|The behavioural and physiological responses of goats managed for liveweight gain under various pre-feedlot and feedlot structures|
School of Animal Studies
The University of Queensland
Overseas demand for Australian goat meat is currently far greater than our capacity to supply it. Members of the Australian goat meat industry are trying to address this shortfall by establishing long term production plans and market links to Asian, Middle Eastern and European countries. Similarly, research into the viability of various goat production systems such as feedlotting are being examined to establish a means of producing a high quality and consistent product on a large scale.
This research had three experiments. The first examined the use of lithium chloride as a quantitative feed intake marker; the second determined the optimal pre-feedlot domestication stocking density and duration of the treatments examined; and the third determined the optimal feedlot structure and stocking density.
In the first experiment 12 goats were kept in metabolism crates over two consecutive periods and fed a ration that contained lithium at one of five concentrations (0, 0.5, 1, 3, and 5 mg lithium per kilogram feed). Lithium chloride was found to be a quantitative feed intake marker as the relationship between lithium concentrations in the blood plasma of goats fed lithium in their ration and the amount of lithium consumed in that ration can be accurately predicted. This study accurately detected changes in the lithium concentration in the blood plasma due to small changes in the amount of lithium ingested per day. However lithium as a feed intake marker did not predict the intake of feed by individual goats fed in groups within the feedlot. The lithium method failed in its practical application.
In the second experiment 80 goats were stocked at one of four densities (8, 16, 32, and 64 goats per hectare) to determine the optimal density to domesticate and prepare goats for their feedlot environment. If goats are stocked at 64 goats per hectare with the facilities that they will encounter in the feedlot (feed troughs, water troughs, fencing and a feedlot ration) for a period not exceeding five days, their acceptance of feedlot facilities is greatly improved on entry to the feedlot.
In the final experiment 160 goats were stocked at one of two densities (850 and 1700 goats per hectare) in one of two feedlot pen structures (typical or environmentally enriched [with old car/truck tyres and wooden railway sleepers to climb on and PVC piping to mouth and butt in the pens]) within a modified cattle feedlot. Goats gained more liveweight, possibly due to reduced stress and agonistic behaviours, when they were lot fed at 1700 goats per hectare in environmentally enriched pens. Lot feeding was calculated to be uneconomical if the goats were lot fed for a period exceeding 42 days.