Monday, September 29, 2014

Pen-fed vs. Pasture-Raised Goats: 2014 Results

For the past four years, the health, performance, and carcass characteristics of pen-fed vs. pasture-raised meat goats has been compared at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville.

This year's results were similar to last year's, in which the pen-fed goats were healthier, performed better, and produced superior carcasses as compared to the pasture-raised goats.You can read the results of this year's study at

The Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board has funded the pen vs. pasture study for the past three years.

Summary of 2014 Pen vs. Pasture Study


Ando said...

Interesting that pen fed does better than pasture raised. I guess grain does a body good. Thanks for the info.

Susan Schoenian said...

About a lb. of whole barley per day was fed. Most of diet is hay (forage). Problem with pasture is that it is deficient in energy. Parasites also affect performance.

The Bogle Family said...

There are a few variables that would be nice to know. Did the pasture have much legumes or forbs? Did the goats on pasture have equal opportunity for shelter? What were the weather conditions? And in the end, what was the cost per pound or cost per liter of production?

Susan Schoenian said...

Details are in the full article. I plan to add a discussion on economics. Based on New Holland prices, pen feeding added about $65 to the value of the goats, as they were 15 lbs. heavier and would have averaged at least one grade higher. There's significant price differences between selection 1, 2, and 3 goats. The added value would easily pay for the purchased feed, not to mention pasture is not free.