Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pen Goats Outperform Pasture Goats

This was the third year in which University of Maryland Extension has compared the health, performance,and carcass characteristics of pen-fed vs. pasture-raised goats.

The pen-fed goats (n=15) were fed a diet of hay (free choice) and whole barley (limit-fed). The pasture (n=14) goats grazed alongside the bucks in the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test and did not receive any supplemental feed. Pen feeding proved to be more profitable, as the pen goats grew faster, were healthier, and produced superior carcasses.

 USDA grade
Price per cwt
Avg. weight
Value per head

Obviously, the profitability of pen-feeding will vary and is affected by many different factors. Pen-feeding is more likely to be profitable when feedstuffs are economically priced, when the goats being fed have the genetic potential to perform on a moderate or high plane of nutrition, and when (and where) the market pays a premium for better grading goats.

Pending funding, the study will be repeated in 2014, since this was the first year in which a uniform set of goats (same breed from the same farm) were utilized. The pen vs. pasture studies in 2012 and 2013 were funded by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board.

Read full article: 2013 Pen vs. Pasture Study

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