Goat Nutrition


Managing Goat Nutrition: What You Need To Know A Simple Guide
Managing Goat Nutrition: What You Need To Know A Simple Guide
Felicity McCullough



Food For Goats Discussed

A goat's diet, of course, is based on vegetation. Goats are ruminants, which mean they have four "stomachs".

The first of the stomachs, the rumen, is basically a fermentation vat full of microorganisms, which break down the normally un-digestible cellulose, within tough vegetation.

This is the secret as to why goats, cows and sheep can digest plants that other animals, including humans, cannot.

This is also the reason why any dietary changes must be made gradually, in order to give these microorganisms time to adjust.

Goats are browsers, which means they prefer to eat with raised heads instead of lowered, contrary to sheep.

They also prefer a varied diet with lots of fibre.

Thus, the best option for goats is to create a feed consisting of various feedstuffs.

Pelleted food is a viable option that would provide all the necessary nutrients, but goats may not eat it at adequate levels.

Goats are very fussy eaters, they won't eat food that has been stepped on by other goats. They will also pick through the food for their favourites, often leaving the healthiest stuff behind.

The main component of a goat's diet should be hay. Hay is roughage, which is very important for goats.

There are two main types of hay: legume hay and grass hay.

In general, legume hay such as alfalfa, clover and lespedeza have more energy.

Hay types suitable for goats include: Alfalfa, Bermuda, Birdsfoot trefoil, Brome, Fescue early, Fescue bloom, Red Clover, Mixed Grass, Johnson Grass, Soybean early and Timothy early.

The levels of nutrients are variable though, depending on when the hay was made; in other words, if the plants were harvested when young or old.

Environmental factors such as humidity also play a part.

Also, hay should contain more leaves than stems and of course should not be yellow, or brown, or contain toxic plants, or other trash. 

The other feed option is concentrate. As the name suggests, this has a concentrated amount of nutrients and energy.

Lightly rolled oats, steamed cooked flaked barley, flaked maize, cooked and flaked peas, linseed cake, lucerne, sunflower and soya are all examples of concentrate feeds.

Suitable Grains for goats: Barley, Buckwheat, Dent Corn, Linseed Meal, Cane Molasses, Oats, Field Peas, Pumpkin Seed, Rye, Soybeans, Wheat and Wheat Bran.

There exists carbonaceous concentrates and proteinaceous concentrates.

Carbonaceous concentrates are rich in carbohydrates, which give energy and include such cereal grains and by-products as corn, barley, wheat, oats, milo, rye, soybean hulls and wheat middlings.

Proteinaceous concentrates are rich in proteins and include chick peas, soybean meal, cottonseed meal and fishmeal. 

Speaking of milk production, it is very important to know what your goats are eating, because the milk goats produce can be tainted by certain foods.  For example, bananas, onions and garlic will all alter the taste of milk you get from your goats.

This is why it is often suggested that milk goats are not kept in pasture, instead they should be fed by the goat keepers, so that exactly what they eat is known and closely controlled.

It is important that food be offered in appropriate containers and receptacles, which are clean and disinfected regularly.

Food must also be stored properly, protected from the damp, contamination and vermin.

Hay should be off the ground on pallets, for example, and well covered.

Also important is to ensure that there is adequate space for all goats at the feeding trough.

Goat herds have a hierarchy, which means the more dominant goats will eat first and will gorge all of the concentrate, if there's not enough space for all of the goats.

Some suitable fodder types for goats: Green Alflafa Early Bloom, Bermuda Grass Pasture, Cabbage, Carrots, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mangel Beets, Parsnips, Pumpkins with seeds, Rutabagas, and Turnips.

Goats love banana skins, apple and carrots, yet these will taint the milk.

Felicity McCullough  
2nd March 2016  

Managing Goat Nutrition: What You Need To Know A Simple Guide
Managing Goat Nutrition: What You Need To Know A Simple Guide
Felicity McCullough

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