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Effects of supplementing polyethylene glycol to goat kids grazing sericea lespedeza and early post-weaning nutritive plane upon subsequent growth

R. C. Merkel, A. L. Goetsch, and N. Silanikove

Sheep and Goat Research Journal 18:8-13. 2003

Sericea lespedeza is a perennial summer legume now found throughout Oklahoma and in neighboring states, partly due to its use as a soil conservation crop in the 1930's. Although sericea lespedeza is a legume and can grow in less fertile soils than other legumes, it is considered a noxious weed in some areas. Sericea lespedeza contains condensed tannins that can affect digestibility and are the likely cause of low consumption by cattle, which limits its usefulness as a pasture forage component for beef. In demonstration trials using goats, no aversion to lespedeza consumption has been noted; thus, lespedeza can be a feedstuff for goat production. However, the problem of condensed tannins and their potential negative effects on digestibility could remain. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) binds condensed tannins, displacing bound proteins or preventing initial binding. Recently, granular PEG has been fed as a supplement mixed with a small amount of grain to goats consuming tanniferous browse species, resulting in improve forage intake and digestion. In addition, common management practices used in rearing goats entail the use of pastures in the early post-weaning phase of growth and possibly later. However, as demand for goat meat increases, the use of concentrate-based finishing diets for goats may become more prevalent. Diets fed in the early post-weaning growth phase have been shown to affect growth rates in subsequent finishing phases in cattle and sheep. There has been limited research on this topic using goats. Therefore, objectives of this research were to compare the growth rate of kids grazing sericea lespedeza-dominated pastures in the early post-weaning phase with or without PEG supplementation to that of kids receiving a concentrate diet, and to investigate the effects of early post-weaning growth rate on subsequent performance. Young Boer Spanish doelings were used to test effects of PEG supplementation of grazed sericea lespedeza and early post-weaning nutritive plane and growth rate on subsequent performance with a concentrate-based diet fed in confinement. It was noted that PEG supplementation of Boer Spanish doelings grazing condensed tanning-containing sericea lespedeza-dominated pastures resulted in a doubling of average daily gain (ADG) compared with doelings not receiving PEG in a 6-wk grazing period. Hence, PEG supplementation could be a valuable tool in the management of meat goats grazing tanning-containing forage to increase growth rate. However, future studies should entail longer periods of evaluation. Differences in ADG in the early post-weaning period did not affect ADG later with the feeding of a concentrate-based diet relative to continuous concentrate consumption, perhaps because ADG in the limiting nutritional plane phase was moderate and(or) periods of low and high nutritional planes were not consecutive.


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