Average daily weight gains (ADG) in early life are associated with health, welfare and future production potential of dairy animals. While this has yet to be established for goats, research in cows demonstrates a positive relationship between growth in early life and milk production (Shamay et al. 2005, Soberon et al. 2012). Early growth rates are largely determined by the management practices from birth onwards. It is therefore unsurprising that large differences in ADG under different management systems have been reported. In lambs, Mahgoub et al. (2000) reported a large range in ADG (84-154 g/day). Similarly, in calves, Bartlett et al. (2006) reported ADGs ranging from 251 g/day to 703 g/day. The ADGs reported in goats have not been as variable (152-170 g/day: Galina et al. 1995; 167-173 g/day: Goetsch et al. 2001); however, these were small, controlled studies. To our knowledge, no research has yet quantified variability in the ADG of goat kids on a large, multi-farm scale. Therefore, the aim of this study was to describe the variation in growth rates on multiple dairy goat farms in the Waikato region of NZ, providing a benchmark for dairy goat farmers.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, 2016, 76 pp. 137 - 138 (2)