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.