Seven Stages of Development

Seven Stages of Development
By Gary Pusillo,Ph.D., P.A.S.,A.C.A.N. Diplomat

The following seven developmental stages are being suggested to help build a better goat. Currently, attempts are being made to identify the developmental ingredients of certain stages in a goats growth pattern.
  However, when maximum genetic potential is sought, always remember that genetic potential can only be reached when excellent management and excellent nutrition are combined. Premium specimens are designed prior to birth and refined after birth into the elite of the caprine world-champion stock.
   Ultimately the successful goat is related to the success of it’s dam. The doe is the living factory where a finely tuned assembly line manufactures kids. If there are shortages of one or several raw materials or nutrients during the assembling process, weaknesses in the finished product occur, and genetic potential is not reached.
   One could equate the doe with an escrow account for building a new house and its offspring with the actual finished project. Adequate initial deposits into the escrow account allows for more quality in the finished project. But try to make significant withdrawals without first making adequate deposits, and a zero balance occurs before the project is completed.

Several developmental tasks must be accomplished during this stage. Each animal has the genetic potential to develop a certain number of muscle fibers while en utero. After birth, the best that can be done is to grow those numbers to a greater size. Muscular hyperplasia is the process of encouraging the development of the maximum number of muscle fibers possible while the kid is still a fetus. Most muscle growth after birth is due to an increase in muscle cell size rather than an increase in muscle cell numbers. Small cells, called satellite cells, that lie next to muscle fibers possess the ability to fuse with mature skeletal muscle cells, helping to increase the muscle fiber size. Under conditions that allow this process to take place, muscle growth can progress to a higher degree. When very specific, targeted nutrition is available to the doe and the developing kids, the maximum numbers of muscle fibers developed in utero is reached.
Proper prenatal growth will help set one producer’s goats apart from those in other herds. Malnutrition of the doe during gestation, especially during the last trimester can manifest itself as floppy kid syndrome or a host of other problems. All caprine producers must realize that many of the commercial feeds available might be inferior and will lead to a lifetime of problems associated with developmental disorders. Inferior inputs results in inferior outputs.
The key to proper kid development is maintaining a consistent and steady rate of growth. While hereditary dictates maximum growth and development of the kid, nutrition governs the rate of normal growth and the extent to which development is attained. Optimal nutrition allows for maximum growth performance. A balanced diet consisting of water, protein, energy, minerals and vitamins is necessary for kids to attain their maximum inherent growth and development.
Developmental strengths and problems in the skeletal and integumentary system begin in utero with vitamin and mineral deficiencies or vitamin and mineral excess. Because the whole developmental process is so extremely complex, to pick out one , two or five nutrients that are most important in the process would not do justice to all the requirements, Balance and bioavailability is really the key.
During the gestation process, the cleansing system of the doe are encountering the greatest challenge. The respiratory, renal and hepatic systems must function at peat efficiency to meet the ever increasing demands to remove metabolic toxins from the doe’s body, thus providing a non-hostile environment for the developing kids. The renal and hepatic functions are enhanced when the diet is adequate in balanced vitamin/trace mineral levels and foodstuffs presented are free of mycotoxins or agricultural chemicals. These systems are extremely complex and for optimum efficiency, correct balance and bioavailability is indispensable. The respiratory system meets increased challenge when the environment has elevated levels of ammonia and noxious gas levels that results from less than careful manure management.
Through monitoring the gestation ration, its nutrient components and anionic/cationic ration, the attempt is made to prevent hypocalcimia (milk fever). With the first signs of mild fever, it is important to supplement with a high quality calcium supplement.

At stage two, birth, we concern ourselves with strong uterine contractions to facilitate the birthing process. Signs of calcium deficiency include delayed uterine involution, small corpora letea, cystic ovaries and retained placenta. Phosphorus deficiency has been linked to weak or stillborn kids, delayed onset of puberty and depressed fertility. Iodine excess has been known to cause abortion, or kids born with limb deformities. Selenium deficiency can lead to retained placenta, abortion, stillborn or dead newborns. Evidence show iodine deficiency lead to embryonic mortality, birth of hairless or weak kids. Animals with zinc deficiencies show sighs of cystic ovaries, and abnormal estus.
Kids are born without any humoral immunity, therefore they must receive their first protection via the dam’s colostrum. Consequently, it is important to have adequately nourished the doe with additional zinc, selenium, copper and iron, since these mineral are particularly involved in immune development.
At birth our concern would then naturally be the quality and quantity of the colostrum and the kid’s ability to ingest it as soon as possible. Particularly when does are first fresheners, their ability to supply a good quality and quantity of colostrum may be less than adequate. Also, because of the potential  for CAE, many producers choose to heat treat colostrum. During the heat treatment process it is possible to alter the integrity and availability of immunoglobulins and non-specific proteins. For those reasons, producers are counseled to consider supplemention of the dam’s colostrum with a proven,  high quality colostrum supplement.
Not only are kids born immunity free, but like most other mammals, they are also born with a sterile digestive tract. This affords an opportunity for pathogens to easily be introduced along with beneficial micro flora. The goal at this stage is to quickly populate the gut with a variety of beneficial microbes, thereby decreasing the opportunity for pathogens. Supplementing the dam’s colostrum with live cultures of Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus  acidophilus, Streptococcus faecium, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus formuntum and Lactobacillus plantarum has proven helpful.
An often neglected aspect of metabolic function is body temperature. When the body temperature drops below optimum levels, metabolic functions , microflora gut populations and survival behaviors also decrease. When situations present  themselves that decrease energy or substantially increase energy demand, additional nutritional support is needed. A special formula utilizing omega-3 fatty acids, because of their concentrated energy and ease of digestion, fortified with a balance of vitamins and miners will give the boost needed at those times. Magnesium, phosphorus and manganese are also highly effective in energy production.
During stage three, nursing, one of the most widespread problems encountered is the inability of kids to tolerate milk replacer. Goat’s milk has some very unique characteristics and the kid’s enzyme system is uniquely designed to digest this special milk. When goat’s milk is not fed, problems with digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates are possible and probable. don’t be fooled simply because a company has labeled a milk replacer as kid milk replacer. There is currently only one milk replacer on the market specifically formulated to closely resemble the goat milk profile and provide the additional digestive enzymes necessary. If traditional milk replacers are used, special enzymes are required to minimize the digestive upset. It is also worthwhile to remember that when a kid is receiving natural goat’s milk for the dam, it is also continuing to receive immunoglobulins that provide passive immunity. When a substitute for this valuable food is used, passive immunity is absent. It is important to provide additional support both for passive immunity from a colostrum source and to provide the additional nutritional support to lay a strong foundation for the active immunity system to develop. Copper and iron are especially involved the production of blood components.
A kid’s immature respiratory system is particularly susceptible to assaults from high ammonia level. Decreasing ammonia rates increases respiratory function. This can be accomplished by alterations of manure management and products that decrease ammonia levels.
The developmental goals during stage four, weaning, are to successfully alter gut microflora from digestion of milk to plant derived protein, fat and carbohydrates. Since microflora are specific in their task , milk digesting microbes will need to decrease while plant digesting microbes increase.  While this shift is taking place, pathogens need to be held in check by introducing large numbers of beneficial microbes plus acid producing microbes.
Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, correct forms, in proper ratio and in a palatable pellet, must be presented for protein metabolism. Additional flavorings may be helpful, but caution should be used with the excessive use of molasses.

The growth stage, draws attention to the rate of physiological development along with proper muscle to fat ration and maximizing the rate of gain. Macro and micro nutrients must be in proper balance to reach maximum genetic potential for meat production. Rations balanced by caprine professionals are key in this stage. For example, ration deficient in manganese can lead to unbalanced growth that causes contracted tendons.
Male goats are particularly susceptible to urinary calculi (water belly), therefore, it is common practice to acidify feed with ammoniated salts.  Field experience indicates there is strong evidence to suggest that ammoniated salts, when fed to preruminates, have a blunting effect on the papiliae of the rumen. When the papiliae are blunted, digestive absorption of nutrients is decreased. Usually this is an irreversible condition. Acidification can be accomplished using special organic acidifiers that have no adverse affects on rumen papiliae.

Stage six, the adult finisher, encompasses the market goat and show stock. the goal with market animals is to maximize muscle development and daily rate of gain.  By increasing nutrient assimilation through direct fed microbial this goal is achieved. Show stock has the added demand of an excellent hair coat and ‘bloom’. Skin and hair have high zinc demands. If zinc is in short supply, skin and hair have a lower priority and rough, dry coats result. Zinc increase hair luster and skin condition.
Another additional challenge commonly presented at this stage is shipping and travel. It is well recognized that shipping and travel puts additional pressure on the health and well-being of the animal. Microbial populations and pH levels shift and the goat’s body demands certain vitamin levels. Field experience indicates that direct fed microbials and B vitamins help the animal with shipping stress.
The goat in stage seven, adult breeder, has specific needs associated with reproduction. When wanting to nourish reproductive tissue and to ensure response, additional level of bioavailable zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt are needed. Also proper levels of phosphorus, magnesium and potassium are important. Calcium can cause decreased breeding efficiency and testicular degeneration. Phosphorus deficiency increases the tendency toward decreased breeding efficiency, testicular degeneration, decreased ovarian activity, small corpora lutea. anestrus. delayed on set of puberty and depressed fertility. Delayed onset of puberty and anestrus can be signs of molybdenum excess white depressed libido in bucks can be rooted in iodine deficiency. Cystic ovaries, abnormal estrus, delayed testicular development, small testicles and testicular atrophy have all been linked to zinc deficiencies.

An animal is such a dynamic system with nutritional components so interrelated that it is difficult to isolate those that contribute to a certain system or perform a certain task. While it is worthwhile to understand the interactions and nuances of goat nutrients, it is most important to consistently feed correctly balanced, highly bioavailable nutrition. don’t be fooled into believing that a blend of grain coupled with a beef, sheep, or swine vitamin/mineral mixture will adequately meet the needs of the goat.  There are no substitutes for excellent genetics, nutrition and management. A weakness in any of these three vital areas will give less than desirable result.
Of the three, nutritional information for and professional attention to the goat industry has been conspicuous by its absence. Producers will need to educate themselves to the point they are able to dissect a feed tag and determine the nutritional value of nutritional supplements.
Excellent goat products do exist. It will be up to the producer to be able to recognize them.

This is for educational purposes only and does not replace the proper diagnosis and treatment resulting from a recognized and documented veterinarian client relationship. This information is provided without any warranty, implied or otherwise. No part of this document may be used for commercial purposes . This document cannot be used in any form unless written permission is provided by the author. Please contact INTI Service at 641-752-3064 for further information regarding the use of any part of this document.