Thursday, February 23, 2012

Goat's Special Nutrition Needs

Goats are related to other ruminant cud-chewing animals such as cattle and sheep. For this reason, it was once believed that goats could be fed the same as their ruminant cousins. But goats are primarily browsers, selectively eating a wide variety of shrubs, woody plants, weeds, and briars. In fact, goats are far more similar to deer than to either cattle or sheep. Unfortunately many goats, especially does, are unable to get enough nutrients from browse alone to meet their needs. It is also important to realize that certain types of browse pose a danger, including: wild cherry, hemlock, azaleas and species of the laurel family are all poisonous to goats.

To provide the nutrition goats need to reach their full potential, supplemental feeding is needed.

Hay and pasture may vary considerably in quality and nutrient value. Of particular concern is the extreme variation that occurs in key nutrients such as protein, fiber and energy needed to promote growth and good milk production. Protein quality can also vary. Inconsistencies in quality can be influenced by climate, land use and time of year. Controlling these inconsistencies is an important part of providing the nutrition your goats need to lead healthy, productive lives. For this reason, Purina has developed a full line of goat feeds designed to take the guesswork out of feeding goats for all life and development stages.

The productivity and well-being of your goats depends largely on the quality and quantity of the feeding program you provide. Balancing your goat's feeding program and providing the correct diet ensures your goats are receiving the total sum of the daily nutrients they need for optimal health. Nutrient needs will vary depending on the goat's life stage and activity level. A feeding program balanced for maintenance, for example, will not be sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of growth, pregnancy, lactation, wool production or for developing body conditioning and coat quality for showing. As nutritional demands rise with increased production demands, it will be important to readjust your goat's diet and feeding program accordingly.

The nutrient quality of forage can vary from season to season or even field to field as discussed earlier. So, when you want your goats to thrive, you should consider adding a supplemental feed to their forage diet. Supplemental feeds, like Purina® Goat Chow® feed, provide the consistent nutrients not found in forage to ensure optimum nutrition. Supplemental feeds come in coarse grain mixtures or pelleted forms. Purina® Goat Chow® feed is a coarse grain mixture.

Roughage is an essential part of good goat nutrition. But many times good quality forage is not available to provide roughage. Complete feeds not only contain the built-in roughage goats need, but other important nutrients as well. So with a complete feed, like Purina® Meat Goat 16 or Purina® Honor® Show Chow® Goat, you know your goats are consistently receiving total nutrition in every bite. Complete feeds are convenient, too, minimizing clean-up from wasted or uneaten forage.

In addition to choosing a supplemental or complete feed, you also have a choice of feed form. One choice is a sweet feed, a highly palatable, coarse grain mix that contains molasses. Almost all goats will eat sweet feeds, making it an excellent choice for even the most finicky eater. You may choose a pelleted feed. While many goat owners feel their goats may not prefer pelleted rations, they readily eat it when it is the only source of feed available and it offers several advantages. Pelleted feeds contain all the nutritious grains, vitamins and minerals your goat needs. Pellets eliminate sorting and help prevent waste that commonly occurs with coarse grain rations, making them very efficient in commercial operations. Convenient for you and good for your goat, Purina®Goat Chow® diets are available as either a complete or supplemental feed form.

If you are unsure which feed is right for your goats, your Purina Certified Expert Dealer has all the right training and tools to help you design a feeding program especially suited to your goats' environment and lifestyle.

A library of past issues of Better Animal E—zines and an introductory video is maintained and can be accessed by clicking here. 

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St. Louis, MO  63132


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