Grass Hay: Coastal, Timothy, Sudan, Clover (usually mixed with other grasses), Oat, Tall Fescue*
Hay should be fed free choice unless the herd has good browse. Grass pasture is not always enough for goats...they need roughage for proper functioning rumen. Hay provides that needed roughage when Variety of browse is not available. Hay should be horse quality, clean dry and well stored, free of mold, stickers and toxic weeds.
*tall fescue Read on Tall Fescue toxicity here
Alfalfa is needed for every goat..Yes, even bucks and wethers...it provides calcium to help balance the phosphorus found in browse, graze, hay, minerals and grain. Much discussion and arguments have been battled over whether to feed to the boys... To help prevent Urinary Calculi....Please feed alfalfa. Alfalfa hay should be clean and dry, well stored. No mold. You can buy Alfalfa Hay, pellets or Chaffhaye. All should smell fresh.
How much do I feed?
Not knowing the quality browse, hay and other food choices you have, I can not say an exact amount your herd needs, however, I would start with at least 1/2 flake alfalfa hay, or 1 pound Chaf or 3 cups Pellet per adult Doe...and adjust based on what she is offering and her condition. Bucks would get this starting amount. Kids would start with a small handful of Alfalfa hay or Chaf or 1/2 cup pellets. Small breeds, Nigerian and Pygmy I would start with a Kids size serving and adjust as you see the need.
Ok, here is one of those opinions lol I don’t feed corn. It doesn’t offer much in a way of nutrients and although a small amount wont hurt, too much can cause Acidosis. If you take a handful of corn and soak it in water, that will give you an idea of whats happening with it in the rumen. If you feel the need to feed corn, only a small amount of cracked corn, never whole.
Opinion Number 2 Sweet feed. Yes your goats love it. But its like feeding your kids sugary cereal when there is better choices. Sweet feed has too much molasses...Too much molasses messes with the rumen, causes loose stools...
Grain for Goats in service or growing...Moms in milk or pregnant, Bucks in Rut and kids still growing and a goat who is under conditioned. There is no need to feed grain to Pet goats not being bred, not being milked. Adult wethers DO NOT need grain at all if in good flesh. I do feed all my does, even if not in service a small amount for table training.
How much to feed?
Start with 1 cup pellet grain or mix per head. 1/2 cup for Nigies or kids. Increase based on what their needs are. For ex: My 160# Saanen doe gives me a bit more then a gallon of milk per milking ( thats over 2 gallons a day) gets 9 pounds of grain on the table 2 times a day..This keeps her milk production comfortable for her and keeps her weight up. My 130# Saanen doe who is dry get 3 pounds grain on the table but my 120 pound Lamancha got 6-6.5 pounds on the table who gave 3/4 gallon, but struggled to keep weight on...You can quickly see there is not a science amount. There are charts that say, up grain to such and such per gallon of milk given, but I have noticed each goat has its own needs and does not always fit in that chart...learn your herd and you will know how much to give.
I recommend 14-16% pellets grain or mix your own. Do not buy allstock or all species feeds. Buy specific for goats nutritional needs.
When feeding a pellet, and wanting to add other goodies, be sure to measure out what they need first then add the additions, such as BOSS, Beet pulp or calf manna ect so not to dilute the Feed pellet.
A few mixes if you want to mix your own
Mix Number 1
- 6 parts whole oats
- 2 parts Calf manna
- 2 parts BOSS ( black oil sunflower seeds)
- 1 part beet pulp shreds
Mix Number 2
- 4 parts whole oats
- 2 parts Barley
- 1 part split peas
- 1 part BOSS
Mix number 3
- 3 parts whole oats
- 3 parts barley
- 1 part BOSS
Blocks are too hard on goats teeth and tongue and too high in salt...Buy Loose minerals made for goats or cows. leave out free choice. I prefer to serve a daily amount and freshen daily. Do not top dress feed with minerals..allow the animal to choose when they need it and how much. One exception is the Kelp mineral blend where we do top dress their feed...(recipe to follow) The kelp blend is also good food.
Home made mineral:
- 10# kelp
- 16 oz Dr Christophers Vitalherb
- 2 oz pumpkin seed ( for selenium)
- 1 oz brigham tea (helps copper intake)
We offer loose salt, blocks are too hard on their teeth and tongue
Baking soda should be fed as needed not free choice. Goats make their own Bicarbonate when they chew a cud. Its best not to do for the body what it needs to do for itself. Especially for our Bucks. Baking soda raises the goat's pH, where urinary stones dissolve in a lower pH (acidic conditions) so that's why it's not good for boys.
Garlic can help boost immune systems, act in place of antibiotics and help ward off Parasites. Since feeding garlic to our Goats we see less lice issues..
SO in conclusion: Hay, Alfalfa, Grain pellet or mix, Loose minerals, loose salt and fresh water...any browse foods you want to walk them to or cut and drag in :)