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Sustainable Dairy Goat Milk Production from Forages

B. R. Min, S. P. Hart, and T. Sahlu

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

This study was to investigate the effects of different levels of concentrate supplementation on milk production and composition by pastured dairy goats. Forty-four Alpine goats (56 ± 11 kg BW) were randomly allocated to four groups and supplemented with 0.66 (Groups A and B), 0.33 (group C), and 0 kg concentrate (group D) per kg of milk over 1.5 kg/d. Mixed vegetative forages (rye/crimson clover, rye/ryegrass, wheat/ryegrass, and crabgrass) were rotationally grazed by the goats except for group A (confined and fed alfalfa hay). Milk production was recorded daily and milk samples were collected twice monthly for 7 months (March to September 2000) and analyzed for fat (F), protein (P), lactose, solids-not-fat (SNF), and total solids (TS). Contents of F, SNF, and TS were similar among diets. However, P concentration in group C was higher than for groups A, B (P = 0.10), and D (P < 0.01). Lactose concentration in group D was lower than in other groups (P < 0.05). Average milk concentrations of F, SNF, TS, P, and lactose decreased (P < 0.01) over the lactation (from March to September) by 38, 37, 21, 19, and 12%, respectively. Average milk yield of the 7-month period was 3.4, 2.9, 2.5, and 2.1 kg/d for treatments A, B, C, and D, respectively, with significant differences (P < 0.01) among all treatments. However, milk yield in the first 2-month period was similar (3.6, 3.3, 3.1, and 3.1 kg/d for treatments A, B, C, and D, respectively) and then decreased significantly in the summer (3.3, 2.8, 2.3, and 1.8 kg/d, respectively; P < 0.01). Greatest summer milk production for group was probably due to higher energy intake. Goats in group A gained BW (19 g/d); but groups B, C, and D decreased in BW (-9.3, -12, and -30 g/d, respectively). Milk yield and composition varied among dietary treatments, with some measures affected by stage of lactation and season. It can be concluded that all concentrate levels supported similar high levels of milk production by pastured dairy goats in early lactation, but were inadequate for high production during the summer.


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