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Relationship of body condition score, live weight, stocking rate and grazing system to the mortality of Angora goats from hypothermia and their use in the assessment of welfare risks

journal contribution
posted on 2008-02-01, 00:00 authored by Bruce McGregor, K Butler
Body condition scoring is widely used for sheep and cattle but the practice is included in only one Code of Practice for the welfare of goats in Australia. There is no published scientific evidence to support or defend its use in the assessment of welfare risks to farmed goats.

PROCEDURE: The significance of stocking rate, grazing system, body condition score (CS) and live weight were investigated in explaining the risk of mortality of individual and flocks of grazing Angora goats from hypothermia following a severe weather event in April. This event occurred 5 weeks after shearing the goats. Angora goats and Saxon Merino sheep were grazed alone, or mixed together in equal numbers at each of three stocking rates.

RESULTS: There was no mortality amongst Angora goats provided they grazed at the lowest stocking rate even when their CS was < or = 2.0. Mortality in flocks of Angora goats was most related to the CS reached during the preceding 2 months. For flocks of Angora goats there was no mortality at CS > or = 2.5 and mortality increased sharply at mean CS < 2.0. For individual Angora goats, mortality increased as CS declined and stocking rate and grazing combinations were additive in effect on mortality. Grazing with sheep increased mortality of Angora goats at higher stocking rates. The individual goat mortality rate was not dependent on individual plot effects suggesting that these results are applicable widely. Live weight loss was not related to mortality rates of goats once CS had been accounted for.
CONCLUSION: It was concluded that CS and stocking rate were highly significant determinants of welfare risk in Angora goats.

History

Journal

Australian veterinary journal

Volume

86

Issue

1-2

Pagination

12 - 17

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell

Location

Oxford, England

ISSN

0005-0423

eISSN

1751-0813

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, The Authors, Journal compilation, Australian Veterinary Association

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