Did you remember the most important thing to feed your goat? Raising goats can be very simple but as with everything, there is always a learning curve.
Most important thing to feed a goat
My goat history
While growing up I always wanted goats. I loved goats, but my dad always said no. I decided I would get into goat tying and of course I needed a goat to practice on, so I finally got a goat. I remember the first day I rode my horse up full speed and while coming to a sliding stop I jumped off of my horse, ran over to my goat and proceeded to throw him on the ground.
When I looked into his beautiful golden eyes and I just couldn’t do it. It was out of the question, I couldn’t throw him on the ground and tie up his feet. Needless to say my goat tying experience was short lived, but I did get a goat.
My dad said he stunk (he really did because he was a young Billy) but I said he didn’t just as any kid would. He stood on top of the cars to eat leaves in the trees, which got me into a lot of trouble. He loved to sleep on our front porch and ate things in the yard he shouldn’t.
I have learned since then there are definitely things you need to have when you keep a goat. A good sturdy pen is one of them, unless of course you like them on the front porch and as a car ornament.
I have raised goats for around 18 years. I have good sturdy pens to keep them in thus keeping them out of the garden, trees and off of the cars. I have also learned many tricks since my first experience raising a goat.
Will a goat eat anything and everything?
The old saying goes a goat will eat anything. Actually goats can be a little picky on what they will eat. If I can express to anyone that is deciding to raise goats probably one of the most important things that should be done is feed mineral. I can’t stress how important this is.
What could possibly be wrong
I receive phone calls every year in the spring during the kidding season. The question is what can be done for a new baby goat or what did I do wrong. (hopefully you wont take it personally) They either have new babies that are deformed, no hair, born dead or just failure to thrive. One of my first questions I ask is “Do you feed mineral?”
The answer I usually hear is I feed a mineral block. When we owned a feed store I attended many meetings discussing nutrition for animals. Just like people animals need to be fed mineral.
Let me explain a little bit about the difference between a mineral block or inexpensive loose mineral and a really good loose mineral. To make this simple I am going to use a can of pork and beans in the comparison.
Have you ever opened a can of pork and beans? Looking inside of the can there are a lot of beans with only a chunk or 2 of the pork? When you are buying the cheap loose mineral or a block of mineral, the salt is like the beans, and the pork is like the mineral.
Just like there is not a lot of pork in the beans, there is not a lot of mineral in a block or a bag of loose salt mineral with a trace, is there? This mineral is a lot cheaper to buy because it is mostly salt.
What are you feeding
Mineral is expensive. Just like buying vitamins and minerals for you, they are expensive. If your doe doesn’t have what she needs the baby is deprived. Sometimes everything works out ok if the doe is really healthy, but if she is lacking in nutrients, then you can have problems.
This is why it is important to feed a loose complete mineral. I free choice a mineral, meaning I keep mineral in a trough and they can eat all they want any time they want to. I do not put any salt out for them to eat because even a complete mineral has a little salt in it. The salt is what helps control the intake. If you have free choice salt in their pen, they won’t eat the mineral because it tastes a little bitter.
At first they may eat a lot of mineral. Don’t worry, they know when to quit. Just make sure you give them access to mineral always, and fresh water. When they get their fill they will slow down and not eat as much of it. But don’t be surprised if they eat more at times.
Why feed mineral
It is important they stay on mineral year round. When you think about it if you are using your goats like I do there is a lot of demand on their bodies. I kid in the spring. After about 8 weeks I wean the babies and start milking the does.
I use the milk from the does to feed calves. We also drink the milk, make cheese, yogurt, soap and other things. I try to dry the does up by the first of October. (I am a fair weather milker) and then I put the buck in to breed the does around the 2nd week of November.
That is a big demand on the goat. No wonder she needs the mineral. The mineral also keeps the good bugs healthy and strong. These bugs are in their stomachs to help digest the food.
How does mineral help their bodies?
Mineral will help them when they are lactating. This is a necessity. It is important to keep them on mineral when they are pregnant to nourish the doe and the kid. It is also important when you are trying to breed them. Breed back is faster and the goat is in better condition when they are bred.
This is why I keep my goats on mineral year round. It is expensive, but it is also expensive when you lose your babies because of lack of nutrition, besides being heart breaking when you are unable to do anything to help them.
Even though goats are easy to raise the more you know the greater your chance is to be successful.
More tips for raising goats
Here are some Tips for kidding
What do you do do after the kids are born?
How to Tips for disbudding kids
Tips for great tasting goats milk.
I hope your kidding season goes great. I love comments, post some pictures if you would like. I cant resist baby goat pictures!
Feel free to share with someone that may benefit from this article.