PINKERTON, continued from Page 11

accomplish this weight gain. For instance, you could wean them at 3-4 months of age and place them on good pasture plus minerals- only for leisurely daily gains of .2-.3 lb/day. You might/might not creep-feed the kids during the suckling period. Alternatively, you could elect to creep-feed them post-weaning on pasture to improve average daily rates of gain. To increase ADG to .4-.5 lb/day, the goats would have to efficiently convert the creep- feed into muscle gain, say, 6-7 lb of feed per 1 lb of gain. Historically, meat goats have not been genetically selected for improved Feed Conversion Efficiency leading to improved ADG. Most owners with small herd sizes gather only reproductive perform- ance data, not average weaning weights and ADG of the kids. Ac- cordingly, they don’t have a clue as to the likely FCE and ADG of their kids, pre-weaning or post-weaning.

Other owners might elect to not raise kids, but rather to buy weanling goats from farms or auction barns and place them in shed- ded facilities with small exercise lots for growing to chosen finished weights. Weaned lambs have been placed into commercial feedlots for many years, but meat goats are only rarely finished in such lots. Historically, goat producers have sold their slaughter animals at live weights under 80 lb because packer buyers lowered the buying price/lb for heavier (fatter) goats. Contrarily, there are now newer and more numerous ethnic buyers/consumers who are culturally at- tuned to eating older, larger goats (yearling wethers around 125 lb seem to be preferred).

In certain parts of the U.S., these needs have been noted and heavier goats do not now suffer appreciably lower price discrim- ination. I believe this development explains much of the increased interest in ‘feed-lotting’ meat goats. Readers should understand that USDA/AMS does not collect data on ‘feeder-goat prices/lb’ as they do on slaughter goat grade and weight categories. Auctions do not report feeder-goat prices because smaller goats in the 25-45 lb range are called ‘small slaughter goats’.

Those readers routinely watching weekly/monthly slaughter goat prices know that prices for kid goats under 50 lb are typically higher/lb than those over 50 lb. In January and February ’21, such lightweight TX kids were selling at over $4/and a few broke $5.) When you are considering selling your 2021 slaughter goats at higher weights than you have in the past, your basic calculation is to estimate whether the added weight will return a greater net profit, or not. You can ‘know’ the likely net income if you sell at, say. 70 lb but you can only guess at two crucial figures — the price/lb to be received at, say, 120 lb and the feed and overhead costs of adding the 50 lb of body weight.

This guesstimate is, unfortunately, problematic; in effect, it re- quires you to gamble, pure and simple. You can either gain or lose or breakeven, but only if you try. It is, essentially, a learning game, and I and Goat Rancher readers will applaud your effort and be prepared to celebrate, or commensurate, with you as the case may be. Caveat: I warn readers that the size of a commercial goat feed-

lot is of serious concern to prospective players because there are fed- eral and state concerns about possible adverse environmental effects on nearby neighborhoods. My book on meat goat management and marketing has a lengthy article, “Feedlots for Meat Goats: Opportu- nities, Constraints, and Economics” that speaks generally to these concerns in 2010. A decade later, there are still on-going public con- cerns, as evidenced by state and federal agencies whose rules and regulations tend to be confusingly variable, as also is the degree of on-farm adjudication and enforcement. I will forward you a copy of the article on request, no cost.

14 Goat Rancher | April 2021

I do understand that commercial lamb feedlots with a one-time capacity of 3,000 hd are subject to federal and/or state oversight, but I know of no such limitation for meat goats. However, most all of you readers/owners would have smaller finishing units for your farm- raised wethers and for purchased feeder kids. I suggest a letter to you from your county seat Sanitary Commission, prominently posted on your premises, would deflect any visitors that might want to protest your ‘inhumane’ goat husbandry practices (unnatural, crowded, too closely confined, no social distancing, whatever).

Hair sheep management and marketing I get inquiries from folks who are considering hair sheep pro- duction in addition to meat goat production or in lieu of meat goat production. Over the past few years, some goat owners report that their goats have denuded their brush lands and non-leguminous grasses have replaced the brushy species. As a result, they inquire about the economics and management of lamb production to utilize this new forage. Historically, sheep enterprises in Texas and the Rocky Mountain area of the U.S. produced primarily wool for the weaving/clothing industry; lambs were of secondary concern. However, as wool pro- duction declined over time for various reasons, sheep ranchers turned to raising hair sheep primarily for the lamb market. The major breeds of hair sheep are Dorper and Katahdin and their crosses, and the Texas sheep inventory is now over 90% hair sheep. Some operations in Australia and New Zealand are also switching toward hair sheep for export to the U.S. and elsewhere. I understand that hair sheep lambs do not have the traditional sheep meat flavor due in part to the absence of the smelly wool oil called lanolin and that per capita lamb consumption has responded fa- vorably. I have only rudimentary knowledge of sheep management and marketing, but there are sheep extension specialists at most universities. Contact their Animal Science Departments for such personnel. Alternatively, your local county agricultural extension agent can identify local sheep farms for an exploratory visit. I urge caution in surfing the net for information on sheep production… the info on meat goats can be dangerous to man and beast alike.

Texas winter wonderland

I experienced the coldest period in my 92-year life in mid-Feb- ruary… single digit weather and only intermittent electricity — a miserable mix, indeed. The state energy availability was severely compromised, and there is and will be prolonged gnashing of public and political teeth as well as myriad enthusiastic accusations of pore- ass responses and local government failures to anticipate and react in a timely manner.

The 22+ county goat ranch land areas are thought to have suf- fered substantial kid losses due to inadequate shelter and adult losses due to piling/smothering in sheds as reported by local newspapers. The final extent of the losses will be known (approximately) only when the surviving off-take is evaluated via producer surveys and the annual 2021 census count becomes available in January 2022. I coped fairly well with cold but acknowledge that Tanqueray

gin w/Fever Tree tonic water and Black Velvet bourbon contributed materially to my climate defense. I was determined to pass to the Texas State University Body Farm (Forensic Anthropology Center) as painlessly as possible.

(Dr. Frank Pinkerton, PhD, is a retired extension goat specialist

living in San Marcos, Texas. He can be contacted at 512-392-4123 or by e-mail at

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