Nutrition Game Plan to Maximize Market Opportunities

Wellness : Health

Wellness : Nutrition

Purina Animal Nutrition Logo

Purina Animal Nutrition

Volatility in goat and lamb market prices is always a possibility. Anytime you deal with market uncertainty, you need to have a game plan for nutrition. When you have a strategy in place, it provides options to deal with any challenges or opportunities that might arise. Here are a few considerations to think through to get the best return on your investment, no matter what the market might be doing:

Slow them down 

Feeding market lambs and goats can be a bit of a waiting game. Holding back the rate of gain for market animals is a strategy to get you through down markets, but it takes careful balance. Wait too long, and you may invest more in the overall cost of gain than the animals are worth. But wait just long enough, and you can reach better market conditions and maximize profitability.

Typically, feedlots utilize a high-energy finishing ration to provide muscle development and fat deposition. Slowing down growth requires a different approach. Feed market lambs and goats a maintenance ration with high roughage, low calorie, low carbohydrate and low energy.

Feedstuffs in a maintenance ration includes fiber-based ingredients such as cottonseed hulls or soy hulls, with hay making up the balance.

If your youngstock hasn’t moved onto a feedlot yet, consider keeping them on pasture until the market turns around, depending on pasture availability. Don’t forget to provide mineral to grazing lambs and kids to reduce mineral deficiencies.

Speed them up 

Add weight quickly when goat and lamb market prices rally, particularly in peak consumption months tied to holidays.

High carbohydrate, energy-dense diets containing grains like corn, oats or barley work well to quickly add pounds to youngstock. Growing animal diets can be at 3.5-4% fat without jeopardizing your market lamb or goat’s health.

Ramp up the amount of energy-dense rations steadily over time. Otherwise, you risk damaging the rumen and causing digestive issues such as acidosis by introducing too much feed at once. Include higher amounts of fiber at the start of the feeding program and phase it out while more energy-dense feeds are fed to add weight and limit acidosis.

Alternative lamb and goat market considerations 

Emerging food trends could pave the way to premiums as an additional source of income when traditional lamb and goat markets are down. Demand for organic, natural and grass-fed products presents some alternate marketing opportunities but may require changes to your nutrition program.

There’s also growing interest in local meat, presenting opportunities for market lamb or goat sales at your local meat locker. Larger operations might be able to pull a few animals out to sell locally, but the majority will still need to go through traditional market channels.

Manage market animals differently from the regular flock or herd. The goal is to add weight to them efficiently before their slaughter date. Adjust the ration with either more energy and less fiber to put pounds on quickly or feed more fiber and less energy to slow the growth when locker dates are further away.

Providing appropriate feed to meet market lamb and goat nutrition requirements and efficiently add weight for your target market is a balancing act. Watch the lamb and goat market prices, cost of gains and the balance sheet to confirm you’re making the right decision.

Looking for the right nutrition products to prepare your animals for market? Find a dealer here.