The Newsletter of the E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research Cooperative Extension Program, Langston University
Production loss has many facets. According to the USDA/APHIS NAHMS report entitled "Goat and Kid Predator and Nonpredator Death Loss in the United States, 2015", by the way Mr. Branan is associated with this USDA program, about 500,000 adult and kid goats were lost to all causes (nonpredator and predator) in 2015, which represented 10% of U.S. adult goat inventory and 20% of kids born in 2015. The total value of goat and kid losses was $70 million. Texas had the largest inventory of goats and also had the highest percentage of losses: 36% of U.S. adult goat deaths and 38 % of kid deaths. Nonpredator causes accounted for about three-fourths of all adult goat and kid death losses in the U.S. in 2015. Of known losses due to nonpredator causes, internal parasites were the primary cause, resulting in almost 87,000 goat and kid deaths in 2015. For 2015 death losses due to predators, coyotes and dogs accounted for the highest percentages of goat and kid death losses in 2015. Overall, coyotes and dogs accounted for almost 80,000 goat and kid deaths, or about 65% of all losses due to predators.
In the allied USDA/APHIS NAHMS report entitled "Sheep and Lamb Predator and Nonpredator Death Loss in the United States, 2015", about 585,000 sheep and lambs were lost to all causes (nonpredator and predator) in 2014, which represented 7% of U.S. adult sheep inventory and 11% of lambs born in 2014. The total value of sheep and lamb losses was $102 million. As with goats, nonpredator causes accounted for about three-fourths of all adult sheep and lamb death losses in the U.S. in 2014. The top three causes of nonpredator death loss in adult sheep were: old age (24%), unknown nonpredator causes (13%), and lambing problems (12%). The top three causes of nonpredator losses in lambs were: weather-related causes (19%), unknown nonpredator causes (12%), and lambing problems (11%). The top two causes of predator loss were coyotes and dogs for both adult sheep (54% and 21%, respectively) and lambs (64 and 10%, respectively).
We tend to think in the above reports as day-to-day losses from hundreds of thousands sheep and goat operations. However, sometime production losses can be quick and overwhelming. Hurricane Harvey caused more than $200 million in crop and livestock losses in south Texas in a matter of days. Of that loss, $93 million was in livestock, which included not only cattle and calves but also industry infrastructure. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused losses of $15 million for poultry producers and $8 million for cattle producers. Unlike Harvey, Hurricane Katrina losses did not account for infrastructure damages. So the actual losses were probably much greater.
As we can see from the aforementioned studies, sheep and goats have similar concerns in combatting production losses but also have unique concerns. Therefore, it is important for goat and hair sheep producers to prepare against production losses at the micro and macro levels.
I mentioned hair sheep because we recently added a small research flock of Dorper, Katahdin, and St. Croix hair sheep and we want to address research and educational concerns of hair sheep producers in all of our activities. In the Summer 2017 newsletter, I mentioned the hair sheep flock. This fall, we mated a large number of ewes and are awaiting lambing season. This is new territory for us. The farm crew is well versed in kidding and the management of kids but not lambing.
In the winter of 2017, we unveiled our online certification goat producer courses (http://certification.goats.langston.edu). Actually, the meat goat online course was a completely revised version of our popular course and the dairy goat online course was a brand new course. With the assistance of the American Dairy Goat Association in promoting the online dairy goat course, we have grown in enrollment exponentially. In just over a month, we have gone from 40 participants to more than 400. Our hope is that the online courses will equip dairy and meat goat producers with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to become better managers of their goats and thereby, preventing future production losses. Currently, we do not have any plans for a hair sheep online course but it is always a possibility for the future.
On the research side, we said goodbye to Dr. Dereje Tadesse Gulich, who returned to Debre Birhan University in Ethiopia. For two years, Dr. Tadesse worked on the research project entitled "Genomics of Resilience in Sheep to Climatic Stressors" led by Dr. Art Goetsch. Dr. Tadesse’s studies involved the three hair sheep breeds that we mentioned earlier. We also said goodbye to Ms. Hiywot Eshetu, who was an animal technician at the research farm and who is Dr. Tadesse's wife. We will miss them both and we wish them well.
I hope to see you at the Goat and Hair Sheep Field Day.
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.