Meat goat carcass evaluation
In 2009, the University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program began harvesting goats from the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test to collect carcass data. The purpose was to characterize the carcasses from pasture-fed meat goat bucklings.
In 2011, a preliminary study was initiated to compare the carcasses of pen-fed vs. pasture-raised goats. The pen-fed goats were fed a diet of grass hay and commercial pellets. The pasture-raised goats grazed alongside the goats in the 2011 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. All of the goats in the study were provided by consigners to the 2011 buck test.
In 2012, the study was repeated, with 15 goats in each treatment group. The pen-fed goats were fed grass hay and a concentrate ration consisting of 4 parts whole barley to 1 part protein pellet. The pasture-raised goats grazed alongside the bucks in the 2012 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. As in 2011, all of the goats in the study were provided by consigners to the 2012 test.
In 2013 and 2014, the pen vs. pasture study was repeated with several changes. All of the bucks originated from the same herds; thereby, reducing genetic variability. The bucks were fed a good quality orchardgrass-alfalfa hay and whole barley.
In 2016, a Performance & Carcass Contest was held in conjunction with the buck test. Consigners to the buck test were eligible to enter a goat in the contest. Fifteen goats were entered in the contest.