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Effects of individual vs group confinement and forage access on performance of artificially reared, confined Alpine kids

A. L. Goetsch*, G. Detweiler, T. Sahlu, L. J. Dawson, and S. Zeng

E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK

Forty Alpine kids (20 females and 20 males) were used to determine effects on performance of individual vs group confinement and access to forage during the suckling period. Kids began the experiment at 3 to 9 d after birth (3.6 ± .10 and 4.0 ± .09 kg initial BW for females and males, respectively). Treatments were: individual confinement in 91 × 91 cm cages (C1); confinement of two kids (one in the experiment and another older) in 182 × 91 cm cages (C2); group confinement (with at least two older kids present) in a 2.43 × 1.22 m pen (P); and P plus free access to alfalfa hay (PF). Milk was consumed ad libitum for 8 wk with free access to a concentrate-based starter diet, followed by a 4-wk post-weaning period, the first 5 d of which entailed restricted milk intake. In the 8-wk suckling period, milk intake was similar among treatments (1.81, 1.80, 1.89, and 1.77 kg/d; SE 34.8), whereas sex influenced the treatment response in ADG (interaction, P = .02) (female: 159, 154, 172, and 154 g/d; male: 175, 193, 162, and 182 g/d for C1, C2, P, and PF, respectively (SE 6.3)). In the 4-wk post-weaning period, ADG was greater (P < .05) for P than for C2 and PF (75, 54, 112, and 49 g/d; SE 16.4), although for the entire 12-wk experiment ADG was similar among treatments (137, 134, 149, and 128 g/d for C1, C2, P, and PF, respectively; SE 6.7). In conclusion, housing two or more Alpine kids together vs alone and offering hay during the suckling period did not enhance performance during or shortly after suckling.


 

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