If you're looking for info on what to feed your goats (including the best Boer goat feed), you're in the right place! In this quick guide we cover the best feed, and throw in 5 smart tips for feeding your goats.
Some people think that goats can exist by eating just trash and cans. But to make a profit on your goats, the animals need to be fed properly. Both dairy and meat goats need to get enough nutrients to produce milk or increase mass on their carcass. There are several breeds and breed mixes available that have different types of feed requirements.
South African Boer Goats
The name boer comes from the Dutch word for farmer. They were bred in South Africa, possibly by mixing European and Indian breeds. The breed was developed to become a grazing, and fast-growing animal.
They typically start out at 5-6 kilos, and often gain a couple of hundred grams a month. Animals checked at 6 or 7 months weigh an average of 80 pounds.
Goat feed is quite important for meat breeds. Unlike dairy goats, these animals were developed to pack on muscle for the best quality of meat possible. Dairy goats may start out quite plump as kids, but typically grow leaner as time passes.
The right goat feed is essential to support and produce good quality meat. Boer goats primarily eat grazing and browsing plants. But they do need something extra to make sure they reach the right weight quickly and stay healthy.
Grazing and Browsing Plants
Boer goats often eat plants we normally consider weeds. This makes it easier for farmers to switch grazing areas between cows, sheep and goats. The important thing is to make provisions to ensure the animals don’t run out of area to forage.
One way to ensure this is by crop rotation. To make sure the animals have enough to eat through dry and cold seasons, grow plants that thrive in different seasons. The fences protecting the herd can also be adjusted or moved to lead the animals to new ground that still has plants.
Hay and Grain
These goat feeds can be used to augment the regular browsing if the goats. Hay and grains can be added to a boer goat’s diet during the winter or drought.
Grains are often used to increase weight quickly; however, take care not to overfeed the animals because this causes fat to build up around the organs.
Hay adds variation to fresh plants that can help reduce bacteria and germs. These harmful organisms live in the moisture in leaves and cannot survive dry leaves.
Aside from augmenting shortage in grazing plants, they can also stem outbreaks and infections in a herd.
In case there are nutrient or mineral shortages in the soil or the plants, minerals can be added to goat feed. These are often put in troughs so that they remain clean.
The troughs are typically high enough so that the goats are unable to dirty them. There are also medicated supplements that can be used to cure diseases and strengthen weakened goats, such as lactating dams.
5 Smart Tips for Feeding Goats
Prepare for the Future
When raising livestock on open ground, it’s best to make arrangements for different seasons. Plants are often sparse during fall and winter. This can be augmented by planting weeds and forage that can survive the colder weather. There are also feeds, like hay, that can sustain goats during the harsh months.
One thing to remember when considering the changing seasons is that weights usually fluctuate. Just as human’s tend to weigh more in the winter, goats get lighter. Does who have just given birth or are feeding kids also lose some body mass. Be realistic when setting weight expectations for the animals.
If the animals clear a land of grass, the fence can be moved to lead them to available plants. This form of crop rotation allows new forage to grow for the goats to eat. Other animals, such as cows, can also swap grazing areas with the goats, since they eat different platns.
Keep it Clean
Cleanliness is very important when feeding goats. When the animals graze, they typically defecate on the ground, right where they eat. This can propagate diseases and parasites. The land should be cleaned regularly to prevent breakouts in the goat herd.
Buy in bulk
Feeds are cheaper in bulk. Even when starting with a small goat herd, having extra feed at hand is very useful. Check the expiration date of the feed to know how long you can store them safely. Make sure to put the feeds in a cool, dry place. Extra feed can come in handy if unforeseen circumstances make animals unable to graze.
Other breeders have come up with innovative ways to maximize feed for their goats. These solutions help maintain the animal’s weights but cost less.
Mix it up
Lastly, don’t rely just on foraging and grazing. Goats need minerals. There are several mineral feeds available. Distribute mineral feeds based on the animal’s body mass. Hay would also be a good addition to foraging plants. Parasites and bacteria that live in the moisture on fresh grass cannot tolerate the dry hay.
How long do you bottle feed a baby goat?
Baby goats should only be bottle-fed if they're orphaned or if they're not getting along with the rest of herd. If they need to be bottle-fed, start weaning them off it when they're 12 weeks old.
What do you feed a baby goat?
Right after birth, baby goats will get their food from their mother. Aside from this, kids can eat small amounts of grain, hay, and pasture. As they get older, their main source of food will be hay.
How much milk do you feed a baby goat?
- Week 1: 4 oz. every 2-4 hours
- Week 2-4: 6 oz. every 4 hours
- Week 4-5: 8 oz. 4 times a day
- Week 5-6: 8 oz. 3 times a day
- Week 7-10: 10 oz. 2 time a day
- Week 10-12: 1 bottle a day
These are general estimates. Here’s a guide that will help you determine how much milk your kid needs based on their weight.
How much hay do you feed a goat?
Alfalfa hay is the most common hay used to keep goats fed. It has all the protein your goats need to stay healthy. Goats should eat about 2-3 pounds of hay twice a day.
How often do you feed a baby goat?
Goats will roam around and graze pastures all day long. You should only feed them twice a day. Additionally, goats should have access to fresh, clean water daily.
How much is goat feed?
Goat feed can cost anywhere between $9 - $12 for a 50-pound bag.
How much grain should you feed a goat per day?
Grains should make up about 20% of a goat’s diet. They don’t necessarily need grains and can survive without them.
What do you feed a pregnant goat?
Pregnant does need a surplus of nutrients and water when they’re expecting. Depending on their size, pregnant does should eat half a pound of hay and grains every day. Make sure you’re carefully monitoring their food intake. Overeating can cause complications during their pregnancy.
Where do you buy goat feed?
Goat feed can be bought online and at your local supermarket. You can also find the feed at your nearest pet store.
What should you feed a goat to help them gain weight?
Grains are full of carbohydrates that will quickly fatten up your goat. However, they’re not the healthiest food for them. To balance it out, also increase the amount of protein, vitamins, and grass that your goat eats.
How long is the goat breeding cycle
According to Goats-Extension, the reproductive cycle of a doe can last from 12-36 hours. This cycle occurs, roughly, every 18-24 days. The gestation period is 5 months.
How long should I wait before breeding my goat again?
Depending on how healthy your does are, they can be bred once every year. Some goats can even be bred twice in 18 months. The type of goat you have can also play a factor in how often you can breed them.
When should you stop breeding your goat?
Healthy does can breed until they’re 12 years old. If your doe is unhealthy and is a little more on the smaller side, then you should stop breeding them at about 8-10 years old.
How to prepare a goat for breeding
Once your goats are ready to breed, they will show signs of being heat. When you see these signs, house your buck and doe together to help them start the breeding process
What do I feed goat does before breeding?
2 months before breeding, you should up the amount of food that your bucks and does are eating. Increasing the number of grains your doe gets will help improve her ovulation rates.
What should you give a goat before breeding?
Honestly, it’s not like goats need anything special to breed. On the other hand, making sure that they’re getting plenty of nutrients and supplements (optional) will help make the breeding process easier and more efficient.
What does separating goats for breeding do?
Keeping your bucks and does separate will ensure that the bucks don’t try to breed the does too early.
What do you look for when buying a Boer goat breeding buck?
When browsing Boer bucks, look at how well their health, appearance, and conditions are. These things will show you if the buck you choose is ideal for breeding.
What is the best goat feed for:
Meat goats are easily sustained with plenty of nutritious and pesticide-free pastures. Goat feed should only be used during times when the pastures are having difficulty growing, like during the winter.
- When you’re looking for the best feed to give you goat, keep these things in mind:
- Goat feed, over time, can be expensive. Cattle feed is just as good as goat feed, and it’s cheaper.
- The feed you choose should have at least 18% fiber. This will reduce the risk of digestive problems.
- Meat goats need feed that contains lots of minerals. These minerals will help them gain weight and stay healthy.
- Acorns are a great source of nutrition for your meat goat. They contain an organic substance, known as Tannin, which helps fight off parasites. Acorns will ensure that your goat is gaining a healthy amount of weight.
According to Animal Smart, dairy goats need to eat about 5% of their body weight. The feed that they eat needs to be high in protein, energy, and minerals. Also, plenty of clean water is essential to the health and development of your dairy goat.
If your goat is milking, incorporating alfalfa pellets in their diet will ensure that your goat is getting enough calcium. Additionally, oats will help them maintain their weight during the milking season.
Now, if you want to be absolutely sure about what your diary goat is eating, then you can make your own goat feed mix. Some general ingredients that you can include in your own mixture include:
- Wet Molasses
- Goat mineral mix
- Beet pulp
- Soybean meal
For more ideas, The Goat Spot has an informational forum where people share their goat feed recipes.
Giving your dairy goat the proper nutrients will not only guarantee their health but will also boost the quality of the milk that they produce.
Before you buy any feed for your show goat, you need to determine what it is that you want to improve in your goat. Do you want them to have better muscle mass? Do you want your goats to have higher fat levels? Answering questions such as these will help you narrow down your choices, and pick the perfect feed for your show goat.
Every goat is different, and every goat farmer has their own opinion about which feed is the best. Picking the right feed for your goat all depends on what your show goats need. Here are a few tips to help you get an idea of what you should look for when choosing your feed.
- Find a feed that’s high in protein. Protein will help strengthen the muscles and improve your goat’s muscle tone.
- Make sure the feed you choose has plenty of minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
- Do your research on the brand you’re looking at to ensure that they’re using organic ingredients in their products.
As it was mentioned before, make sure that your goat is getting a good amount of fresh, clean water daily. Water is the best thing you can give your goats to keep them healthy and show ready.
At the end of the day, all goats need a healthy amount of water, protein, and minerals to thrive on the farm. Whether they're for show, milking, or meat, goats will produce high-quality products if they're given proper, nutritional treatment.
I hope this guide has at least answered a few of your questions and has given you a general idea of how to keep your goats properly fed and healthy in and out of the breeding season.