Goats are an important source of milk on a dairy farm. But unlike cows, which produce only 5 to 6 percent of milk with respect to their bodies, a goat produces milk that is 10 percent of its body weight. For this reason, it is important that the goat eats regularly, 5 to 7 times in a day, to make up for the milk produced. Also, goats are ruminants. This means that whatever a goat eats is first received by the bacteria in its stomach (a goat has four stomachs) which then makes the nutrition available to the goat. A drastic change in diet or giving of wrong feed can cause serious digestive complications. It is therefore of utmost importance that you know about dietary needs of goats, so that you can introduce a feed supplement along with its basic diet as and when needed.
Goats have very specific feeding needs, which are often not met despite introducing multiple varieties to the meals. Goats are more of browsers than mowers. They can nibble on multiple bushes from roses to tree leaves to woody stems and also graze on grass. Yet, they may miss out on much needed vitamins and minerals. Goats essentially require Vitamin A and D. Vitamin A is necessary for proper vision and health of internal organs. It also contributes to goat`s fertility and helps fight any form of infections. Though goat’s body produces vitamin A inside it`s body using beta-carotene found in green plants, a goat may still develop Vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin D, along with calcium and phosphorus are essential for strong bones and milk production. These are especially important for lactating doers.
But more importantly, they need copper. Copper is vital for a goat`s over-all growth. It is vital for proper bone formation, central nervous system and for giving birth to healthy calves. In absence of sufficient amounts of copper in goats, they experience loss of appetite, anemia, low or no milk production and miscarriages during pregnancy. Calves born with copper-deficiency do not live for long. If they survive they remain weak. It is important to keep goats away from eating material which can harm them. For example, goats are drawn to paper. This is because goats like barks and woody stems and paper is made out of wood. But eating paper can damage goat`s stomach or can even prove fatal.
Forage for goats at farms consists of different types of hay and grains. These cover for most of goat`s fiber and protein needs. Grazing along with farm feed covers most of the goat’s nutrition requirements but still the animal can suffer from some deficiency. This may be because the grazing land lacks minerals. This is where feed supplements come to the rescue. Feed manufacturers make feed supplements that are specific to goat`s feeding needs. The preparation often includes freshly cut hay (usually alfalfa) along with cereals, molasses and loose minerals. Adding feed supplements to the regular diet will ensure complete nutrition for the goats.
Feed Supplements: Choosing What Is Best For Your Goats