Feeding goats without EVER buying commercial feed

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by yeshuaisiam, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. yeshuaisiam

    yeshuaisiam New Member

    Jan 24, 2012
    Considering in most of history of humankind, all the way to biblical days and before, obviously people did not have local feed stores or ways to get hay imported very easily. Yet the goats lived and produced milk. (proverbs 27:27 for example)

    So I'm curious if anybody does this today. We are new to goats, but not new to livestock. We have chickens that are COMPLETELY grass/bug fed and they are FLOURISHING wonderfully. In fact when we fed them commercial food, they did not have as shiny feathers, did not run, and were not nearly as active. When we switched we noticed an immediate difference.

    So here is the game plan. I have some local plants & hay that I believe that goats will like.

    #1 Cedar. Plenty of BUSHY cedar around here.
    #2 Bermuda hay + Other grasses & clover. Plenty of that around here too.
    #3 We have a 40' X 40' pen they mostly stay in. The entire thing is woven wire. We are going to grow honeysuckle vines all up and down the fences for them to forage on.
    #4 We have 5 acres full of cedar trees, grasses, weeds, cactus?, along with plenty of forage area.
    #5 We have a garden, with many corn husks and sunflowers
    #6 Wandering Jew (edible to humans, a purple plant sometimes used in salads & rabbits love it)

    After the goats forage on the cedar branches we either cut for them and hang for them, we will be chipping it for bedding for their night time barn.

    How does this sound? Is there anybody else feeding their goats ONLY what they have available and relying the creation (as did people all through history) to provide for their goats without spending $ at the feed store for feed?

  2. TheMixedBag

    TheMixedBag The Hoofcare and Repro specialist

    Oct 16, 2010
    Glencoe, OK
    I'm sort of doing something similar. The only extras I feed are alfalfa (not sure where it's from but it's natural) and the occasional bag of alfalfa pellets made from the local mill. Otherwise it's all browse and grass, primarily bermuda, elm and cedar.

  3. Goat Song

    Goat Song Senior Member who ain't so Senior

    May 4, 2011
    You do have to remember that the goats in biblical times were much different from today's goats. In those days, a goat only gave about 1 quart to 1/2 gallon per day, whereas today it's common for one goat to give 1 gallon. So a grass based diet it much more difficult for them. That being said, a grass based dairy animal is entirely possible with the right feed and genetics. just don't expect a lot of milk from the first generation of animals. Have you ever thought about feeding sprouted grain to them? Once the grain is sprouted, it has an entirely different effect from grain, but still keeps milk supply up (and often times increases it). Not to mention it's dirt cheap to feed them that way!
  4. as long as they have access to many types of forage year round you should be ok. Yes before feed stores goats did just fine but generally they were left to graze large expanses full of all sorts of good stuff. Or wild goats have unlimited area to roam to find what their bodies need.
  5. KW Farms

    KW Farms Moderator Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2008
    Wapato, WA
  6. boeredinoh

    boeredinoh New Member

    Sep 3, 2009
    This sounds like a really neat idea!!

    However, i would still suggest that you provide the goats with free choice mineral. In the area i live, the soil is selenium deficient, that makes all the forage deficient as well. So they cannot receive everything they need just by browsing.
  7. jaycee

    jaycee Senior Member

    Aug 3, 2011
    Alton, IL
    I love the honeysuckle idea along the sides of the pen. I mistakenly planted a grapevine along the side of the pen on the opposite side of the fence. Worked out well for the goats, not so much for the grapevine... and the goats eat honeysuckle from the fences whenever they are in the pasture I just wonder if I could get the vines large enough to sustain themselves before the goats picked them clean...

    How and where do you raise the wandering Jew? I have it in a couple hanging baskets and I know it easily takes root from shoots and spreads fast in summer months, but is not hardy...
  8. DDFN

    DDFN Active Member

    Jul 31, 2011
    East TN
    Honeysuckles are also considered a natural wormer for goats.
  9. Itchysmom

    Itchysmom New Member

    Apr 2, 2010
    During the spring through fall, my goats get grass pasture/browse and do very well. Since this will be the first year they will have free run and I will also be milking late fall through winter this year, I will have to feed hay...mostly grass with some alfalfa, and some grain while in milk. That is because they will be penned up, there will be snow, and it will be cold. If I was milking during the summer, which I plan to change next year, I am going to try to just let them out on pasture and see how the milk production and body weight will be.

    I was going to plant some hops on their pen fence...is this an OK thing for them to eat?
  10. packhillboers

    packhillboers Senior Member

    I think it is a great idea if you can manage to do it on your property. In the history of goats and sheep- they wandered the lands, browzed and grazed on new clean areas. So that type of herd management is hard to do in most areas now but some are doing it quite successfully. I think it would be great if we could get these animals back to a more natural diet of forage. We have very little forage on our 6 acres to keep goats healthy and have to supplement with minerals and extra feed.
  11. Hobbyfarmer

    Hobbyfarmer New Member

    Sep 7, 2011
    Mapleton Utah
    What type of goats are you planning on keeping? Some a much better at foraging and food conversion. How many will you keep? Those 2 factors will have a large impact on your success. I absolutely think you can do it with proper management. But I also know my 2 Nubian does can devour a 40x40 area in no time. maybe consider using an electric fence and doing pasture rotation. This is good for plant regrowth and parasite management. Best of luck with your planning and research.
  12. lissablack

    lissablack New Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    I hope you will be prepared to buy food for them if they don't have enough. It sounds like a neat idea, but I had to retrieve a starving goat from people I had given her to last year. So keep your eyes open to their condition. It's hard to see sometimes because you are looking at them every day.
  13. yeshuaisiam

    yeshuaisiam New Member

    Jan 24, 2012
    Wandering Jew will grow just about in any partially shaded area. It's real easy for it to take root.

    The Honeysuckle will be planted about 8 inches away from the wooden fence, and just be allowed to grow up on it. It will be approx 138ft of honeysuckle growth as we have MANY cuttings that we will be transplanting. The honeysuckle grows wonderfully around here.

    I think we are planning on 2 nubian does, and 1 nubian buck (in the future) left in a different pen and brought in for breeding.

    We are heavily considering raising goats this way (of course with backup food on the side if needed) because of the WONDERFUL results we have with our chickens going grass & bug fed / quasi free range. Our chickens are SO much more healthy this way.

    Ironically the idea came after going on a raw food diet for us, and we lost a ton of weight and it cured all kinds of health issues in us personally. So that led to thinking about the lazy chickens, and lo and behold, they are incredibly active, shiny feathers, and happier than ever.

    However, we are inexperienced in goats, (not cows or horses). But we really want to try to go as "natural" as possible with food from our own land. We'll be sure to post results and come in for pointers.
  14. Devin

    Devin New Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    I think it can be mostly accomplished, IF you have the resources . . . but most people don't have the land or the time! And time is a huge factor in growing crops, grains and forages. We have our own garden yearly and even though it "saves" money, it takes SO MUCH TIME that if it were not for the fact we love fresh vegetables it would not be worth it monetarily because our time is money . . . .

    I am hugely guilty of trying to save money and end up spending more in resources to be 'self sufficient" than if we had just bought something. However, a lot of the choices I make are also for health and not just for convienience. Goats are a PRIME example ROFL!