Unbeknownst to many people, including those considering raising goats, goats have very particular nutritional needs. While some of those needs are met by plants they graze on, others are not.
If you are considering raising goats, it is important to remember that feed will be your biggest expense. And while you may think it makes good financial sense to cut back on the quality of goat feed to save money that is never a good idea. The better your goats are fed, the better return on your investment. That’s because when you fail to provide proper nutrition to your goats you will pay dearly when you find yourself with goats in poor health, lower milk production and costly vet bills.
Goats are considered browsers. They like trees, bushes and woody weeds. While goats may graze a pasture when necessary they don’t like to stand still and eat grass to the roots. Further, this type of low grazing can lead to the spread of parasites.
The main source of nutrition for goats, if it is not feasible that they browse, is hay. Grass hay provides a satisfactory amount of protein and energy for goats while legume hays provide more protein and vitamins and minerals than grass hay. Grass hay also provides significantly more calcium. Of course, all of this depends on the quality and maturity of the grass or alfalfa hay.
Goats eat approximately three pounds of hay every day. It is best to make it available to them throughout the day when there is no pasture available. When pasture is available you should make it available to goats twice a day. You also can feed goats alfalfa in pellet form. This cuts down on the space necessary to store hay and results in reduced waste.
Chaffhaye is basically feed that is bagged and serves as a substitute for hay. It is made by cutting alfalfa or grass, spraying it with molasses and adding bacillus subtillis. The chaffhaye is then vacuum packed. Chaffhaye ferments in the bag which adds good bacteria that is easy digestible. Chaffhaye also 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 equals about one 90-pound hay bale.
Goats also can be fed grain or grain pellets. It is best to give them grain mixes that are specifically formulated for goats.