Feeding Goats

Contrary to popular belief, goats are very fussy about what they eat, and will not eat anything which has been on the floor or soiled. As they are experts at overturning food bowls, tossing hay onto the ground and soiling food/water, they can be very wasteful.

Fresh, clean water should always be provided for all goats. Some goats prefer to have slightly warm water. Milking animals will consume more water than non-productive goats.

Food must be stored properly prior to feeding, to protect it from damp, contamination and vermin.

Feeding kids

All types of goat kids need milk from the time they are born until they are a minimum of 3 months old, and ideally until they are four months, plus access to a gradually increasing amount of solid food. Kids must receive colostrum (first milk) immediately after their birth as it contains important nutrients and antibodies for the new born kid.

Vitamins and minerals are important for goats, and although specially prepared goat & sheep feeds have these added, it is recommended that additional minerals or mineral salt licks are made available. You can also supplement their food with extra loose minerals bought from either your local feed merchant, or from a smallholder supplies store/website.

Feeding adult goats

A fully grown non productive goat should manage on a pretty basic ration. Ad lib hay, plus a small concentrated food ration in summer (when they have access to grazing/browsing), and a larger concentrated ration in winter when grass/browsing has no food value.

If kept with no access to grazing/browsing then extra bulk food should be fed, e.g. alfalfa, dried grass, chopped vegetables, greens/branches, soaked sugar beet pulp (females only).

Feeding pregnant goats

Other age groups and pregnant or milking animals will have different food requirements. When you get your goats try and follow the initial feeding plan from the previous owner whilst the goat or goats settle in.

In the last 6-7 weeks of pregnancy, generally the food ration should be gradually increased from the basic ration, to help the growth and development of the kids, and to help encourage the milk production of the goat.

Concentrated feeds

Different brands of concentrated food can be bought from most feed merchants. There are specially prepared goat mixes available such as Spillers and Allen & Page goat mix. Some brands even have mixes designed for the different types of goat - a dairy goat mix is commonly found, but a pygmy goat mix for example is also available from one manufacturer.

You can feed concentrated sheep or cattle feeds as well (sheep or calf coarse mixes) but it is probably best to speak to an another goatkeeper about this. For dairy goats, a good concentrated feed is attle dairy nuts, though few goats will eat these as their only foodstuff.

Beth Fairley

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