You can find goats all around the world. Goats, being ruminants, are not just curious and intelligent animals, but also very picky eaters.
With cloven hooves, goats are the mammals that has horns and fur all around their body. Being one of the first-ever animals to be tamed, people use goats for meat, milk, for carrying of goods and even as a pet from one region to another. Across the country, India has around 140 million goats.
Young Goat Stage
The primary objective is always to take good care of kids to reduce early deaths and enhance health. The baby goat must feed on its mother soon after birth. The first milk is not only high in nutrients but also has immune-building properties.
Colostrum is the one and only source rich-in immunoglobulin and nutrients for the newborns. Colostrum gradually changes to regular milk within 2 to 3 days.
After about two or three days, the kids need to be fed milk at least 2 or 3 times per day. As it is the only food source for young kids, it also protects them from various diseases.
For younger goat kids, milk is the only source of food. You can also bottle feed the colostrum if the kid is having trouble feeding on the mother. And for the first feed, it should always be within an hour. Keep the chemically-treated colostrum at a cool place to achieve best quality out of it.
At the time of birth of a kid, they look for doe’s teats and udders. When the teat’s colostrum goes into the mouth, the kids get a taste. Once they identify it, they find it themselves from then on and start feeding on it.
But sometimes, the doe milk is not enough for kids to give them proper nutrition. Sometimes, even the doe rejects feeding their baby due to some problem, because of which, it is not able to produce milk.
Irrespective of the reason, to provide enough nutrition to the goats kid, you might need to bottle feed them. But, while bottle feeding, try to follow the same schedule and required quantity only to avoid the disastrous side-effects of overfeeding like diarrhea, bloating and even vomiting.
Thus keep a track of the quantity you are feeding them and the exact time of feeding.
Day 1: colostrum should contain 10% of the goat’s body weight.
Day 2 to 10 : 4- 6oz / 4-5x per day .
Day 11 to 21: 7-12oz / 3-4x per day.
Day 21 to till their weaning: 12 to 16 oz for at least 3 times a day.
Also Read: Goat Terminology: Terms that Every Goat Owner Should Know
Young Adult Stage
After two weeks, a good feeding schedule will allow kids to get the right amount of nutrition from the food. You can also provide soft grass to these offsprings, as they are easy to chew and eat.
At this time, you can also start introducing some grains and hay into the diet. Adding some water to it will reduce the requirement of milk to be given to the kids.
When they are 3 to 8 weeks old, you can provide up to a liter of milk up to two times daily. This is also the correct time to introduce the young goats to adult feeds but in little and measured amounts.
Adult goats need at least 2-4 pounds of food per day. Goats can also eat cabbages, carrots, and some other kitchen scraps.
Grains are the ideal source for required proteins and minerals. Grains are a massive source of carbons and proteins. And also provide vitamin and mineral supplements.
Apart from this, you can feed them with grass, branches and various tree leaves as well. As a goat feed, there are four different kinds of grains available.
- Whole grains: To improve the efficiency and growth rate of your goats, you can feed them with grains like wheat, barley or corn.
- Rolled grains: You can also Roll Whole grains into flat flakes.
- Texturized grains: Whole grains when mixed with other grains to improve their quality is known as Texturized grains.
Carrot which is rich in fibre and vitamins can be a perfect feed for goats. Carrots are a healthy diet for them as well. They can eat 3 kg of cabbages, carrots, and all the kitchen scrap you have like vegetable peels. They also like banana peels, grapes, and oranges.
Although grapes and oranges are safe for goats, too much protein is not recommended. Even corn is a good option of food for goats. As a daily food supplement, you can feed them at least 2 to 3 cups of corn.
You can also feed watermelon, which is full of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, as a treat and always when fresh.
Generally, goats love to eat pasture, greens, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. And they also love to eat snacks. Be careful not to feed them poisonous fruits as it can affect their health and can even cause their death.
Feeding too much or very little both can be harmful to the goat. So, for the right balance of nutrition, you can follow the below recommendations:
Much like that for human beings, goats also need ample amounts of vitamins in their daily food. This will enhance better growth and good health in them. Vitamin C, B1, B12, A, E, D, and K are essential vitamins for goats.
Water is undeniably essential for all beings, and it’s the same for goats too. Always try to keep a bowl full of water near their shed or stay, so they can drink whenever they feel like. It also helps to digest food and milk production.
Make sure to use a water heater in winter to avoid freezing cold water for goats. They drink about 3.5liters of water every time milk is produced.
When a doe is pregnant and the season is hot, goats require more water. Even when they are eating hay instead of grass, they require more water than usual.
Also Read: What Is the Average Goat Lifespan?
Energy and Protein
Fat is efficiently used for energy. They can even get enough energy from grains and bran. It can prove to be beneficial for goats to include these in their daily feeding schedule.
Moreover, proteins are one of the most critical components in a goat’s diet plan. Always try to include lots of leafy forages and cottonseed, which are a great source of protein.
The minerals in a goat feed help in bone growth and also keeps them free from stress. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, copper, and salt (sodium chloride) are essential minerals for goats.
Pelleted supplements are a good source of minerals and vitamins. Animals have enough protein in order to cover up the nutrient requirement in their body.
Grains give two elements which are Carbon and Protein. If you cannot find a good feed of goats, you can provide a suitable grain course. Cereal grain includes barley, corn, rye, and oats. They have a large rumen that feels like a sponge.
Goats can get all the primary nutrients they need via hay. Hay includes grass or Alfalfa or clover.
Varieties of Hay
- Alfalfa Hay: If you want a good energy source for fibre and milk goats, then must consider Alfalfa hay. In a day, you can feed goats 4 kgs of hay. It’s the right choice for feeding milkers. It includes more energy, protein, and even calcium. Animals love alfalfa hay.
- Bermuda: This is excellent flavored hay and animals like the taste of it.
- Oat Hay: Oat hay is hardy hay, and it can be higher in sugar- not a good option for animals. It has a thicker and tougher stalk than the other options.
- Timothy: Another hay high in fibre and low in calcium is Timothy Hay. Plants That Are Poisonous for Goats
Especially for goats, the digestive system is slightly complicated. Some plants are toxic for their digestive system.
- Berries: Inkberry, Baneberry, Chinaberry.
- Weeds: Milkweed, Stagger weed, Red weed, Buckwheat, and Sneezeweed.
- Grass: Sorghum, Velvetgrass, Sudangrass, Johnson grass.
- Cherries: Black cherry, Poppy, Corn Cockle, Lily, Poison ivy, etc.
- Potato Weed.
What to Feed Goats in Winter?
In this season, forage is the primary source of nutrition and some extra care. Foraging maintains warmth in animals. Feed them with at least two to four pounds of feed per day. And also provide warm water as they need.
Pregnant Goats Feeding
During the gestation, period feeding should consist of medium quality hay, good quality pasture, and free-choice mineral.
For pregnant does, must include water, mineral, and good pasture in its feed. At least, try to add 15% protein-rich pellets to their diet.
In the last weeks of gestation, goats need more nutrition because kids do 70%of growing over the previous two months.
Also Read: 10 Reasons That Goats Are Awesome Pets for Homesteaders
Feeding concentrates to provide the nutrients that forage cannot provide often is necessary, particularly with high producing animals. To increase their growth weight, c Creep feeding and supplement feeding is highly effective.
Concentrated feeds are of two types:
Carbonaceous and Proteinaceous
- Carbonaceous concentrates or Energy supplement feeds tend to be low in protein. As it is low in calcium and high in phosphorus, it can make goats suffer from urinary calculi or kidney stones in wethers.
- Proteinaceous concentrates also known as Protein supplements are rich in protein. The quality of protein is far more important than the quantity of protein.
Some Unavoidable Rules Of Goat Feeding
- The availability of pure drinking water is mandatory for goats.
- A mandatory part of a diet is good hay.
- For all goats, ensure providing feed at a particular time and in a particular quantity only.
- Before feeding, store the fodder at a dry place.
- Ensure the stored feed is free from Damp contamination or even vermin.
Some equipment is needed for feeding goats. Airtight containers made up of metal or plastic with a lid. And food containers or buckets will help reduce waste.
You may need:
- Food buckets.
- Mineral feeder.
- Hay Manger.
- Feed storage containers.
- Water buckets.
Food Supplements for Goats
Baking Soda: Feed them baking soda to avoid digestive issues like feeding and bloating.
Loose Minerals: Goats also need to take multivitamins in order to provide them all the required minerals, just like humans do.
Beet Pulp: Beet pulp is rich in energy, protein, and fiber. So, if the goat gets bored with the average feed, switch it up slightly. They will be happier for it.
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds: Black Oil Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, helping them with muscle and reproductive health.
Kelp Meal: Being an excellent source of iodine, Kelp Meal would be a beneficial supplement for their milk production.
Apple Cider Vinegar:
It is excellent for everyone. Adding Apple Cider Vinegar to your goat’s drinking water daily will enhance their immune system and provide minerals and nutrients.
Ensure to maintain a regular and healthy diet for your goats. Avoid food items that can harm their body or functions, you should look for ways to maintain a healthy weight.
Their digestive system is a bit more unique than all other animals. They have four different compartments in their stomach instead of one. So you definitely need to take care slightly more than you do for other animals.