What do goats eat? Some people think just about anything. The truth is that feeding goats different types of forage is more along the lines of what goats really eat.
If you don't have an acre or more of pasture for your goats to find enough forage, goats can be given numerous types of hay
to make up for a lack of forage. You can even grow your own
grasses or hay for your
goats - if you're motivated!
Get some goat facts so that you can understand the basics about goats. Correctly feeding goats takes an understanding of how their digestive system works along with their dietary needs.
Nutrition is probably the most important part of raising goats and improper feeding can literally kill a goat. The most important nutrients for a goat are protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals.
What do goats eat will affect herd reproduction, kid growth, and your goat's milk production. Unfortunately, most people will resort to feeding goats some type of goat chow which is processed pellets with added vitamins and minerals - especially if they are being milked.
Fortunately, pasture tends to be high in energy and protein for goats. Pastures with shrubs and edible trees are also the most economical source of nutrients for goats. Goats need a variety of vitamins especially vitamin A and vitamin D. Being allowed out in sunny pastures will help to full-fill much of a goat's vitamin needs.
Goats require lots of fiber - preferably from foraging in a pasture. The right type of food maintains a healthy ruminant environment and prevents digestive disturbances. Goats also require adequate water intake and goats seem to prefer room temperature water over cold.
Goats are ruminant animals and they have a stomach that is composed of 4 compartments. Ruminants are less likely to experience digestive problems (acidosis) if they are consuming high forage diets.
What do goats eat differs from other ruminants such as cattle or sheep.
Goats are reputed to be willing to eat almost anything and they may sample many things, but goats prefer to browse on the tips of woody shrubs, trees, and leafy plants.
Stripping leaves off of branches and shrubs is their favorite thing to do. Goats will also eat dry leaves, shoots, weeds, and grasses. For a treat, you can give goats apples, grapes, pears, watermelon, bananas, turnips, celery, carrots, and pumpkin.
During spring green pasture is usually about 80% digestible and has a crude protein content of 20%. Goats can eat lots of this spring pasture and because this pasture is very high nutritionally, they will grow quickly.
Keep about 6 to 10 goats per acre. The amount of goats will vary with the quantity and quality of browse available. Goats that browse seem to have less problems with internal parasites. Also, the rotation of your pasture will help to ensure less parasites.
Grow Your Own Goat Fodder
One of the main things in remembering "what do goats eat for best heatlh" is to make sure goats have free choice to browse on pasture or provide them with enough hay or fodder, On top of that you may have to offer a supplemental feed when goats are having babies or being milked.
Mix Your Own Supplemental Feed
If you do decide to feed your goats grains, maybe it's best to mix your own goat feed to ensure the best quality and nutrition for your goats.
Some people take it to another level and will sprout grains before feeding them to their goats. This helps to get rid of the anti-nutrients found in grains. Sprouting also increases nutrients like protein and vitamins.
And others prefer to soak their grains in water with raw apple cider vinegar to help improve the digestibility of grains.
Unfortunately, "what do goats eat" can include toxic plants. You will have to make sure to keep your goats away from plants that are poisonous. Do not feed goats high oxalate foods such as spinach, beet greens, or chocolate.
Don't feed goats nightshade plants like potatoes or tomatoes. And do not feed your goats too many gas producing vegetables.
Unfortunately, most landscaping plants are poisonous to goats.
This is just a partial list of what is considered poisonous to a goat: Lilacs, Azaleas, Holly Trees or Bushes, Mountain Laurel, Oleander, Lily of the Valley, Rhododendron, Foxglove, Black Walnut, Milkweed, Rhubarb Leaves, Red Maples, Cherry Leaves, Peach Leaves, Plum Leaves, and Hydrangea Leaves.
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