Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goats adapt and thrive on Bermuda grass

These Kiko-cross does graze on Bermuda grass.
Experts will tell you that goats don't like Bermuda grass and that parasites (worms) love it. The trouble is that Bermuda grass is a fact of life for most of us Southern ranchers. It grows naturally, it thrives in our heat and moisture, yet is drought tolerant. If you buy hay in this part of the country, it will be some variety of Bermuda.

It is possible to kill it out with chemical sprays and plowing, but that is expensive. Over the years, our goats have adapted to Bermuda, and goats raised on our farm don't know they are not supposed to like it. It's not their favorite food — they much prefer the weeds and few broadleaf grasses they can find, but as a staple, Bermuda grass makes up a large part of their diet.

Haemonchus worms like Bermuda because it holds moisture next to the ground and makes a perfect habitat for worm reproduction. Our solution has been to rotate pastures as often as possible and use Kikos genetics, which are more parasite resistant than some breeds. When raising goats on pasture in the Deep South, it takes strategies from several angles to keep your goat business successful and profitable. And one of our strategies is to use the forage that is free and readily available, which is Bermuda grass.

Bermuda Grass Facts:
• Bermuda grass pasture seed produces the most commonly used pasture grass for livestock grazing and hay production throughout the southern and central USA. Improved bermuda pasture grass seed varieties produce excellent quality hay for all grazing animals and have a high production yield. These improved seeded forage varieties also exhibit more frost resistance than hybrid or sprigged varieties
Pasture: Bermuda grass is a perennial, tropical and sub-tropical forage (warm season grass) and should not be grown in the cooler areas because of winter kill.

• Bermuda grass is a warm season, perennial grass that has been found growing in many native forms all over the world. Bermuda is a drought tolerant, fast growing, full sun grass and can grow on soils of low fertility as long as they are well draining. This is a tenacious grass and in one form or another is found growing in approximately one third of the USA at this time (warmer areas).

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