Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Goats

Many people are surprised to learn that goats have very specific nutritional needs. Meeting the nutritional needs of goats can be done with grazing on plants, but it’s not always enough.

When it comes to raising goats, feed will be your biggest expense. It is important to remember that trying to save money by feeding goats cheaper feed is never the right decision. That is because the better your goats are fed, the better return on your investment. And when you fail to provide proper nutrition for your goats you will end up with sick goats and lowered milk production. You also are likely to incur costly veterinarian bills.

Goats are browsers and prefer trees, bushes and woody weeds. While goats graze a pasture when necessary, it is not in their nature to stand in once place and eat grass to the roots. Even if they do this, it is likely to lead to the spread of parasites.

If it is not feasible for goats to browse, then their main source of nutrition should be hay. Grass hay provides adequate protein and energy for goats. It also provides calcium. Legume hay provides enough protein and vitamins and minerals. Of course, all of this depends on the quality and maturity of the hay.

Goats should eat about three pounds of hay every day. When no pasture is available, it should be available throughout the day. When pasture is available you should make hay available to goats twice a day. Goats can also be fed alfalfa in pellet form. Doing so cuts down on the space necessary to store hay and leads to less waste. 

Chaffhaye is feed that is bagged and serves as a hay substitute. It is made by cutting alfalfa or grass, spraying it with molasses and adding bacillus subtillis. The chaffhaye is then vacuum packed and ferments in the bag. This adds good bacteria that is easy digestible. Chaffhaye provides more energy and vitamins and minerals then dried day. Goats require about two pounds of chaffhaye for every 100 pounds of body weight. A 50-pound bag of chaffhaye is equal to about one 90-pound hay bale.

Finally, goats can be fed grain or grain pellets. It is important to give them grain mixes that are specifically formulated for goats, however.

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