WESTERN DISIVION MANAGEMENT OF CASHMERE GOATS
FIRST PUBLISHED JANUARY 1985
AUTHORS: Greg Marwick, District Livestock Officer, N.S.W. Department of Agriculture, Bourke. Terry Mitchell, District Livestock Officer, (Goats), N.S.W. Department of Agriculture, Dubbo.________________________________________
These notes aim to help maximise productivity of cashmere and meat from goats being run in the Western Division of NSW and similar areas in other parts of Australia.
Suitable fencing is essential for control and management of cashmere producing goats.
Sheepyards can be adequately modified for handling goats by raising the outside fence to about 1.3m which can be done by attaching fabricated wire to extend posts.
Management activities such as castration, casting for age and regular handling will all have the effect of quietening the mob. It may be necessary to cull the occasional animal with a behavioural problem such as a regular escapee.
Controlled mating is essential for management of kidding, selection of replacement stock and for maximising cashmere production.
It is apparent that the stress of kidding and subsequent lactation is enough to cause cashmere growth to cease and shedding to occur. To avoid this uncontrolled loss of cashmere it is important to know when does are due to kid, so that they can be shorn before kidding.
Does should be first mated at about 18 months of age. Mating at that age will allow does to grow-out enough for them to have a greater chance to go into kid and rear a well grown kid, while not being too greatly affected themselves. The best production will come from does that well grown at first mating.
We suggest that about 2 per cent of bucks be used at mating. There are suggestions that bucks that are about 18 months old, are not able to satisfactorily cover as many does as older bucks. If this experience is proven correct, then a greater percentage of young bucks should be used, while older bucks can be mated at a lesser percentage.
New born kids are much slower to their feet and first drink than lambs. Kids are not as active as lambs and they do not usually feed or water with their doe for the first few days. The young kids spend much of their early days asleep in a sunny warm "nest" protected from the wind. They also sleep very soundly.
These factors combine to make kids very easy prey for predators like foxes and pigs. It is important to conduct an effective predator control programme before and during kidding. If predators are not controlled they can decimate a kidding.
Assistance with planning a predator control programme is available through Pasture Protection Boards.
Where scrub is thick, causing visibility to be too restricted to adequately supervise kidding, then a paddock could be opened-up by heavy goat stocking. Once the area is opened-up, stocking rates should be reduced to a level where scrub will be continually defoliated but ground cover will grow. Paddocks managed in that way will be more suitable for supervision of kidding and predator control.
Fly strike is unlikely to be a problem as kids do not have their tails cut off, nor do they need to be mulsed. Castration can be done using either a knife or rings. Experience of some graziers is that rings may not cause as much trauma as a knife when used to castrate buck kids.
Ear marking is done in the same manner as for lambs, using the owner's registered sheep ear mark in the same ear, i.e. right ear for does, left for males. If individual identification is necessary, numbered ear tags can be inserted high up in the ear, close to the head.
Early data indicates that for maximum cashmere yield per head, it is essential that goats be maintained in good condition, with access to adequate feed. Doe goats that are maintained in good condition are also likely to have higher reproduction rates.
At moderate stocking rates some scrub control is possible while adequate levels of cashmere production and reproduction should be achieved. If scrub control, i.e. a reduction in scrub density is the aim, then both cashmere production and reproduction will be reduced as stocking pressures are increased.
Most red soil areas in the Western Division are known to have relatively low levels of phosphorus and sulphur. Also, stock readily eat salt licks in these areas.
We suggest that a mineral lick should be made available to supplement the salt, phosphorus and sulphur levels that are present in available feed. This should be available to goats at all times.
If a propriety block is used, it should contain no more than half salt (NaCl) while it should have at least as much phosphorus (P) as calcium (Ca).
A suitable supplementary lick that can be mixed at home is:
Together the ingredients are mixed and put into a steel trough. The surface should be wet and then allowed to dry before use. This will make the surface hard and will stop goats from taking mouthfulls. An intake of about 30 g per head per day can be expected.
It is important to wean kids from does at least eight to 10 weeks before mating is planned. This will give does adequate time to recover body condition to ensure satisfactory conception rates.
Similarly, weaning before seasonal cashmere follicle growth is initiated should ensure maximum cashmere production, providing nutrition is adequate. This may well require weaning during November or December.
Depending on fencing, it may be necessary to wean by keeping kids in goat proof yards for up to two weeks. Kids need to be fed if yard weaning is practised.
Lice cause irritation which results in goats rubbing and leads to lower fleece value.
The risk of re-infestation by lice carried on feral goats is real in the Western Division. It may be necessary to dip several times during the year to overcome this problem.
Internal parasites may cause some production loss in western areas. The effects of worms are felt most by young stock. The following drenching programme to protect growing goats from worm infestation is suggested: drench does off-shears pre-kidding; drench does and kids at marking; drench kids at weaning. Further drenches may be considered if seasonal conditions warrant.
Protection of stock against clostridia) diseases is cheap insurance against loss. Does can be vaccinated at shearing (pre-kidding) to assist in increasing the level of passive immunity passed onto kids. Kids should be vaccinated at marking, again four weeks later and again at weaning.
The recommended vaccine for western areas is 2 in 1 (pulpy kidney and tetanus).
As these are fleece bearing animals, the best time for visual selection is when they are showing near maximum fleece growth. Kids to be retained are best selected at about 10 to 12 months of age. At this time does can be visually culled for factors such as down colour. A final culling on fibre diameter can be made if the does are individually identified, and a fleece sample taken at shearing, is sent for measurement. Mature does should be checked at weaning and culled if they have damaged udders or failed to rear a kid. Aged does should be culled at weaning time.
Vegetable fault, such as trefoil burr, can be a problem in the Western Division. Selection for goats that have guard hair longer than down will be worthwhile. Observations indicate that goats whose guard hair is longer than their down growth have a much lower degree of vegetable fault.
© 1985 ACGA