All things raising, grazing, and marketing meat goats
June 8, 2022 Q&A Topics:
- Goat Grazing Plans
- Portable Electric Fencing Challenges – Tangling
Watch the Live Q&A Replay Here:
Here’s a summary of what I shared:
Goat Grazing Plans:
- We move our herd every 1-2 days to a new paddock, and don’t return to a paddock no sooner than 30 days.
- Research has shown the shorter moves help reduce parasite issues with small ruminants.
Background on the parasite cycle:
- Parasites live and reproduce in the abomasum and intestines of goats and could produce thousands of eggs per day. When goat are grazing, they shed eggs in their manure throughout the pasture. When it’s warm and wet, the eggs hatch, go through two molts, and develop into the infective L3 larval stage within 3 to 4 days (Zajac, 2013).
- To minimize reinfection, it’s important to plan grazing moves before day three, making moves 1-2 days more ideal for goat health.
Reference: Zajac, A. 2013. Biology of parasites. In: Proceedings of American Consortium of Parasite Control Tenth Anniversary Conference. American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, Fort Valley, Georgia. Available at https://wormx.info/2013-conference
Resource: Best Management Practices for Internal Parasite Control in Small Ruminants. 2017. American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control. Available at https://www.wormx.info/_files/ugd/6ef604_71bcda722c8949b688ad05e3cb828615.pdf
From there with each paddock
- I’m basing moves off forage availability: are they eating everything or being selective? Too selective might mean the paddock might be a bit oversized. I like the principle of take half, leave half.
- At this point I’m usually assessing visual indicators of when to move/paddock sizing.
- But paddocks tend to be about an acre in our pastures. We’re running about 70-80 head with kids/lambs on 20 acres of permanent pasture. Then we also will graze our hayfields 1x a season, along with other parts of our farm that aren’t fenced in, including an old oak savannah we’re restoring.
- This is what works with our setup and forage availability, it will be different based on others forage availability different regions or it even differs when we’re doing work in our woods
Stocking Density Calculations
Source: Pastures for Profit, University of Wisconsin Extension
How many goats per acre? Or, how many goats can I put in a pasture?
The calculation below will give you a rough estimate on the maximum number of goats that can be grazed on acreage available, according to the University of Wisconsin Extension.
- The total acres of pasture for the season
- Estimate the average pasture yield per acre. Yields will vary based on different forage mixtures (see tables for estimates).
- Estimate of grazing season in days
- Estimate of the average weight of your animals for the season. (goat = 120, or goat with kids: 200)
- Estimate the number of animal numbers that be grazed on your pasture during an entire season:
Number of animals = (total acreage) x (average yield/acre)/ 0.04 x(average weight animal/animal) x (total days grazed)
Reference: Undersander, D., Albert, B., Cosgrove, D., Johnson, D., and Peterson, P. Pastures for Profile: A Guide to Rotational Grazing. 2014. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Accessed at https://learningstore.extension.wisc.edu/products/pastures-for-profit-a-guide-to-rotational-grazing-p96
Portable Electric Fencing Challenges – Tangling
Q: Does your fencing work well I have heard of goats and sheep getting startled and running into it and getting all tangled up. I am wanting to get a small herd that I can move throughout our property and have been researching good fence that can be moved. I have noticed a lot of folks use the net fencing but have heard horror stories of them getting tangled up.
A. We use both the electronet from Premier 1 Supplies and the Smart Fence, a multi-reel system from Gallagher both work well for us.
- Tangles can happen, but it’s also important to fence train a herd/flock to electric fence so they know to respect it, including understanding how it works to minimize getting tangled or breaking out.
- We retrain and train new/young goats at the beginning of every grazing season. It makes a big difference with issues. If you’re interested learning more I have a reel on fence training & a more comprehensive training
- Also keep it on and hot!
Tangling when putting it up, taking it down, and storing it. I forgot to mention this in the Q&A, but this can also be when the fence will tangle. It’s really important to move the fence by “folding it” and do not roll it until it is folded. We actually try not to roll it at all possible. To fold it from being up, I will go through and take each post out and lay the fence down on the ground. Then I go through and pick up one post at a time, stacking them on top of each other with the net folding/hanging down. We then will tie the posts together to store flat on a trailer when we move the fences. My husband likes to pull the posts and “stack” them as he takes the posts out. I prefer the other just because it’s easier for me to handle the fence in that manner.
Next Q&A Live
Wednesday, June 15, 6:30 a.m. CST on Instagram @cyonrollingacres
How to submit questions
- Fill out the online form here
- Or submit a question below
About the Live Q&A Series
The Live Q&A Series is every, Wednesdays at 6:30 a.m. CST on my @cylonrollingacres Instagram account. After each Q&A I’ll post the replay on my blog, along with any links or resources I mention in the replay. Sign up for my Raising Goats Community email list and you’ll be sent an email to the replay link and notes on the blog. Sign up here to get on the list: https://www.grazingwithleslie.com/list
When I started raising goats, I quickly discovered there’s a lack of information and research focused on meat goats from a production standpoint and goat meat itself. Since then I’ve learned a lot “on the job,” along with finding the little university research and best practices out there.
Over the last 10 years I’ve been sharing our journey raising meat goats and grazing them through blogging, social media, and speaking at workshops and conferences. Aside from being transparent with my customers and community, I share a lot of this information so others raising goats don’t have to start at zero.