Feeding goats is an essential aspect of raising them, and as a goat owner, one of the most common questions you may have is how often should you feed your goats.
The answer to this question may vary depending on factors such as the goat’s age, weight, breed, and activity level. This comprehensive guide will discuss how often you should feed your goats to ensure their health and well-being.
How Often Should You Feed Your Goats?
The amount and frequency of feeding goats depend on their age, size, and function. However, adult goats generally require about 4 pounds of hay per day to thrive, and this amount can increase or decrease depending on the amount of forage available on pasture.
Feeding supplements such as loose minerals, baking soda, beet pulp, black oil sunflower seeds, and kelp meal can also be beneficial for goats. Hay is one of the primary sources of nutrients for goats, and they can be fed hay freely or strictly twice a day.
Feeding Schedule for Adult Goats
Adult goats should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. You should provide your goats with enough food to last them 12 hours between each feeding. The amount of food your goats need will depend on their size and activity level.
A general rule of thumb is to feed them between 2-4% of their body weight in hay and grain daily.
Feeding Schedule for Baby Goats
If you have baby goats, also known as kids, they will require more frequent feedings than adult goats. Newborn kids should be fed every 2-3 hours, while older kids can be fed every 4-6 hours. As they grow, you can gradually decrease the number of feedings to 3-4 times per day until they are weaned.
Sample Detailed Feeding Schedule for Goats
Sure, here’s a table showing feeding recommendations for different goat breeds:
|Alpine||Alpines are adaptable to a wide range of feeding programs. They require a balanced diet of hay, grain, and fresh water. Good quality hay and a grain mix containing protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins should be provided.|
|Boer||Boers are primarily meat goats and require a high-energy diet to support growth and muscle development. They require good quality hay and a grain mix high in protein and energy. Alfalfa hay can be fed to meet their nutritional needs.|
|LaMancha||LaManchas are dairy goats and require a balanced diet to support milk production. They require good quality hay and a grain mix high in protein, energy, and calcium. Lactating does require additional nutrition to support milk production.|
|Nubian||Nubians are dairy goats and require a balanced diet to support milk production. They require good quality hay and a grain mix high in protein, energy, and calcium. Lactating does require additional nutrition to support milk production.|
|Pygmy||Pygmies are smaller goats and require a lower amount of feed than larger breeds. They require good quality hay and a grain mix balanced in protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins.|
|Saanen||Saanens are dairy goats and require a balanced diet to support milk production. They require good quality hay and a grain mix high in protein, energy, and calcium. Lactating does require additional nutrition to support milk production.|
Note: The feeding recommendations provided are general guidelines and should be adjusted based on the individual needs of each goat.
Consult with a veterinarian or a qualified animal nutritionist for specific feeding recommendations based on your goats’ age, weight, and nutritional requirements.
What Does Free Choice Mean for Goats?
Free choice means that goats have access to food or minerals at all times and can eat as much or as little as they want. For example, goats should have access to free choice minerals, which should be kept in a mineral feeder with loose minerals available to the herd, not the block.
Goats tend to take in a lot of minerals at once, and the block takes too long for them to get what they need. Hay should also be available to goats at all times, with hay being the best form of roughage for goats. Hay should form the bulk of a goat’s daily feed, making up to 40%.
Types of Feed for Goats
Goats are herbivores, which means they mainly eat plants. The primary source of food for goats is hay, which should make up the majority of their diet. There are several types of hay that goats can eat, including alfalfa, clover, and grass hay.
In addition to hay, goats also require grain to supplement their diet. The amount of grain your goats need will depend on their age, size, and activity level. When choosing a grain for your goats, make sure it contains the necessary nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Water is also an essential part of a goat’s diet, and they should have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Make sure their water source is not contaminated and changed frequently to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Feeding Tips for Goats
- Provide your goats with high-quality hay that is free of mold and dust.
- Make sure your goats have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
- Do not overfeed your goats, as this can lead to health problems such as obesity and bloat.
- Monitor your goat’s weight regularly to ensure they are maintaining a healthy weight.
- Gradually introduce new feed to your goats to prevent digestive problems.
- Provide your goats with mineral supplements to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients.
- Avoid feeding your goats food that is toxic to them, such as avocado, chocolate, and rhubarb.
Feeding your goats the right amount of food at the right times is crucial for their health and well-being. Adult goats should be fed twice a day, while baby goats require more frequent feedings. The type of feed your goats need will depend on their age, size, and activity level.
Providing your goats with high-quality hay, grain, and clean water is essential to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients. By following these feeding tips, you can ensure your goats stay healthy and happy.
Sarah Lane has been a farm wife since 2010 and mother of two children for nearly as long. She and her husband, Jonathan, live on a small farm in Texas where they raise dairy goats and beef cattle as well as chickens for eggs and meat. In addition to growing their own hay, straw and garden produce, the Lane family works with other nearby farms to source organic grain from which they make artisan bread sold at local farmer’s market.