I mentioned the Pokok Turi a while back and the cuttings are doing well. Today i moved the last batch out and have a total of 46 trees planted on the farm. They are growing fast and these pictured are only 3 weeks old.
Ayu is one of the dogs at The Kebun. Adopted her from the local SSPCA. I sometimes catch her giving an evil eye over the Sheep and Goats as they graze. I wonder what goes through her mind. Lamb chops?
A Magnificent Kalahari Red Buck
A reminder on if whether you are just starting out with goats or already have them, for me the greatest challenge is achieving the optimum nutrition plane. There are several scenarios that must be considered and in a commercial mixed meat/diary goat herd such as ours, the requirements often overlap. Basically we follow the basic principal nutritional phases that must be met when planning goat-feeding.
1. Maintenance Nutrition. The minimum goat-feed nutrition required to meet a non-lactating doe requirements and also maintain body condition
2. Pregnancy Nutrition. Required to supply essential nutrition to both the doe and kids throughout gestation period.
3. Lactation Nutrition. Required to ensure both kids and doe receive optimum nutrition, so that suckling kids grow at optimum rates (quality milk makes quality kids)
4. Kid Nutrition. Minimum goat-feed required to achieve optimum growth when weaned
Remember!? Strike a Balance!
In 1999, a Jimboomba Queensland breeder, Wallace Kier had access to Kalahari Red embryos from Africa. And wonderfully, for him, two of the importation a doe and a buck, were pure black. The cessation of the importation of embryos from South Africa caused by the occurrence of foot and mouth disease there, means that now stock to widen the gene pool cannot come from South Africa at the present and this may be the case for some years. There is therefore a limited number of Kalahari genetics in Australia with a select number of stud breeders.
Kalahari Reds are ideally suited to the harsh and outstretched conditions of large parts of Australia. In South Australia they are bred in harsh conditions, arid and semi-desert areas. To prevail under these conditions, animals must be sun-resistant and hardy. Over the years, a natural selection process has ensured that only the fittest animals have survived and very little artificial selection took place. Their excellent mobility allows them to walk far in search of food and water. They feed on a vast variety of plants and are resistant to disease and parasites. Kalahari Reds are less susceptible to diseases and need to be inoculated and dosed far less than other breeds, which makes them easy to care for and less labor intensive. The limited use of vaccines makes the production of organically produced meat possible. A further boon is lean meat with an excellent taste and texture.
Does have excellent mothering instincts and kid right in the veld and raise their kids there. No labourers are needed to assist does to find their young. In South Australia selection is made strongly in favour of these attributes because kids that are properly cared for by their mothers will do likewise for their own progeny. Through natural selection processes, only the fittest mothers have survived. The does are fertile and produce plenty of milk and, as a result, the kids grow fast. Breeders select for twins that are usually of equal strength. To prevent kid mortalities as a result of an inability to suck, breeders select specifically for well-developed and properly attached teats. Generally, newborn kids are strong and have a strong urge to suck. They herd well and animals flock together. They breed all year round and will kid three times every two years.
Kalahari Reds can be used to give indigenous goats a uniform, solid red colour, with all the unique advantages that this brings. Their earthy colour provides a good camouflage that protects them from predators. White kids would be seen easily by foxes, pigs and eagles. They are fully pigmented and, therefore, able to endure heat and strong sunshine. Their dark coats and long ears provide good heat resistance and will, therefore, feed for longer during the heat of the day, which ultimately means higher weight gains.
The farmer can cross-breed Kalahari Reds to improve the carcass mass of indigenous goats. This means more meat per hectare. They are tall and long, which gives them excellent mobility. As they are taller than most other goats they can take advantage of more feed. Their carcass size is similar to the Boer goat. The average weight of a buck is as much as 115kg, while does reach 75kg. Kids grow fast. In Australia, young kids show weight gains of 1.5kg per week, with some even exceeding 400g per day!
A shipment by air of Kalahari Red’s are due to arrive from Queensland into Kuching Sarawak next month fro a breeder. It will be interesting to see how they fare. Personally I don’t see any issue in them tackling the weather but the challenge will be in getting them used to the local feed and see if they can do well on it.
The normal body temperature of goats is usually reported in the range of 101.5 to 103.5 F. Goats of lighter body weight are more likely to have higher temperatures than larger one when exposed to sun. To accurately assess the state of the goat, it is useful to record body temperatures in apparently normal herd mates of the same size. The temperature is taken with a rectal thermometer for 3 minutes.
When taking a rectal temperature, be sure to lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly or even saliva before inserting in the anus. Before inserting a thermometer, it is a good practice to tie a string through the loop at the end of the thermometer and attach a clip. You can use the clip to attach the thermometer to the hair or wool on the animal. This will prevent you from loosing the thermometer in the pen.
There is a wide range of problems with farmer feeding Goats here in Sarawak where it is in the tropical zone.
- Low levels of protein for growth (and milk production)
- Mineral deficiencies
- Poor access to fresh water
- Much too fibrous feed
- Seasonal feed fluctuations in quantity and quality
- Poor nutrition for lactating dams
- Poor quality feed for kids
Basically too few farmers take the effort to ensure that their Goats require more than the forage (at most times limited to some roadside growing grass) their Goats have access to when tethered or the cut and carry system many apply for stall fed Goats. For those who tether their Goats they very seldom take into consideration that these animals require a good selected site that perhaps was developed with forage foods and providing them with supplies of energy giving supplementary feed, protein and minerals. Stall fed animals should have access to selected quality and mixed feeds, forage crops and supplemented by giving energy, protein and mineral supplements.
There are also some considerations when managing stall fed Goats as in inadequate feeder space, cramped conditions and the lack of understanding that shy and bully Goats have to be separated not to forget those smaller Goats that tend to end up not getting their share when shoved and butted away by the bigger and stronger animals.
You don’t need a PHD to be a Goat farmer. Just good old basic common sense and most important an appreciation for nature.
In recent years, the Boer goat has received considerable attention in Sarawak where the Sarawak Agricultural Department has been actively promoting the Boer amongst local farmers. They have also been providing Boer’s, imported from Australia, on subsidized price’s to ‘qualified’ farmers some of which on a personal note i must say are at most times are neither skilled or knowledgeable most of which are new and are lured in by the supposedly good potential income. Sadly their motivation soon fizzles off when they discover there is a lot of personal capital and hard work involved. However whatever it is, it has become the main component in many goat improvement programs in state. This interest stems from the increase in the worldwide demand for goat meat and from the adaptability, productivity and carcass quality of the Boer Goat.
The Boer goat name is derived from the Dutch word “Boer” meaning farmer and was probably used to distinguish the farm goat from the Angora goat which was imported into South Africa in the 19th Century. The ancestry of the Boer goat is obscure at best. Several researchers agree that the predecessors of the Boer goat probably came from the southwest migrating Bantu tribes with a possible infusion of Indian and European goat bloodlines. The present-day, improved Boer Goat has adapted very well to a variety of ecosystems in its native South Africa, ranging from hot, dry semi-deserts to humid, tropical bush.
The Boer goat emerged in the early 20th Century when ranchers in the Eastern Cape of Africa started breeding for a meat-type goat with good conformation, high growth rate, fertility, short white hair, and red markings on the head and neck. The South African Boer Goat Breeders’ Association was founded in 1959 to establish standards for the emerging breed. Since 1970 the Boer goat has been incorporated into the National Mutton Sheep and Goat Performance testing scheme, which makes the Boer goat the only known goat breed involved in a performance test for meat production.
GROWTH, MEAT & CARCASS CHARACTERISTICS
The Boer goat is a large framed animal with mature weights between 260-380 lbs. for males and 210-265 lbs. for females. The potential for growth is outstanding. Under intensive performance tested conditions, males averaged 80 lbs. at 3 months of age; 160 Lbs. at 8 months; 222 Lbs. at 12 months; 257 Lbs. at 18 months; and 313 Lbs. at 25 months. Females averaged 63 Lbs. at 3 months; 139 Lbs. at 12 months; 165 Lbs. at 18 months; 220 Lbs. at 24 months.
The Boer goat is capable of attaining an average daily gain of over 400 gr. or 0.88 Lbs. daily in feed lot situations. The Boers average daily gain potential on pasture or rangeland is outstanding and offers great possibilities for selecting to improve growth rates. The Boer goats dressing weight percentage is over 50%. Compared to South African sheep, the Boer goat had the higher dressing percentage with carcasses having more total tissue in the fore arm, neck and ventral trunk, and less tissue in the hind limb.
South African scientists concluded that “Boer goats seem to yield a carcass superior to Angora, dairy and over meat goats” and that “fat content and muscling of Boer goat carcasses compared favorably with those of specialized mutton producing breeds”.
Thus, it is not surprising that with their excellent growth and carcass qualities many well known goat specialists listed the Boer goat as one breed that could make a major contribution to increasing productivity of meat goats worldwide.
A good meat goat should also be fecund and prolific. More kids born per doe will result in greater profit margins for the producer. The ovulation rate for Boer goats ranges from 1 to 4 eggs per doe with a mean of 1.7 (plus or minus .9). A normal kidding rate of 200% is common for the Boer goat. This is higher than most other goat breeds, thus the Boer goat can be considered a prolific breed. This conclusion was also reached in New Zealand and Australia, based on the number of super ovulated embryos (9) harvested from the Boer goat donor program.
The Boer goat reaches puberty early, usually about 6 months of age for males and 10-12 months for first-mating females. The Boer goat has an extended breeding season and it is possible to achieve 3 kiddings every 2 years.
Boer goats are good milkers, which enables them to successfully raise their multiple offspring with excellent weight gains and with little preweaning mortality. A South African study indicated that lactation length was 120-140 days for Boer goats and their yield was about half that of South African Saanen, which had a lactation length of 278 days. Boer goats had a higher butterfat (5.6%), total solids (15.7%), and lactose (61) than any other goat breeds in South Africa. It has been postulated that for the Boer goat to attain its high preweaning average daily gain, the doe must produce up to 5.5 Lbs./day. Actual milk production of Boer goat does under extensive management systems is actually less, ranging from 3.3 to 5.5 Lbs./day, depending on age of doe and lactation number. These milk yields are not impressive by dairy goat standards but for a goat that has not been selected for milk yield, it is considered excellent. This demonstrates the superior maternal capabilities and the ability to rear multiple young of the Boer goat doe.
Boer goats have been developed for over 40 years through intensive breeding and selection as a meat type animal and have also benefited from over 20 years of performance testing. This excellent breed of meat goat has the necessary characteristics lacking in other meat type goats. These characteristics are large size, uniform carcass, fast growth rate, fecund and prolific, long breeding season, good browser, good milker and excellent mothers for profitable meat goat production. Because of its large frame and faster growth rate, it needs more nutrients to maintain and support optimum growth rates. Therefore, while Boer goats may not be suitable for all ecosystems or affordable by all producers, there is a need to match type of goat with feed resources a farmer in Sarawak has available. So now there will be no need to wonder when there are local born mature ‘stunted’ Boers walking about on most Sarawakian farms.
Napier grass is a fodder grass that produces a lot of high-protein forage. It is also known as “elephant grass”, “Sudan grass” or “king grass”. Its scientific name is Pennisetum purpureum.
Napier grass is best suited to high rainfall areas, but it is drought-tolerant and can also grow well in drier areas. It does not grow well in waterlogged areas. It can be grown along with fodder trees along field boundaries or along contour lines or terrace risers to help control erosion. It can be intercropped with crops such as legumes and fodder trees, or as a pure stand.
The advantage of napier grass is that it propagates easily. It has a soft stem that is easy to cut. It has deep roots, so is fairly drought-resistant. The tender, young leaves and stems are very palatable for livestock and grows very fast
The disadvantage is that it is an aggressive plant that spreads through rhizomes under the ground. If it is not controlled, it can invade crop fields and become a weed. The older stems and leaves are less palatable for Goats.
Plant them angled into the ground at about 30 degrees, so two of the nodes are buried in the soil and one is above the ground. Plant more rows with a spacing of about 90 cm (3 feet) between the rows. Planting “slips” or “splits”* If you planting “slips” or “splits”, you do not have to wait a long time for the grass to grow before you can multiply it. Seedlings from the slips become established more quickly than those grown from cuttings. Cut Napier grass stems at ground level to remove all the green material. Dig up the clump of roots and shoots growing under the ground. Separate each seedling from the clump. Each seedling must have both roots and a shoot. Trim the roots to about 5 cm (2 inches) long. Plant the seedlings in small holes or a furrow. Cover the roots with soil, but leave the shoots open to the air. Planting whole stems is useful during the heavy rains, and in hilly areas where you need the grass to sprout quickly to cover the ground. Plant them along the contour to control erosion. Cut whole young stems of Napier grass, about 2 m (6 feet) long. Put the stems end-to-end in a furrow, and cover them with soil. Water immediately.
Weed the Napier grass plot regularly. If any of the cuttings die, fill in the gaps with new ones. Harvest the grass when it is 90_120 cm (3_4 feet) high. Harvest the grass following a pattern. Beginning at one end of the row, cut enough grass to feed your animals for 1 day. The next day, cut the next grass along in the row. Carry on until you reach the end of the row. In this way, you will always be able to cut fodder for your livestock. Apply liquid manure by digging trenches in between the rows of grass. Pour liquid manure into the trenches If the livestock do not eat all the grass, use the remainder as mulch or compost. Cut the grass 15_25 cm (6_10 inches) above the ground. Some farmers have found it is better to cut at ground level, though this may damage the plant too much. Fill in any gaps in the rows with fresh cuttings. Don’t use older stems as planting materials, as they will not germinate well. Don’t intercrop with cereals, as the grass will compete with the crop for nutrients and light. Don’t allow animals to graze on the napier grass, as they may damage or kill the plants. Don’t allow the grass to overgrow, as it may become a weed. Don’t allow the grass to grow too high (more than 120 cm or 4 feet), as Goats will not eat the tough bits.
I have been trying out giving the Goats some ‘Pokok Turi’ cuttings and they seem to love it. Some cuttings have been planted and it will be many month’s before they will be large enough to start harvesting on a regular basis. For some reason this tree seems pretty hard to come by even when it supposedly is a herbal remedy.
Goats like a variety of forage so give it to them!