What growth rates can you expect from young rangeland goats?

19 April 2016

A series of trials have been commissioned by MLA, with support from the Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA), to investigate the growth rates of young rangeland goats.

The following questions will be addressed within this work:

  • What growth rates can be expected from ‘growing out’ underweight rangeland goats with and without supplementation?
  • Does supplementation improve weight gain in rangeland goats?
  • What is the genetic growth potential of Australian rangeland goats?
  • How does a goat enterprise compare with other common enterprise types under rangeland conditions?
  • How does a goat production system influence rangeland condition?

Australia’s rangeland goat industry originated as a wild harvest operation and generally harvested goats over 24kg liveweight for processing. However, smaller harvested goats that have not reached a marketable weight are either released for later re-harvest or are held in smaller paddocks for some additional time before they reach a marketable weight. These small goats are also frequently sold by goat depots to producers who grow them to a marketable weight.

With recent good returns, goatmeat producers are increasing their level of management intervention in their goats. For example, some producers are improving genetics (e.g. Boer goats) while others are trying supplementary feeding to enhance the growth of undersized goats. However, little is known or documented about the growth rates of young goats, with or without supplementary feeding. This makes it hard to develop industry recommendations that can make supplementary feeding accessible to all producers and increase supply to service domestic and overseas markets.

AusVet, GrazServ and a Eulo goat depot have teamed up with producers from sites in south-west Queensland (Eulo, Cunnamulla and Dirranbandi), south-east Queensland (Warwick) and Griffith in NSW to investigate this gap in supplementary feeding knowledge. 

The trials are beginning in mid-May 2016 and will continue for one year. Each site will have four paddocks of 70-75 goats. Two paddocks of goats will receive only natural pasture and browse. Two paddocks will receive in addition supplementary feed. The supplementary feed will likely be a prepared pellet from a commercial supplier. Goats will be weighed monthly and then all goats will complete the trial together when they reach a marketable weight. The difference in growth rate between supplemented and non-supplemented goats will be measured as well as the overall growth rate.

It is hoped that information from the trial will allow goat producers to make informed and economic decisions about supplementary feeding of underweight rangeland goats.

While the trial has five sites, it is possible an additional site will be required. If you are interested in participating in the trial we would be very pleased to hear from you. Please contact Brendan Cowled at brendan@ausvet.com.au or 0420 851 350.

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