Considering Goats as Pets or Livestock? Here’s What You Need to Know About Proper Feeding and Care
Embarking on the journey of raising goats can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, whether you’re considering them as pets, for milk or meat production, or simply for the joy of having these charming creatures around. However, successful goat ownership goes beyond the picturesque images of grazing goats; it involves careful consideration of their unique needs, particularly when it comes to feeding. In this article, we’ll explore key aspects you should know before bringing goats into your life, with a special focus on feeding them correctly.
Keeping records is a fundamental aspect of raising goats. Get good at keeping accurate and detailed records and information about your goats. You’ll be glad you did when you need the information in the future.
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Market for Goats
Before diving into all of the necessary information about raising goats properly, it’s important to know if there is a market for goats in your area. You may only want to raise a couple pet goats and won’t need to worry about breeding and marketing the offspring but if you plan to have kids each year, you’ll need to have a plan of what’s going to happen to the kids when they are weaned.
If you are raising meat goats, which is the quickest way to make money with goats, you are also setting yourself up to have repeat customers if you keep them happy with their purchase. People in your community and even restaurants can be repeat customers.
Understanding the Goat’s Nature:
Goats are curious, social, and adaptable animals with specific dietary requirements. Before getting goats, it’s crucial to understand their natural behaviors, dietary preferences, and the importance of proper nutrition in maintaining their health and well-being.
Goats are browsers, not grazers like sheep or cattle. They prefer to nibble on a variety of plants, shrubs, and trees rather than grazing solely on grass. When planning their diet, it’s essential to provide a balanced mix of high-quality forage, such as pasture and hay, supplemented with grains, minerals, and protein blocks as needed.
Each life stage of a goat, including kids, growing goats, adult does, and bucks, has specific nutritional needs. Tailoring their diet to these requirements is crucial for promoting optimal growth, reproduction, and overall health. Consult with a veterinarian or experienced goat owner to create a feeding plan that suits the specific needs of your goats.
Quality Forage and Hay:
Forage, such as pasture and hay, forms the foundation of a goat’s diet. Ensure access to high-quality forage that provides essential nutrients and fiber. Rotate pastures regularly to prevent overgrazing and maintain the nutritional value of the forage. Choose hay that is free from mold, dust, and weeds.
Supplemental feeding is often necessary, especially during times when forage quality may be insufficient. This includes winter months or periods of drought. Grains, such as whole oats, and barley, and grain formulated specifically for goats can provide additional energy, while protein blocks and mineral supplements support overall health.
A consistent and clean water supply is essential for goats. Goats can be finicky about water quality, so make sure they have access to fresh water at all times. Regularly clean and refill water troughs to encourage proper hydration.
Feeding Management for Does and Kids:
If you plan on breeding goats, understanding the specific nutritional needs of does during pregnancy and lactation is crucial. Kids also require proper nutrition for healthy growth. Adequate feeding management ensures the health and vitality of both does and their offspring.
Monitoring Body Condition:
Regularly assess the body condition of your goats to ensure they are neither underweight nor overweight. Adjust their diet accordingly to maintain an optimal body condition score, which is vital for their overall health and reproductive performance.
Goats can be delightful and rewarding companions or productive members of your homestead. Before bringing them into your life, take the time to understand their unique needs, especially when it comes to feeding. Providing a well-balanced and nutritionally appropriate diet is a cornerstone of responsible goat ownership. Consult with experienced goat owners, join local goat clubs, and seek guidance from veterinarians to ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to raise healthy and happy goats. With proper care and attention, your goats will become cherished members of your family or valuable contributors to your homestead goals.
There is so much to learn about goats. Keep learning here: Raising Goats Resource Page