Basic Dietary needs of a goat?

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by StaceyRosado, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    Per the request of a user I am compiling a list of threads that have information that would be helpful for new goat raisers.

    One of the suggestions was for "what to feed my goats" But I dont think we already have a thread dedication to this so I figured I would make one.

    Please list the basic needs for a goat's diet and why and how to accomplish this (iie where to get it and brands you recommend etc).
  2. sparks879

    sparks879 New Member

    A good quality hay is the first thing for ANY goat. Now different goat require different ty;es of hay. I prefere an orchard alfalfa mix for my milkers, growing kids tend to get more alfalfa and the bucks get the same as my does. I suppliment my does with alfalfa pellets.
    AS for grain i mix my own because i dont like all the extras and un known ingredients in pre mixed grains. A good mineral suppliment is order. I use purina goat mineral.
    Browse is also important. Make sure no toxic plants are around though.

  3. liz

    liz Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    Sparks covered the basics, I'll just add that it would be best to check out goat farms in your area to see where they get their hay and feeds, this way you'll know what is readily available to you.
  4. RunAround

    RunAround New Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    Also, Goats should NOT be fed sheep grain. It does not have copper in it and can/will cause copper deficiency.
  5. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    Goats do better with a loose mineral instead of a mineral block.

    Loose minerals I recomend are: Purina goat minerals, Top Choice - by Southern States, Golden Blend, Sweetlix meat maker

    Check your local feed stores for what brands they carry and sometimes you can have them special order the minerals if they carry the brand.

    Hay should be their main diet with grain being a supplement especialy for pregnant or lactating does. Young kids should get grain as they grow but if you dont plant to ever breed you can cut out grain almost if not entirely from their diet around a year old.

    Wethers dont need grain -- this can possibly lease to UC (urinary calculi- ie kidney stones) in some wethers.

    If you own wethers or bucks I suggest feeding a grain and/or mineral that has Ammonium Chloride in it (AC for short). You can also purchase AC from hoeggars goat supply and its a really cheep insurance to have handy. The instructions for use are provided when you purchase it.
  6. pennylullabelle

    pennylullabelle New Member

    Okay, I am really new to goats...I've owned my girls about a week! But here is what I've learned in school (I'm pre-vet, equine science), internet research, books, and on here (of course!).

    Hay - if your goats aren't on a pasture they need hay. A nice green pasture of mostly alfalfa with some grass (such as timothy/orchard) is great. But I don't have that, so I feed my goats the same alfalfa hay I feed my horses. It is high protein and very leafy. My goats like to dip their tongues in the leaves then eat those rather then chew the stems :) How we feed is important too. Goats like to eat off bushes and such, rather then off the ground. Plus they will usually just "go" where they are standing - even if they are eating. So, parasite infestation could occur more easily. I feed in a feeder mounted on my fence line with a grate to keep the hay from going all over.

    Minerals: its been mentioned that the loose minerals are better then the blocks. I agree - the loose have higher levels of copper and selenium which are both necessary for optimal health in goats. I am currently trying Sweetlix, but will evaluate other brands in time. Free choice.

    Baking soda, free choice again. I haven't yet learned the benefits of this supplement, but I offer it based on many suggestions.

    Yeast - not vital, but encourages bacteria growth in the rumen. I have not tried this, don't plan too either.

    Grain - not needed for whethers (as mentioned, increases the chance of kidney stones). Good for pregnant and nursing does, but when given too much early on in pregnancy does can grow bigger kids so go easy to start. In moderation of bucks as well. Great for kids until you've determined if you want to breed them, not needed if they'll be raised as pets. I am currently trying Purina Goat Chow and next will try Manna Pro to decide which I like more. these are the only two brands readily available to me (without having to ship).

    Water - always free choice clean fresh water!

    Not sure if I said anything that hasn't been said, but it's all good stuff to know!
  7. pennylullabelle

    pennylullabelle New Member

    Wanted to ad an update: baking soda encourages balance in the bacteria in the rumen. Thus, we offer it free feed. Also, it's good to feed when goats are having stomach issues like signs of bloat. Should be balled up; with water like paste and force fed in emergencies.
  8. CrossCreekTX

    CrossCreekTX New Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Central East Texas
    If you have a good balance of pasture and browse you may not have to buy feed. Do watch the condition of the pasture and rotate the goats between paddocks. I like to take mine for a walk daily so they can choose optimal feed and take some of the pressure off the paddock. They are pretty fat without additional grain or hay. Of course they swear they will starve if they can't get to the chicken feed. LOL
  9. farmergal

    farmergal New Member

    Jun 19, 2009
    Northern California
    I currently feed my pregnant does and doelings alfalfa in the morning (enough to last until the afternoon), plus a handful per goat of a combination of grain (the goat chow I use is by Manna Pro) and black oil sunflower seeds. The ratio isn't too scientific -- I currently use 6 handfuls of grain and 2 of BOSS, mix it together, and feed it to the goats.

    Then, in the afternoon, they get an oat/rye/orchard combination hay to munch on. If I'm not going to be home in the afternoon, I put it all together and leave them plenty to last the whole day. But I've found that if I feed the alfalfa and oat/rye together, the goats tend to waste a lot more hay since of course they prefer the alfalfa leaves to everything else! And then suddenly my pasture shelter is 2 feet deep in wasted grass hay. What can you do? :shrug:

    I also supplement this feed with bits from the garden -- they love old broccoli plants and cabbages, leafs of kale and chard, and pumpkins. Recently they enjoyed trimmings from our Doug Fir Christmas Tree (why is it that trees always look smaller at the farm, and so much bigger in your living room? the one I picked was 2 feet too tall!). They also have free choice Purina goat minerals. I haven't noticed any bloat issues but if I do I'll start putting out free choice baking soda too.

    I am very interested in mixing my own grain, which someone mentioned. If anyone mixes their own grain I would love to hear about it on this thread -- what ratios you use, etc!

    (Disclaimer -- I've only had my goats for half a year, so take this with a grain of salt! But, all my girls seem to be healthy and happy with nice shiny coats so it seems to work for me, so far.)
  10. sealawyer

    sealawyer New Member

    May 31, 2009
    Dew, Texas
    As a commercial (?) breeder of 90+ Boers and Boer X I have to think about the cost of inputs. Will seeding for forage be more cost effective than feeding? In my case, yes, so we seeded with austrian winter peas and purple topped turnips to provide winter forage and don't mow or spray the rye grass and clovers until after the seed heads have opened. We use a weed killer that will not kill off certain plantings such as bahia grass and sericea lespedeza and bermuda grass, our primary summer pasture grasses. A 50 lb. sack of cargill onyx or emerald cow mineral is cheaper by the pound than sweetlyx meat maker, so we use that and our goats gobble it up! And it has more copper and selinium than SMM. Many say that the crystalyx goat tubs aren't cost effective, but it helps the goats' rumens process the stuff they eat due to the added yeasts and bacterium, so they do process what they eat better. We feed the bucks a balanced goat kibble, Pilgrim's Show Pro 17% and mineral and tub. We feed the nannies w/kids Acco Boer & Meat Goat, which is 16%. Right now the nannies without kids get hay, tubs, mineral during the day plus whatever they can forage. They get whole cottonseed free-choice when they come into the pens at night. Do not feed WCS to kids because their rumens aren't developed enough yet!
    The WCS will keep the nannies fat and slick all winter, just be ready to do a lot of shoveling and toting!
  11. Well it looks like you have good info here. I will list my mix for folks. This is for a MEAT breed but can be modified for dairy. I do know horses can eat this but I do add my mineral which you would not want in with horses.

    The feed looks like this...

    500lbs Chipped corn
    350lbs Oat Pellets
    150lbs Soybean MEAL (Great for protein)
    100lbs Wet Molasses
    8lbs Salt (Double in the summer 16lbs)
    17lbs Calcium
    35lbs BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds) -- Needed in ALL goat feed for selenium. You will never see Floppy kid syndrome with this in your feed.
    Other reasons Boss is good,

    The BOSS is good for many things..
    1. The roughage they get off the shells
    2. The oils they get from them are good for the hair coats
    3. The proteins they get out of the entire seed/shell
    4. The Natural Selenium that they contain
    5. The added assistance of being a part of the natural worming process. (doesn't mean that they won't get worms, because they will, but research shows that they are good to help prevent worms).
    6. Added weight when weight is needed.

    50lbs Soybean Hulls (Great for Fiber)
    35lbs Goat Mineral (Which has the Copper needed in Goats)
    4lbs ammonium chloride (Very Important for farms with boys, this will keep from having the stones and urinary problems that can come with any feed)
    Vitamins A,D, and E (Very Important...)

    Fast Track is another good thing to add to any diet. More so on goats trying to bounce back or get some weight but works wonders to help digestion and help the body absorb the nutrients it is take in. This often results in feeding less food as your goats will not need as much food. We here at Gray Robin Ranch go on and off of this to make sure the goats are at the weight I like them to be at.
  12. GotmygoatMTJ

    GotmygoatMTJ New Member

    We give all of our goats grain no matter what gender or what they are missing in breeding wise. Our wethers get grain. I have a 3 year old wether who has been on grain all of his life and he has no problems whatsoever.

    We feed a low quality twiggy, leafy grass hay that has some timothy in it. We give about a half a bale a day to feed 12 goats on in the field. They are on about an acre and half of grass that is short right now.

    My feed mix contains

    100lbs Mare and Foal horse feed
    100lbs KH medicated goat feed
    10lbs Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
    25lbs Cracked corn
    20lbs Whole corn
    And wet mollases which im not sure how much...
    We also buy Manna Pro Goat Balancer and give each goat 1oz in their grain.
    We sprinkle baking soda and sweetlix loose mineral into the grain also.

    Along with that, like jdgray, we feed Fastrack which is a Microbial feed supplement powder. But we feed it everyday and mix it in with the grain we are feeding that day.

    1oz for pregnant and nursing does
    .50oz for nonnursing or pregnant does
    .25oz for bucks, kids, and wethers
  13. ENC

    ENC New Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    NE OK
    I use good quality hay and my feed is a 6:3:1 mix of goat chow, cracked corn and BOSS. I will also give all fruit and vegetable peelings that I have from that day.

  14. farmgirl42

    farmgirl42 New Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    Eastern Ohio
    How much pasture is needed per goat in the summer to NOT need to supplement with hay? Specifically a standard-size dairy goat?
  15. Rule of thumb is 8 goats an acre. Keep in mind this also depends on what you have on your acre for forage. Goats are not grazers, though they will graze as they are animals of survival. The breed will play a role too as dairy in milk will eat more then a meat goat, a doe with kids will eat more, and so on. Hope that helps.
  16. farmgirl42

    farmgirl42 New Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    Eastern Ohio
    Yes, it does help.
    Thanks! :hi5:
  17. Rogersfarm

    Rogersfarm Member

    Jan 24, 2010
    Southeast Texas
    What about the medicated goat feed that they sell at feed stores? Is that safe to feed to Bucks, Does, and Wethers? I was told that the medication was to prevent UC, but will it hurt to feed them that all the time?

    And what other dietery needs do I need to be meeting seperately, that the medicated goat feed doesnt meet. Other than hay of course.

    And I dont know if it matters of not, but I am refering to Pygmy/Nigi mixes.
  18. ENC

    ENC New Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    NE OK
    As far as I know the medication in the feed is to prevent Coccidiosis not UC, but I know several who feed it all the time.

  19. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    are you goats under 6 months old? if not then medicated feed it not necessary for them. Medicated feed jsut like Evan said is for coccidia. Some medicated feed will also have Ammonium Chloride in it to aid against UC

    Your best bet if you have bucks or wethers is to buy AC from like hoeggars supply and add it to their feed or their minerals.

    Top CHoice goat mineral by Southern States has the AC in it already.

    You need hay - grass hay will do just fine or a grass mix - and a good loose mineral for you goats. See my post on page one for the listing of minerals

    if you have any other questions submit a new topic and ask those specific questions. That way this stays as information only thanks :thumb:
  20. MsScamp

    MsScamp New Member

    Jan 31, 2010
    Well, hay is the first basic need. But one has to be careful what type of hay is being fed, and when it being fed - for example, alfalfa contains a high amount of calcium and can interfere with the does ability to produce calcium. It is also easily digestible, carries a high protein content, and is tantamount to flushing a doe with grain if the hay is high quality. If fed throughout the year, it can not only cause milk fever when she kids, it can also cause first time doelings to have a higher number of kids than they can support - depending on when one breeds their first timers. Feeding straight grass hay, on the other hand, can cause ketosis and pregnancy toxemia due to the lower protein, lower digestibility, and lack of energy. If one chooses to go this route, it probably should be supplemented with a little grain - say 1/2 lb or so, once a day - depending on whether one is raising meat goats or dairy goats. Mineral is very important, and should be supplied in a loose form and free choice. I personally would not go with any mineral that contains salt at more than 10-15% because salt is often used as a limiter in feeds and can prevent the does from getting all the mineral they need. I use Sweetlyx MeatMaker mineral and my does love it. If in doubt that they are getting enough salt, put out a seperate tub of plain old salt and see how much they eat. I also have a problem with mineral and salt blocks, because the does do not get what they need because of the amount of licking required. Loose mineral and loose salt is always better. Another thing to be aware of is that goats need extra copper, and the potasium/calcium ratio needs to be 2 to 1. Oh - another thing - don't feed bucks straight alfalfa hay because the calcium in it tends to cause urinary calculi. My bucks get alfalfa only a few weeks prior to breeding, during breeding, and for a few weeks post breeding to help get them back in shape as I don't feed grain. This is what I've learned, and I hope it helps. :)