Goat Feed – What to feed and How much to feed?

Running a Goat Farming Business should require a proper understanding of Goat Feed Management. Goat farm consists of Does, Bucks, and Kids. Each one requires different feed along with the different quantities in each of their stages. Our feed should be complete and balanced ration for the growing goats.  Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water.

Different age groups in the Goat require different feed

1. Feeding different age groups of Does (Female Goats)

  • Feeding Does
  • Feeding Does for breeding
  • Feeding Does in the first four months of pregnancy
  • Feeding Does in last month of pregnancy
  • Feeding Does at kidding time
  • Feeding lactating Does

2. Feeding different age groups of Kids (Baby Goats)

  • Feeding of Colostrum for kids
  • Creep feeding for kids
  • Feeding kids after 3 months to 12 months

3. Feeding Bucks for breeding(Male Goats)

  • Feeding Bucks
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Goat Feed – What to feed and How much to feed

A) Feeding different age groups of Does (Female Goats)

1. Feeding Does

  • If the availability of pasture is good no need to supplement with concentrate mixture
  • In poor grazing conditions, animals may be supplemented with 150 – 200 g of concentrate/animal/day.

2. Feeding Does for breeding

  • If the availability of pasture is good there is no need to supplement concentrate mixture.
  • In poor grazing conditions, animals may be supplemented with concentrate mixture at  150 – 350 g of concentrate/animal/day depending upon the age.
  • The digestible crude protein level of concentrate mixture used in the adult feed is 12 percent.

3. Feeding Does in the first four months of pregnancy

  • Pregnant animals should be allowed in good quality pasture 4-5 hours per day.
  • Their ration must be supplemented with available green fodder at the rate of 5 kg per head per day.

4. Feeding Does in last month  of pregnancy

  • In this period fetal growth increases 60 – 80 percent until parturition and lack of enough energy in the feed can cause pregnancy toxemia (blood poisoning by toxins from a local bacterial infection) in does. So during this period animals should be allowed in very good quality pasture 4-5 hours per day.
  • In addition to grazing, animals should be fed with a concentrated mixture of around 250 –350 gm/animal/day.
  • Their ration should be supplemented with available green fodder at the rate of 7 kg per head per day.
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5. Feeding Does at kidding time

  •   As kidding time approaches or immediately after kidding the grain allowance should be reduced but good quality dry roughage is fed free choice.
  • It is usually preferable to feed lightly on the day of parturition, but allow plenty of clean, cool water.
  • Soon after kidding the doe must be given just enough of slightly warm water.
  • After parturition, the ration of the doe may be gradually increased so that she receives the full ration in divided doses six to seven times in a day.
  • Bulky and laxative feeds may be included in the ration during the first few days.
  • A mixture of wheat bran and barley or oats or maize at 1: 1 proportion is excellent.

6. Feeding lactating Does

The following rations may be recommended

  • 6-8 hours grazing + 10 kg cultivated green fodder/day
  • 6-8 hours grazing + 400 g of concentrate mixture/day
  • 6-8 hours grazing + 800 g of good quality legume hay/day

B) Feeding different age groups of Kids (Baby Goats)

  • Immediately after birth feeds the young ones with colostrum.
  • Keep mother doe and kids in a separate shed(warm).
  • Up to 3 days of birth keep dam and young ones together for 2-3 days for frequent access to milk.
  • After 3 days and up to weaning feed the kids with milk at 2 to 3 times a day.
  • At about 2 weeks of age, the young ones should be trained to eat green roughage.
  • At one month of age, the young ones should be provided with the concentrate mixture (Creep feed).
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Age of kidsDoe’s milk (ml)Creep feed (gm)Forage, green/day (gm)
1-3 daysColostrum-300 ml, 3 feedings
4-14 days350 ml, 3 feedings
15-30 days350 ml, 3 feedingsA littleA little
31-60 days400 ml, 2 feedings100-150Free choice
61-90 days200 ml, 2 feedings200-250Free choice

1. Feeding of Colostrum for kids

  • The kid should be allowed to suck its dam for the first three or four days so that they can get a good amount of colostrum.
  • Colostrum feeding is the main factor in limiting kid losses.
  • Cow colostrum is also efficient for kids.
  • Colostrum is given at the rate of 100 ml per kg of live weight.
  • Colostrum can be preserved with 1-1.5% (vol/wt) propionic acid or 0.1% formaldehyde. Propionic acid is preferred for preservation as it keeps the pH value low.
  • The chemically-treated colostrum is kept at a cool place to ensure better quality.

2. Creep feeding for kids

  • This creep feed may be started from one month of age and up to 2-3 months of age
  • The main purpose of creep feeding is to give more nutrients for their rapid growth.
  • The general quantity to be given to the kids is 50 – 100 gm/animal/day.
  • This should contain 22 percent protein.
  • Antibiotics like oxytetracycline or chlortetracycline may be mixed at the rate of 15 to 25 mg/kg of feed.

The composition of ideal creep feed

  • Maize – 40%
  • Groundnut cake -30 %
  • Wheat bran – 10 %
  • De-Oiled rice bran- 13 %
  • Molasses – 5%
  • Mineral mixture- 2%
  • Salt – 1% fortified with vitamins A, B2 and D3 and antibiotic feed supplements.
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3. Feeding kids after 3 months to 12 months

  • Grazing in the pasture for about 8 hours per day.
  • Supplementation of concentrate mixture @ 100 – 200 g/animal/day with the protein of 16-18 percent.
  • Dry fodder during the night in summer months and during rainy days.

 C) Feeding bucks for breeding

  • Allowing the bucks to graze with does.
  • Under such conditions, the bucks will get the same ration as the does
  • It will meet the nutritional requirements of the buck.
  • Where there are facilities for separate feeding of the buck, it may be given half a kilogram of a concentrated mixture consisting of three parts oats or barley, one part maize and one part wheat per day.

Factors influencing Goats requirements

A mature doe or buck requires high maintenance requirements. Additional requirements above those needed for body maintenance are required for growth, pregnancy, lactation and hair production. As the productivity of meat goats is increased through the selection and crossbreeding with goats having a higher production potential, such as the Jamnapari(Indian breed), Boer goat, nutritional requirements will also increase.

The more productive goats should be fed high-quality feed, especially weaned kids being prepared for market, young replacement doelings and does in late gestation and early lactation. Does nursing twins or triplets have greater nutritional requirements than does nursing a single kid?

Goats grazing very hilly pastures will have higher nutritional requirements than goats on level pastures of the same quality because they will expend more energy to gather feed.

1. Nutrition of Newborn Kids

Colostrum is the first milk produced after birth. Colostrum contains a high content of immunoglobulins (antibodies), vitamin A, minerals, fat and other sources of energy.

Antibodies are proteins that help the goat kid fight diseases. The ability of kids to resist diseases is greatly affected by the timing of colostrum intake and the quantity and quality of the colostrum fed. Reports indicate that if left alone, 25% of the young do not nurse within 8 hours and 10 to 25% do not get sufficient amounts of colostrum.

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Colostrum should be ingested or bottle-fed (in case of weak kids) as soon as kids have a suckling reflex. In cases of extremely weak kids, they should be tube-fed. The producer must be certain that all newborn kids get colostrum soon after birth (within the first hour after birth, and certainly within the first 6 hours) because the percentage of antibodies found in colostrum decreases rapidly after birth.

It is crucial that the antibodies in colostrum be consumed before the kids suck on dirty, pathogen-loaded parts of its mother or stall. In addition, the ability of the newborn kid to absorb antibodies also decreases rapidly 24 hours after birth. Newborn kids should ingest 10% of their body weight in colostrum during the first 12 to 24 hours of life for optimum immunity.

A goat kid weighing 2.5 kg at birth should ingest 200 gm of colostrum during the first 12 to 24 hours of life. The extra colostrum produced by high lactating does during the first 24 hours following kidding can be frozen for later use when needed. Only first milking from healthy animals should be frozen for later feeding, and the colostrum from older animals that have been on the premises for several years is typically higher in antibody content against endemic pathogens than is colostrum from first fresheners.

2. Nutritional Management of Replacement Does

Doe kids needed for replacement should be grazed with their mothers during as much of the milking period as possible and not weaned early. Following weaning(after the mother’s milk is done), doe kids should be separated from the main herd and have access to high-quality forage and receive good nutrition through first kidding at 1-2 years of age, depending on the nutritional plane.

Leaving doe kids with the main herd will result in undernourished doelings that are bred too young and too small; these animals will never reach their production potential. A yearly supply of replacement does that are healthy, of good size, and free of internal and external parasites is essential to the success of any meat goat enterprise.

3. Flushing

Flushing means increasing the level of feed offered to breed does, mostly energy, starting about one month prior to breeding,

  • To increase body weight
  • Ovulation rate and litter size

Increasing the level of energy offered to does should continue throughout the breeding season and for approximately 30 to 40 days after removing the bucks, for adequate implantation of the fetuses in the uterus. Body condition is used to determine whether flushing will be of benefit to breeding does.

Does in extremely good body condition will tend not to respond to flushing. On the other hand, does that are in relatively poor condition as a result of poor feed quality and supply, high worm loads, late kidding of twins or triplets, will respond favorably to flushing by improving their body condition.

Flushing can be accomplished by moving breeding does to a lush nutritious pasture 3 to 4 weeks prior to the introduction of the bucks. This cost-effective flushing method is abundant. Another method is feeding 200 gm/day of a high energy supplement. Corn(Maize), groundnut cake is the supplement of choice for flushing; the whole cottonseed is another low cost, high energy and also high protein supplement. The goal is to increase the intake and body weight, breeding should be grouped according to their body condition.

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4. Water

Water is the cheapest feed ingredient. However, production, growth and the general performance of the goat will be affected if insufficient water is available. Water needs vary with the stage of production, being highest for early lactating does, and during times when the weather is warm and forages are dry.

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In some instances, when consuming lush and leafy forages, or when grazing forages soaked with rainwater or heavy dew, goats can get all the water they need out of the feed. However, water is almost always needed by some members of the herd such as lactating does. Because it is difficult to predict water needs, goats should always have access to sufficient high-quality water.

5. Minerals

Goats require many minerals for basic body function and optimum production. Providing free choice a complete goat mineral or a 50:50 mix of trace mineralized salt and dicalcium phosphate is advisable in most situations. Major minerals likely to be deficient in the diet are salt (sodium chloride), calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Trace minerals likely to be low in the diet are selenium copper and zinc.

Most forages are relatively high in calcium (grass: less than 0.5%; legumes: more than 1.2%), so calcium is low only if high grain diets are fed, which would be unusual for goats. Low quality, mature or weathered forages will be deficient in phosphorous, especially for high and average lactating does. For example, bermudagrass hay harvested at 7 to 8 weeks regrowth only contains 0.18% phosphorous. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the diet is important and should be kept about 2:1 to 3:1.

6. Vitamins

Vitamins are needed by the body in very small quantities. The vitamins most likely to be deficient in the diet are A and D. All B and K vitamins are formed by bacteria found in the rumen of the goat and are not considered dietetically essential. Vitamin C is synthesized in the body tissues in adequate quantities to meet needs.

Vitamin A is not contained in forages, but carotene found in green, leafy forages is converted into vitamin A in the body. In addition, vitamin A is stored in the liver and fat of goats during times when intake exceeds requirements. Goats consuming weathered forages or forages that have undergone long-term storage should be fed a mineral mix containing vitamin A, or should receive vitamin A injections.

Vitamin D may become deficient in animals raised in confinement barns. Animals should have frequent access to sunlight because it causes vitamin D to be synthesized under their skin, or they should receive supplemental vitamin D.

Good quality sun-cured hays are excellent sources of vitamin D. A deficiency in vitamin D results in poor calcium absorption, leading to rickets, a condition where the bones and joints of kids grow abnormally.

Fodder crops for Goats

Legume fodder crops

Grass fodders

Tree fodders

  • Subabul
  • Neem
  • Sesbania grandiflora
  • Gliricidia
  • Pithecellobium dulce
  • Ficus religiosa
  • fabaceae
  • Prosopis juliflora
  • Acacia ferruginea – Rusty Acacia

Concentrate feed ingredients

Goat Feed - What to feed and How much to feed?

Reference :

Goat Feed – agritech and nscu