are neither pregnant nor nursing nor working more than 1 day per week. Thus this ration is supposed to feed horses correctly without letting them get fat. The major composition was 12 percent protein and 26 percent fiber. The high fiber content prevented over-eating by my goats. This pelleted ration was provided to the goats in gravity-flow self-feeders and I have seen it being adopted by the Texas Goat Experiment Station at Prairie View, where turkey big round self-feeders are used for the goats. In addition to this pelleted ration I always provided mixed hay free choice and the goats usually ate less than under conventional feeding, but they preferred stems to get enough fiber. For very high milkers I would feed an extra quarter to half pound of straight soybean oilmeal or sunflower seed at milking time.
Individual feeding is the alternative to group feeding and free choice offer of feeds. It is more labor intensive, may save some wasted feed and may better feed according to body condition. It has not been demonstrated whether feeding success in production or profit from the operation is better than in group feeding. Individual feeding requires individual stalls or temporary tie-ups or feeding at milking time or computerized feed dispenser stalls. In any case it also requires detailed calculations of fitting rations according to individual requirements and prevailing feed ingredient prices.
Calculating a ration requires 7 steps (Haenlein, 1995):
There are many feeding guides now available based on the NRC or similar official foreign tables of requirements and composition (NRC, 1981; Ensminger et al., 1990; Morand-Fehr, 1991; Haenlein, 1995; Peacock, 1996). In combination with regular body condition scoring of growing and milking goats, these tables should be adjusted up or down to provide the right supply of nutrients under the circumstances with enough challenge for improved production and growth, or with enough restriction to prevent overconditioning and health risks. If all this is well accomplished then it is time to negotiate the right price for milk, yogurt, cheese and meat from the goats, to proceed with aggressive marketing and promotion to reap the rewards for all this work and to assure that this farm will continue in business for years to come.
Cornell University, personal comm.;
Data grouped by quartiles 1 - 4 about the mean.
(1) From Ensminger et al. 1990.
(1) From Ramirez et al., 1991; body weight of goats 35 kg.
(1) From Peacock, 1996.
(1) From Devendra, 1987;
MH = medium plane of nutrition before kidding and high plane during lactation;
(1) From Devendra, 1987.
(1) From Devendra, 1987.
About the author: The following references are attributed to this article:
Devendra, C., 1987. Small ruminant production systems in South and Southeast Asia. Proceed. Workshop Bogor, Indonesia, IDRC, Ottawa, Canada, Publ., 256e, 414 pp.
Ensminger, M.E., Oldfield, J.E. and Heinemann, W.W., 1990. Feeds and Nutrition, 2nd ed., Ensminger Publ. Co., Clovis, CA, 1544 pp.
Haenlein, G.F.W., 1978. Dairy goats do well on free-choice feeding. Hoard's Dairyman 123:1194.
Haenlein, G.F.W., 1981. Feeding dairy goats to maximize production. Dairy Goat J. 61(11):958.
Haenlein, G.F.W., 1982. Feeding sunflowers can prevent enterotoxemia. Feedstuffs, Aug. 2, 23.
Haenlein, G.F.W., 1992. Advances in the nutrition of macro- and micro-elements in goats. Proceedings Vth Intern. Conference on Goats, New Delhi, India, ICAR Publ., III:933.
Haenlein, G.F.W., 1995. Topics of profitable feeding and milking of dairy goats. A.S.& A.B. Dairy Ext. Bull. 110, 118 pp.
Morand-Fehr, P., 1991. Goat Nutrition. Pudoc Wageningen Publ., Netherlands, EAAP Bull. 46, 308 pp.
Naylor, J.M. and Ralston, S.L., 1991. Large Animal Clinical Nutrition. Mosby Year Book, St. Louis, 576 pp.
NRC, 1981. Nutrient Requirements of Goats: Angora, Dairy, and Meat Goats in Temperate and Tropical Countries. National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., Bull. 15, 91 pp.
Papachristou, T.G. and Nastis, A.S., 1996. Influence of deciduous broadleaved woody species in goat nutrition during the dry season in northern Greece. Small Rumin. Res. 20:15.
Peacock, C., 1996. Improving Goat Production in the Tropics. Oxfam/Farm Africa Publ., Oxford, U.K., 386 pp.
Ramirez, R.G., Loyo, A., Mora, R., Sanchez, E.M. and Chaire, A., 1991. Forage intake and nutrition of range goats in a shrubland in northeastern Mexico. J. Animal Sci. 69:879.
Santucci, P.M., Branca, A., Napoleone, M., Bouche, R., Aumont, G., Poisot, F. and Alexandre, G., 1991. Body condition scoring of goats in extensive conditions. In: Goat Nutrition, P. Morand-Fehr, ed., Pudoc Wageningen Publ., EAAP Publ. 46:240.
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