To examine the possibility of reducing milk substitute costs in artificial rearing of goat kids, 36 castrated male Saanen kids at 2 days of age were randomly allocated across six treatments in a 2×3 factorial design experiment. Milk substitute was provided for the kids over a period of 28 or 39 days, and daily levels of milk substitute dry matter (DM) intake were 0·140,0·176 or 0·272 kg.
Increasing the level of milk substitute offered had no significant effect on intake of concentrate up to weaning, but did significantly reduce the total intake of concentrate through to slaughter. Weaning after 39 days, as opposed to 28 days, also significantly reduced the total intake of concentrates. However, there was no difference when the same total quantity of milk substitute was consumed over different periods. Increasing the daily intake of milk substitute significantly increased daily live-weight gain to weaning, but tended to increase the time taken by kids to regain their weaning weight following cessation of milk substitute intake. However, milk substitute level and weaning age did not significantly affect overall daily live-weight gain or the length of time taken to reach 28 kg.
Eight additional kids were slaughtered at 2 days of age to develop regression equations relating initial body composition to live weight. These relationships were similar to others published for 2-day-old Saanen kids. Treatments had no significant effect on overall rates of fat, crude protein, water, ash and energy gain or on final body composition, carcass weight or carcass composition when kids were slaughtered at a live weight of 28 kg. These data suggest that savings in milk substitute may be achieved by reducing the weaning age and/or the daily intake level.