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Rulton's Goat Farm

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Goat Feeding

The importance of variety in the diet cannot be over-stressed.

My feeding routine for my goats is simple, to close the gate to one of their paddocks when its getting low on browse. My goats have three yards that I can shut off when food is getting low at the moment they are not having any special mix for goats. Below is a few ways of what and how to feed your goats.
 

Goats are ruminants; they have four stomachs. Their stomachs act like big fermentation vats. When you feed a goat, you are actually feeding the bacteria in this fermentation vat. The bacteria, in turn, make the nutrition in the food available to the goat's system. A goat's rumination method of processing food requires plenty of roughage and fiber to work properly. Although the goat's digestive system is similar to that of other ruminants, such as cattle and sheep, who are "grazers" and eat grass, goats are more related to deer, who are "browsers". As browsers, goats are designed to eat, and prefer, brush and trees more than grass. It is natural for them to nibble a little here, and nibble a little there. Though goats will eat grass, if you are considering getting goats to be lawnmowers, you are going to be sorely disappointed, because they will eat your trees and roses before they will work on the lawn. They really like bark and will strip the bark off trees. (especially pines, cedars and maples, to name a few). Goats could be used to help reclaim grasslands that have been overgrown with brush.

Never make big changes in the way you feed a goat all at once, or feed large quantities of a new food that the goat has never had before, if you do this, you can throw off the bacteria in the goat's rumen, which can cause the goat to bloat, or the rumen to shut down. When changing a goat's diet, do so slowly, to give the bacteria in the rumen time to adjust.

Kitchen & Garden Scraps: Goats as composters?

Yes! I used to collect my kitchen scraps to add to my compost pile, but they always started to smell and get moldy before I'd remember to take them down to the garden. One day I looked at my compost collection and realized that most of it would make good additions to our goats diet. These were all the vegetable & fruit cuttings: onion ends, banana peels, tomato ends, broccoli peelings, orange peels, garlic skins, etc. The only thing in the collection that the goats couldn't get was the egg shells. I now sort out the egg shells and give these back to the chicken to eat and feed the kitchen scraps to the goats. They love it and it is a good nutritional supplement to their diets. Because I give the scraps each day, there is never that much and so there is no worry about disrupting their stomach flora.

Treats

We do not usually give our goats food treats (they just like petting and attention as their treat), but if you wish to give your goats treats, a good choice is a few raisins or corn chips. Only give a few each time (feed one at a time) because you don't want to upset your goat's digestive system. You can feed a slice or two of bread as a treat, but never feed bread as a main part of your goat's diet.

Copper: Goats need copper; sheep should not have copper. Due to this, do not feed your goats feed or minerals intended for sheep. If you do, you may experience copper deficiency health related issue with your goats. This may not show up for years, but can be a serious problem.

Below is a feeding shedule

Hay: twice a day in winter/ once a day in summer. (How often you will need to feed hay depends on your particular situation)

Pasture/Browse, minerals and water free choice at all times.

Bucks-

1 pound grain once a day (approx. 3 cups)

1 cup of black oil sunflower seeds

1 Tbls Diamond V Yeast Culture

1 tsp . Buck Booster

1 tsp. minerals

1 tsp. Ammonium Chloride per 150 pounds.

a handful of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

Hay: twice a day (our buck browse area is small so they need supplemented twice a day. How often you will need to feed hay depends on your particular situation).

Pasture/Browse, minerals and water free choice at all times.

Bottle Feeding Kids

Babies need to have Colostrum within an hour of birth.
Please read the important information on Colostrum (below).

After they receive colostrum, bottle fed kids should be fed fresh (or frozen) goat's milk (not canned). If you do not have access to fresh goat's milk, you can use fresh raw cow milk (you can add 3 Tbs. of corn syrup per gallon of milk cow if you wish). If you do not have access to a fresh source of milk, use regular whole cow milk from the grocery store (again, you can add 3 Tbs. of corn syrup per gallon of cow milk if you wish). Don't use canned milk (goat or cow) and DO NOT FEED POWDERED MILK REPLACER/FORMULA. Real whole milk, even from a cow, is much better for them than milk replacer , which can cause diarrhea and floppy kid syndrome. Very often, problems with bottle fed kids stem from the use of milk replacer.

The hole in most nipples is too small and will need to be made bigger. I used to use the larger type of "lamb nipple" and make the hole bigger by cutting an X in the top with scissors. I now like to use regular human baby bottles and nipples. I like these because they let the air into the bottle much better than the lamb nipples while the kid is drinking, making it easier to drink from. No matter what type of nipple you use, you must cut an "X" in the end of the nipple. Make the X bigger than you think it needs to be. See examples in the photos to the left.

If the baby does not want to nurse, you must work with them. Sometime is it extremely (and I mean extremely) hard to get a kid to take a bottle. Be patient. Get him in your lap, pry open his mouth and shove in the nipple. He may struggle and not want the nipple. Milk will probably get everywhere but into the kid. Have paper towels on hand. Put yourself in his place. He has no idea what the bottle is and what you are doing. He wants his "real" mommy. Keep working with him. Speak calmly to him, and I find sometimes making sucking sounds, to help him understand what you are trying to get him to do helps (sometimes). Eventually hunger will aid you and he will realize the bottle is food, not some horrible torture device. It is especially hard to get a kid to take a bottle if they have nursed from a real teat. It has taken me up to 4 days to get kids to take a bottle (meanwhile, two people would have to hold the mother, who had refused the kid, so that he could nurse). Keep working with the kid. Make sure the milk is warm (103*), make sure the nipple is soft and warm. Kids don't like hard cold nipples: they aren't like "mommy". Keep the nipple in your warm pocket until right before you try the bottle.

A kid's system is designed to drink from a nipple that is higher than his head so that milk goes down the "right way", bypassing the rumen which is not functioning yet. When you hold the bottle, you need to hold it up, at an angle so his head is pointing slightly up and his neck is slightly extended as he drinks.

Here is the schedule that we use.
Use the chart above for info on offering hay, grain, etc.

Day one- 6 oz. (per feeding) colostrum, every 4 hours.

Day two- 8 oz. (per feeding) colostrum/whole milk, 4 times a day

Day three- 10 oz. (per feeding) colostrum/whole milk, 4 times a day

Day four- 10-12 oz. (per feeding) colostrum/whole milk, 4 times a day.

For the next week- 10-12 oz. (per feeding) 4 times a day.

For the next 2 months- 10-12 oz. (per feeding) 3 times a day.

For the next 1 month- 10-12 oz. (per feeding) 2 times a day.

10-12 oz. (per feeding) once a day for two weeks.

Tip for weak, small or sick bottle babies: When a bottle baby needs a little extra boost I use the following special formula: 3/4 whole milk, 1/4 Ensure Plus (I use the vanilla flavored Wal-Mart brand) and Immune Support Tincture.

Hay

We feed a good quality grass based hay without mold. We ask for "weedy" hay (which horse people would never feed their horses) because, not only is it cheaper, the weeds contain more nutrition (because weed roots grow deeper and reach more nutrients than grass roots do). The weedy hay is not crappy hay though. It shouldn't be old or moldy; it still should be harvested properly and not have been rained on after cutting.

Once a week we feed alfalfa hay (if we have it); the goats loves love it.

Note: No matter how great your hay is, the goat will waste hay, that is their nature. They will always pick though whatever you give them to find the best parts.

A note on hay feeders:

We use metal hay feeders/racks designed for horses/cattle and also special racks designed for goats. We modify the horse/cattle feeders to make the openings between slats a bit smaller to help not waste quite as much hay (goats will always waste hay; it seems to be a fact of life).

I have been asked about keyhole feeders for goats to help not waste hay. Keyhole feeders are very dangerous. Yes, they "hold" the goat's head into the feeder, and maybe help save some hay, BUT it also hold the goat's head in and she can't see and/or get away fast when she is about to be rammed by another goat. I have known goats to get injured badly due to keyhole feeders. We have never had them here. I know other breeders who installed keyhole feeders and later removed the keyhole part after goats got hurt. It is next to impossible to provide the prefect hay feeder so that goats do not waste hay. That is just the way they eat.

 

Above is what the SPCA suggest feeding goats, We will have below a chart of my goats feeding routine look out for this in a few weeks.