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Research Article Open Access
It is hypothesize that combining legume forages with grasses will increase plant protein output as well as animal performance. Two years of winter grazing experiments were conducted at the Caprine Research and Education Unit at George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station, Tuskegee University to develop a profitable and sustainable forage-based meat goats production system. Forty-eight Kiko-crossbred (Capra hircus; 19.6±1.5) meat goats were randomly allocated to 6 groups as following: (1) annual ryegrass/wheat (RW; Lolium multiflorum/Triticum aestivum, respectively) + Berseem clover (BC; Trifolium alexandrinum), (2) RW + Austrian pea (AP; Pisum sativum), (3) RW + Hairy vetch (HV; Vicia villosa) + AP, (4) RW + HV + AP + BC, (5) RW + HV, and (6) annual RW as a control with 2 replicates per treatment during 2 years. An average multi-culture forage dry matter (DM; kg/DM/ha) production during 2 years tended to be (P = 0.07) greater for RW+BC than other forage combinations. Biomass production in February and April were higher (P < 0.01) for RW+BC than RW+HV and RW forage combinations, but there was no forage treatment x year interactions. There were no differences in initial body weight (BW), final BW and average daily gain (ADG) among treatments, with no treatment x year interactions for animal BW changes and ADG. However, hot carcass weight, cold carcass weight, and dressing percentage were greater (P<0.05) for RW+BC and RW +HV+AP than for RW grasses. Sirloin weight was greater (P<0.04) for RW+BC than for RW pasture, while leg weight was greater (P < 0.03) for RW+HV + AP than for RW control. Goats grazed on grasses-based diet (RW), had higher average saturated fatty acids (SFA; P < 0.01) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA; P<0.05) in intramuscular fat content, but both were lower in mescentric kidney fat (MKF) and subcutaneous fat (P < 0.05-0.01) compared to legume forage-based diets. Goats grazed on grass-based diets, had higher omega-3 and -6 fatty acids in intramuscular fat content (P < 0.05-0.08), but both were lower in subcutaneous fat (P < 0.05-0.01) compared to legume forage-based diets. This is probably due to higher nutritive values of forage diets throughout the winter grazing period. The results produced indicated a greater increase in carcass yield with more desirable fatty acids compositions in intramuscular fat content in meat goats from grass-legume multiple combinations compared to mono-culture forage.
Meat goats, Performance, Carcass, Winter forages, Fatty acids, legumes, Animal Nutrition,Feed additive