An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of feeding highly condensed tannin legume (sericea lespedeza, SL; Lespedeza cuneata) forage on gastrointestinal tract microbial counts and meat quality in goats. Intact male Spanish kids were kept in 0.40 ha paddocks of SL, bermudagrass (BG; Cynodon dactylon; control), or a combination of SL + BG (n = 10 goats per treatment group) for 8 wk. All goats were supplemented with a commercial feed pellet at 0.45 kg·head−1·d−1 for the first 4 wk and 0.23 kg·head−1·d−1 for the final 4 wk of the trial. At the end of the experiment, half the goats from each paddock were subjected to 3 h transportation stress, then all animals were humanely slaughtered. Diet or stress did not have a significant effect on skin Escherichia coli, coliform, or aerobic plate counts, and carcass, rumen, and fecal bacterial counts. Muscle pH at 24 h postmortem tended (P = 0.06) to be higher in transported compared with non-transported goats. The results indicate that SL consumption by goats for 8 wk did not significantly affect gastrointestinal tract, skin, and carcass microbial counts or meat quality, although preslaughter stress could influence meat quality due to changes in the course of postmortem pH decline.
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