My herd has unlimited access to about 5 acres of pasture, free choice grass hay, Chaffhaye, grain and minerals. I give fresh water at least once a day and make sure in the winter they have nice warm water.
Remember that it is important to feed goats off the ground in a clean environment not exposed to fecal matter. Feeding off the ground helps control internal parasites, this includes grain and hay but hay can be a challenge. Goat are notorious hay wasters and if not properly managed they will waste the majority of a bale of hay. If they mess up the bale or they will not eat it remove the bale and make sure it does not have any mold, then feed it to your horses or other livestock. Lots of times I have taken my goats “wasted” hay and the horses will eat it all!
Our hay feeders, plans courtesy of Premier 1 Supplies
Hay and Pasture
I give free choice grass hay in the winter, but they typically do not eat hay in the summer if they have access to the pasture. They will eat lots of hay if confined to one area or if there is not anything to browse. I also supplement in the winter and while pregnant with Chaffhaye. Chaffhaye is an amazing premium alfalfa in a bag. It is a natural nutrient-rich forage product. There are many benefits to using Chafhaye:
- There is little to no waste and the goats LOVE it!
- They keep weight without that big hay belly.
- Helps achieve optimal milk production!
- Their coat and skin are sleek and shiny.
- It has a beneficial bacteria that aids in the animals nutritional utilization
Note that it does take them a little while to really eat it, usually about ½ a bag. Keep with it and one day soon they will fight you for it!
Also, this product is great with horses! I have a senior horse that I was having MAJOR issues with keeping weight, especially in the winter. We did teeth, bloodwork and parasite checks. His teeth are a major problem because he hardly has any teeth left. With multiple different feed trials, supplements, alfalfa hay and so on I could only put a little weight on him. He started with a body score of about 3 and I got him to a 4 on Purina Senior (LOTS and LOTS of Senior). He looked ok but not great. Found the Chaffhaye with a combination of his Senior (lots less than before) and he has held his weight and in mid-February he has a body score of around 6! This really seems to do the trick and in the long run has saved a significant amount of money!
I feed a pelleted grain and quantity depends on the individual goat and their life stage. There is much debate on grain in the goat world. Too much grain or a sugary grain can cause many different issues in goats, such as polio. It is a dedicated balance in order to have good producing goats.
As of February 2017, I use Co-op brand 16% Pelleted Milk Goat Enhancer (Item 93446). I have seen really good results and am very pleased with it right now!
The substance of life!
Goats like clean, fresh water and can be picky about drinking when it is not quite right. They can make it a chore to make sure they are consuming enough water. I actually keep two troughs, one is a 40 gallon rubber trough and then I have a 5 gallon. Most of the time they only drink out of the 5 gallon...go figure! They will not drink if it is too hot or too cold, so I bring warm water down in the winter and cool in the summer. They usually drink a lot of it before I get it to the trough. Just watch their consumption and make sure they drink, especially your boys!
All supplement are fed free choice because goats seems to know what they need and when they need it! I feed Manna Pro Goat Mineral Supplement and Thorvin Kelp.
Often times new owners overlook feeding loose minerals because they do not understand the absolute importance of goats having proper supplements. Just because it seems that they don't need it or waste a lot, it should be available at all times.
There can be many different signs of mineral deficiency which include poor coat (patches or missing hair, faded hair color, rough or flaky skin), poor conformation, inability to maintain weight, parasite issues, loss of kids, abortion and other birthing issues.
Here is a good link explaining about different minerals.
There are many variations on loose mineral feeders. Pinterest is a great resource.
Fruits, Veggies and Treats
Moderation is key when giving anything to goats. Mine enjoy carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, spinach, green beans, snap peas, pumpkins, squash, apples, pears, watermelon (a favorite), peaches, grapes, raisins and some animal crackers.
I give scraps or clean out my fridge when they are not looking perfect. Do not give rotten or bad foods.
Things to not feed goats include meats, cat food, dog food, Azaleas, Cherry Trees, Rhododendron and possibly tomato plants or potatoes. For a complete list go here: Fias Co.