By Wendi Williams, Extension Communications & Marketing Coordinator
ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, AL–On August 13, 53 meat goats arrived at Alabama A&M University’s Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) in Hazel Green, Alabama. The goats were transported from Tennessee State University’s Research Farm in Nashville, Tennessee. Their highly anticipated arrival marks the next phase of the project “Advantages of Using Forestland for Meat Goat Production.” This project is funded by a 3-year, $347,000 capacity grant by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
A goal of this initiative is to explore how goats control understory vegetation in urban areas. Valens Niyigena was part of the intake staff to get the project underway. Niyigena is the grant’s co-principal investigator and the new animal scientist for Alabama Extension at Alabama A&M University (AAMU). Darren Beacham, the lead goat technician, was also present. Beacham will oversee the daily goat management activities at WTARS.
Also in attendance was the grant’s principal investigator and forestry researcher Kozma Naka and AAMU students. Other Extension attendees included 1890 administrator Allen Malone, assistant director Kimberly SinclairHolmes, Extension agent Marcus Garner, and the Agribition Center team.
Prepping for Research
Prior to the goats’ arrival, Naka and his team of students took soil samples at WTARS and AAMU’s Agribition Center. Additionally, the project will explore how goats improve soil fertility, carbon, and nitrogen recycling.
As the principal investigator Naka said, “The project will not only determine how browsing affects the immediate vegetation, but what microbial impact the goats will have on the soil.”
Furthermore, gastrointestinal parasites are a common ailment of goats, particularly in the Southeast. Once unloaded, the animals were weighed, tagged, and checked for FAMACHA score. FAMACHA is a method used to control parasites in small ruminants like goats. Next, the goats were dewormed with anti-parasitic medication Fecal samples were also collected from the goats to determine the presence of parasitic eggs.
Researchers will use project results to increase awareness of agroforestry’s economic, social, and environmental benefits to farmers and forest landowners. Specifically, goat producers will be educated on how to determine costs associated with producing goat meat using local forestland.
Contact Kozma Naka and Valens Niyigena for more information about this project. Additional information can be found online at Advantages of Using Forestland for Meat Goat Production.