The trick to feeding goats

July 29, 2015

Goats may seem to eat anything and everything, but that's not exactly the healthiest choice. Here's some foods to keep your goats  happy and healthy.

The trick to feeding goats

The dry doe diet

  • Good-quality forage will satisfy almost all the nutritional needs of dry (non-milking) does.
  • A goat's pasture should include a variety of leaves, branches, weeds and tough grasses to supply essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
  • Legumes are also needed, since they provide much-needed protein.
  • When pasturage is unavailable, feed well-cured alfalfa hay.
  • Goats won't eat hay off the ground, so place it in a rack or manger, or hang it in bundles from the walls.

Food for better milk

  • Unlike a dry doe, a milking doe needs additional protein from a mixed-grain supplement in its diet.
  • The average amount of feed is between one and two kilograms (two and four pounds) of grain per day, in two evenly spaced feedings.
  • Top producers will need more feed than poor ones.
  • A combination of alfalfa chaff, oats and wheat bran, mixed with some soybean oil meal or cottonseed oil meal, is the most common supplement.
  • Molasses is often added for extra moisture, sweetness and vitamins.
  • If a good-quality, fresh pre-mixed feed is not available, buy a calf starter or horse-grain mixture.

Avoid overfeeding

  • Overfeeding on grain is dangerous. It can lead to less efficient digestion of roughage and, in extreme cases, cause a serious buildup of gases that can cause death.
  • To prevent overeating, feed the grain only after the goats have eaten plenty of grass or hay.
  • Place the goats in separate stalls, or lock them in separate feeding slots in front of a common manger to be sure that each gets only its own ration.
  • A goat's stomach can also be disturbed by changes in its diet, so feed your animals at the same time each day, and make any dietary changes very gradually.
  • This is especially important when changing from wintertime hay to spring pasturage.

Provide plenty of water

Plenty of fresh, clean water is important to any milk-producing animal. The more a goat drinks, the more feed will be converted into milk instead of body fat. Change the water twice daily when you feed grain, unless you have an automatic waterer.

To raise goats properly, they need a nutritious diet. Be sure to keep an eye on what they eat and the products you take could be much tastier and plentiful.

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