Winter Forage Program Benefitted Small-Scale Goat Producers
American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Science
Small and limited resource farmers are raising goats on pastures in the southeast USA. Nevertheless, many of these farms do not have productive and quality pastures to support the nutrient requirements of their animals. Information on forages that are suitable to improve goat pastures and sustainably grazing those pastures with goats is still lacking. Study objectives were to (1) find winter forages suitable for goats, (2) evaluate the productivity and quality of these forages and (3) assess
... s and (3) assess the benefits farmers would receive from pasture improvement and grazing management. Two separate studies were conducted, one in Selma and another in Phenix City, Alabama, USA in 2012 and 2013 (September/October-April). Each study was designed as a randomized complete block with three replications. Five legumes: Arrowleaf clover (Trifolium vesiculosum Savi), berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L.), crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) and winter peas (Pisum sativum L.) were grown with Marshall ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) in 40:60 legume:grass ratio on separate strips. A sole Marshall ryegrass strip was planted as a control. Goats' preference for and productivity and quality of forages and benefits associated with winter pasture and grazing were evaluated. Goats readily grazed all forages but winter peas at the very first exposure; from the second exposure onwards, goats grazed winter peas well. The mixtures of crimson clover and Marshall ryegrass and hairy vetch and Marshall ryegrass produced the most. The cost of goat production was significantly reduced because of the development and management of winter pastures. Raising goats on pastures can be much more beneficial than raising them on purchased feeds.