Monday, October 24, 2011

ECR Rusty Kat consigned to Cream of Crop

ECR Rusty Kat, an ECR Rusty son out of a Sports Kat daughter, is back home from the Western Illinois University Buck Performance Test. Rusty Kat finished in the middle of the pack with an overall average daily gain (ADG) of .39 pounds per day. His best performance was his feed efficiency of 4.33 (second best in the test), which means he gained 1 pound for every 4.33 pounds of feed consumed. You can tell by looking at the photos below that he takes a lot after his maternal grandsire, Sports Kat, with the stockiness and muscling, even on the rump. Rusty Kat was born March 8, 2011.

Rusty Kat, a 100% New Zealand Kiko, is consigned to the Cream of the Crop Kiko Production Sale (Lot #53) scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29, at 1 p.m. at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Corydon, Ind. Click here for pictures of some of my other consignments to the sale. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Acorns are a part of our goats' diet

Acorns can supplement a goat's diet in the fall.

These does are pawing underneath oak trees looking for treats.

Found one!
I've heard supposed experts say that acorns will kill goats. I guess if they ate too many at one time they might, but that could be said of anything in their diet. Acorns have always played a part in our goats' diets. Every fall when the acorns begin to fall, you'll see the goats running from tree to tree to nibble on the tasty nuts.

I've had ranchers in Texas tell me that a large acorn crop helps give the goats a nutritional boost at breeding time, which can help conception rates. Others have told me that the tannic acid in acorns acts like a natural dewormer and that is why goats look so slick and healthy in the fall.

How true all of this is, I don't know. But I do know that my goats have been eating acorns for many, many years with no ill effects. The acorns this year are tiny compared to some years — probably because our lack of rain. Surprisingly, other foodstuffs, such as persimmons and muscadines, had bountiful crops. So our goats have had a variety of tasty treats this fall — which means a lot of free nutrition. (I took the above photos on my way to the office this morning.)

While doing research, I was reminded that humans have been eating acorns for thousands of years. Acorns were a large part of the Native American diet. They knew how to soak them to remove the tannins and used the the nuts in a variety of ways. Click here for an article on how you can prepare your own acorns for safe consumption.

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).