to interpret the values and what they really mean or evaluate. The measurements se- lected have to be carefully chosen based upon actual production data, reviewed, and used only as one of many tools in selection criteria for production management in meat goats. The individual(s) collecting and ana- lyzing the data must have integrity and hon- esty as a personality requirement. Goats Unlimited decided to begin linear

measuring offspring from the original 4 im- ported Kiko meat goat bucks from New Zea- land. Initial linear measurements and measurements of bucks and does have been taken over the past 30 years of selective breeding. The linear measurements selected were: wither height, hip height, body length (live and carcass), rump width, rump length, heart girth (spring of rib) and cannon bone diameter.

Carcass Quality

One characteristic trait that kept surfac- ing in need of enhancement was carcass qual- ity with predictable consistency.

In other

words, all carcasses at a designated weight, whether 45 or 75 pounds, had to be consis- tent in dressing percentage, cooler shrink weight, rib eye size, cutability, muscling, leg circumference and conformation score. Those traits are important in our niche mar- keting as we supply chefs with whole car- casses and sell cut/wrapped/boxed meat cuts. The chef has to know how many car-

casses to order, the exact weight of each cut they plan to prepare, how to cut and serve the desired cuts of meat – consistency of known high quality are their demands.

Those requests became our goals as niche marketing offers a higher price per pound than any other mode of carcass sales. We are able to offer naturally produced goat meat because we do not use deworming drenches or antibiotics; the goats consume native vegetation and then fertilize naturally through dung and urine.

Our herd vaccination program differs for individuals selected for replacement breeding stock and wethers or cull females for our meat market. The replacement stock is vaccinated with clostridium perfringens C and D with tetanus and leptospirosis (a dis- ease carried by deer, wild pigs). The wethers and cull females are not vaccinated. To get around the tetanus situation, the does are vac- cinated three weeks before kidding and anti- bodies are then passed to the kids from the colostrum.

Goat meat has always been a lean red (ethnic) meat dish. The goat is not geneti- cally coded for a ‘fat’ finish and the ethnic

36 Goat Rancher | May 2020

Dr. An Peischel’s genetics go back to the four Kiko bucks she purchased in New Zealand in 1990.

(traditional) consumers do not like to eat fat. I consider that advantageous for Goats Un- limited Kikos. It costs more to put on fat than muscle. But the true value of grass- fed/grass-finished or browse-fed/browse-fin- ished goat meat: it is higher in omega-3 fatty acids (high quality fats), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and higher levels of antioxidants (Vitamin E, beta-carotene, Vitamin A and other plant pigments). These are all human nutritional advantages to help reduce choles- terol levels and minimize the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.

Carcass merit is an easier trait to select for (moderately heritable) compared to repro- ductive traits (low heritability) but there are also within breed differences. For identify- ing sires that produce offspring expressing desirable carcass characteristics, we use a single-sire mating breeding program. In- creasing the percentage of lean has to be done early in life as muscle cell numbers are set pre-natal and muscle fiber bundles in- crease in size (length and width) from wean- ing to about 12 months of age.

Nutrition plays a role in carcass quality

as it affects the birth weight of the kids, the health of the offspring, sparks the kids im- mune system, uniformity of weanoffs (pre- dictability), time to puberty, and maintaining

a high body condition score. Stress has to be minimal as it increases the amount of energy expended, decreases water consumption, and intensifies hormonal effects. To minimize stress, we use livestock guardian dogs, modified behavioral manage- ment techniques, quiet working facilities and peaceful labor (including the use of Border Collies). To help guarantee carcass quality to clients, we deliver our goats to the slaughter facility in the early morning and they are pro- cessed as soon as we arrive. There is no pre- or post- slaughter stress which affects the quality (tenderness, color) of the meat. After lots of record keeping and analyz- ing, we are slowly making progress toward our initial goal. Upon completion and anal- ysis of data, we have increased our dressing percentage by 7%, with only a 0.01% hot:chill weight loss ratio, the rib eye area in- creased by 0.45 square inches, the conforma- tion score has gone from an 8 to 13 (based upon 1 to 15) and carcass length increased 2.75 inches.

Had we not started using some linear measurements when we did, we would not have had an initial starting point – a base. You have to know where you are in produc- tion management, the environmental effects

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