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Additional Ways to Improve Productivity

Read the topics below for additional information related to improving productivity:

Increasing feed efficiencies through herd health and reducing mortality

Increasing feed efficiency will improve the overall productivity of your herd. Ensuring animals are healthy will allow them to utilize feed more efficiently.

There are numerous variables that impact herd health. To name just one, control of internal parasites is a major factor in overall goat health . Parasites and other health problems can prevent goats from getting needed nutrients from their food, causing weight loss.

Loss of animals through kid and adult goat mortality can cause your farm significant economic loss. Implementing biosecurity protocols, developing a herd health plan, and having a valid veterinary client/patient relationship will help you optimize herd health and reduce mortality.

The resources below will provide more information on herd health and mortality:

Quick checklist to assess goat kid health: PDF

The following table provides a list of infectious diseases of young kids:
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/animals/terrestrial-animals/biosecurity/standards-and-principles/producer-guide-goats/eng/1375213342187/1375213659306?chap=1

Infectious diseases of young kids
Disease Category
and Name
Zoonotic
(Yes=Y/
No=N)
Other Susceptible Species Sources of Infection Your need to exclude or manage
(Low=L, Moderate=M, High=H)
Anthelmintic resistant (AR) gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) parasites N Sheep, llamas, alpacas Failure to kill GIN parasites after deworming due to the parasites’ resistance to that dewormer is an emerging problem.

Inappropriate deworming practices can cause this resistance and goats are of particular risk because they a) fail to develop immunity to GIN parasites as adults and b) usually require a higher dose of dewormer to kill the parasites, so they are frequently inappropriately treated.

New introductions pose a risk of bringing AR parasites onto a farm.

 
Coccidiosis
(Eimeria spp)
N None Oocysts are shed in the feces of infected kids and recovered adults and can build up in the environment (barn, drylot, pasture) until the load is high enough to cause disease in kids three weeks to six months of age. Fecal contamination of feed is associated with more severe levels of disease.  
Gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) parasites (Haemonchus, Teladorsagia, Trichostrongylus, Nematodirus) N Sheep, llamas, alpacas Eggs are passed in feces of infected animals and contaminate grazing pastures. Introduced animals pose a risk of bringing in new infections.
Adult goats can be affected as well.
 
Neonatal diarrhea (caused by coronavirus, rotavirus, enteropathogenic E. coli) N Lambs, calves, crias Bacteria are shed in the manure of goats and can build up in the environment until the load in the kid rearing area is high enough to cause significant disease in kids less than two weeks of age.  
Neonatal diarrhea (caused by Cryptosporidia) Y Lambs, calves, crias The oocysts of this protozoan parasite are shed in manure and contaminate the kidding and kid-rearing environment. If the load is sufficient, it can cause disease in kids two days to six weeks of age.  
Neonatal septicemia from opportunistic bacteria N Any very young animal Kids that are born into a dirty environment and/or are colostrum deprived can contract bacteria from their environment. These bacteria enter through the navel or tonsils and invade the entire body.  
Orf / soremouth / contagious ecthyma (parapox virus) Y Sheep, llamas, alpacas The virus lives in scabs, which drop off and contaminate the pens, feeders and hair. The virus can live for months to years in a dry environment. Some animals remain chronically infected and the virus can be isolated from scars of previous infections, and serve as sources of infection for other goats.  
Pneumonia (Mannheimia haemolytica, Mycoplasma ovipneumonia) N Sheep These bacteria normally inhabit the throat of healthy goats. Environmental stressors (e.g., crowding, ammonia, temperature fluctuations, humidity, mixing of groups) will allow severe disease to occur.

Occasionally respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) will cause acute, severe viral pneumonia in kids. The virus is shed in respiratory secretions from older recovered goats.

 
Pulpy kidney / enterotoxemia (Clostridium perfringenstype D) N Sheep The bacterial spores are shed in feces and contaminate the ground and feed. If the animal lacks immunity and the feed source is rich (i.e. lush pasture, heavy grain), the ingested spores will grow in the gut, producing a toxin which rapidly kills the kid (sudden death).

Adult does may also develop disease, but it is less acute.

 
Salmonellosis Y All animals Feces from animals such as rodents, birds or other carrier animals contaminate feed. Diarrhea from infected animals contaminates the environment.  

Full goat biosecurity planning guide:
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/animals/terrestrial-animals/biosecurity/standards-and-principles/producer-guide-goats/eng/1375213342187/1375213659306?chap=1

Housing or Infrastructure for labour efficiency

One way to look at your facilities and how they impact labour efficiency is from the perspective of work flow. For example, an Alberta farm operation planning to expand their facilities had a Lean assessment done. Based on the assessment which analyzed work flow, they learned that they could remove interior walls for the same cost as expanding to more efficiently use their current space.

Learn about how other farm businesses used Lean principles to make housing and infrastructure changes to increase efficiency and productivity:
http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/All/info14118

Besides labour efficiency, there are numerous other factors to consider when it comes to expanding or building a goat facility. Read this version of the Goat Gazette for more information:
https://ontariogoat.ca/goat-gazette/expanding-facilities-july-2015/


How to Reduce Feed Waste

With feed representing 70-80% of your input costs, it pays to reduce feed waste.

A few key points for reducing feed waste include:

  • High quality feed is used more efficiently, and has a greater potential to generate profit.
  • Feeders designed for small livestock to help reduce waste. Modified cattle stalls or other makeshift feeders will cause animals to waste feed.
  • Raised feeders to reduce feed loss and manure and urine contamination and hay that has been trampled on is less appetizing to animals.

For more information on feed quality and reducing feed waste, visit:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/goat/facts/info_goatpasture.htm
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/beef/facts/roundbales.htm
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/beef/news/vbn0508a2.htm
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/01-073.htm
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/field/forages.html

Consider harvesting losses as well. Wet baling, or haylage, results in harvesting loss compared to dry bailing. Wrapping round wet bales with plastic can help reduce feed waste. If a large round bale is 30-45% moisture, there will be less spoilage than with dry bales, especially if they are stored outside, which can cause 20% loss in storage alone. Wet bales are more palatable to the goats than dry feed, and you do not need the drying and turning process before baling. With a good round baler one person can bale more hay in a day than three people making small square bales of hay. For more information about the advantages of haylage visit:
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/info_haylage.htm
https://www.beefmagazine.com/vermeer-corporation/why-baleage-has-advantage-over-dry-hay

“Anything we can do to make our time more efficient is absolutely crucial for us. This tool provides a baseline for knowing labour requirements. As farmers we really have to put a value on our time.”
– Mark Card, meat goat producer
Cardlea Farms, Ontario

“Consider labour requirements for feeding during the off-pasture season versus while goats are on pasture. You may be able to intentionally plan other projects during the time when goats are on pasture.”
– Mark Card, meat goat producer
Cardlea Farms, Ontario

Additional Resources:

http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/improving-forage-yields-84

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/field/forages.html

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub811/p811toc.html

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/business/agriculture-natural-resources-and-industry/agribusiness-farmers-and-ranchers/livestock/cattle-poultry-and-other-livestock/sheep-and-goats/meat-goat-production

https://ontariogoat.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2016-GOAT-Annual-Report-FINAL.pdf