AAAS QLD & NT Webinar series: September 2020

You’ve goat to be kidding me!
You missed the “We’ve Goat this” Webinar? Catch up here.

Hello Fellow Animal Enthusiasts!

Didn’t we get bang for our buck at last week’s webinar?!?! This was one of our most popular webinars yet with more than 90 registrations, including some from an international audience. The goat industry in Australia is growing every year and the interest in our webinar shows that research in goats is in high demand. Never fear, some of our best scientists are on the job! This little blog post will summarise all things goat that were presented by Dr Emma Doyle, University of New England, and Dr Simon Quigley, University of Queensland.

First though, how much do you know about the goat products that Australian farmers produce?

Australia’s meat goat industry is a worth $236 million with most of the meat we produce being exported to the USA, but our domestic market is steadily growing as consumers try other red meats. Our dairy goat industry is worth over $20 million with a large export market for powdered milk and a growing domestic market for folks who are unable to consume cow milk. October is the time to celebrate all things goat and get on board with the ‘Goatober’ movement on social media. Get out there and support our goat industries – buy some goats cheese,  treat yourself to a goat milk or tallow skin care product, ask your butcher for some goat meat, or maybe even lash out and buy yourself something special made of goat leather or fleece. Post it to social media with the hashtag #goatober and support our goat industries!

This growing goat industry means that we need more research on some of the fundamentals that we are already familiar with in other animal industries like cattle and sheep – parasite control and nutrition.

Dr Emma Doyle is working on a Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) funded project which aims to determine dose rates and with holding periods for products currently used in sheep and cattle to control gastrointestinal worms (anthelmintics). At the completion of the project, this information will be provided to vets to allow them to give more accurate and safer off-label directions to goat producers using these products. Currently there are only two anthelmintic products registered for use on goats – these are short acting and, in some areas, there is widespread resistance to them. Incorrect use of anthelmintics can lead to drench resistance but can also result in chemical residues in meat and milk which affect the security of the whole goat-product supply chain.

The first experiment Emma’s team completed showed that in boer goats, the sheep drenches derquantel, monepantel and moxidectin (oral and injectable) and cattle drenches eprinomectin and doramectin all had at least 95% efficacy (knock down of worm population). However, moxidectin pour-on was not suitable at all. The second experiment determined that the sheep and cattle withholding period (WHP) and export slaughter interval (ESI) information for the effective products were also safe for goat meat and offal. The third experiment is about to start and will assess some of the same products for their milk residues in dairy goats.

Dr Simon Quigley’s project is also funded by MLA and has been designed to assist goat producers when deciding what to feed goats that are below slaughter weight. The results of the experiments will increase the understanding of nutritional requirements, and growth rates in rangeland goats in response to various protein and energy sources and in the end, will produce a calculator to assess feed costs vs growth benefits. Previous research in goat growth rates has yielded varying results from -35 to 170 grams of liveweight per head per day. There is also uncertainty around the nutritional requirements of goats due to studies being conducted on goats of various breeds and confinement status.

Experiment one and two looked at the growth rate response of young male rangeland goats to different sources of protein (cotton seed meal, whole cotton seed, Lucerne chaff, or urea) or energy (wheat or sorghum) supplements in the diet. Supplement intake was measured along with growth rate. Combining the results of these two experiments has produced trend lines that demonstrate how the intake of a protein or energy source produces addition growth above the control diet. This information is being used to develop a least cost supplement calculator that will be available at the end of the project. At the completion of these initial experiments the goats were put into larger areas and fed diets of Lucerne hay or commercial pellets ad libitum. These diets resulted in growth rates of 150 to 200 g/day. Experiments three and four are nearly underway and will include lot-feeding rations to examine the liveweight response of young underweight goats to various levels of crude protein and metabolisable energy.

The research being conducted by Emma and Simon are greatly needed by the goat industry and we are all eagerly awaiting the results of their final experiments! To keep up to date with the findings from their MLA funded projects as well as much more, subscribe to the Goats on the Move newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Kylie Hopkins

AAAS QLD & NT Branch Committee

To listen to the full webinar, please visit our Facebook page