Friday, October 5, 2012

Essential Nutrients

Essential Nutrients
You’ve seen it all on the feed tags, but understanding the essential nutrients your goats need will give you confidence that they’re getting the highest quality of nutrition. For goats, the ular nutrients they need include carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and, of course, water.

There are two types of carbohydrates, structural and non-structural soluble carbohydrates, both of which are important parts of a goat feeding and nutrition program.
  • Structural Carbohydrates are commonly referred to as "Fiber." These carbohydrates contribute to the forage portion of a diet. In a complete pelleted diet, additional fiber sources may be the hulls of grains. A goat itself cannot digest structural fiber carbohydrates like it can sugars and starches. The digestible fiber is fermented by the microbes in the goat’s rumen, producing volatile fatty acids (VFA’s), which are then absorbed. These VFA’s are a main source of energy for the goat.

  • Non-Structural Soluble Carbohydrates are primarily starches and sugars. Starches, which come mostly from grain, and sugars are also key energy sources for the goat. Both starches and sugars can be digested two ways; like fiber, they can be fermented into VFA’s in the rumen, or they can flow through the rumen and be digested by enzymes in the small intestine. When digested in the small intestine, they quickly convert to glucose, which can be used immediately or stored in the muscles as glycogen. Both glucose and VFA’s provide the energy needed for growth. Glucose is the only source of energy the brain can use.
Fats are excellent sources of energy. Fats contain more than twice the calories per pound than either carbohydrates or protein, so adding fat to the diet allows the goat to ingest more calories in a smaller quantity of feed. However, ruminants like goats have a limited ability to utilize fat. Fat also tends to be an expensive source of energy, so goats typically are not fed high-fat diets. In addition, too much fat can negatively impact fiber digestion.

Minerals are involved in the formation of structural components in the body, muscular contraction, enzyme activity, oxygen transport, energy transfer — the list of important duties performed by minerals is very long! Some minerals are also integral parts of amino acids, proteins, vitamins, enzymes and hormones. Levels of major minerals (macrominerals) are critical, especially for young, growing animals.

Calcium and phosphorus are two macrominerals of great importance. Goats require calcium and phosphorus in relatively large amounts for bone growth and maintenance. Growing kids especially need adequate amounts of calcium and phosphorus as they are still experiencing active skeletal growth and development. However, lactating requires adequate calcium for milk production as well.

Of particular importance is the ratio of calcium: phosphorus in the goat’s diet. Excess phosphorus or an imbalance in the calcium: phosphorus ratio can increase the potential for urinary calculi. Goat diets should contain approximately twice as much calcium as phosphorus, and phosphorus should not be fed in high amounts.

Other important macrominerals include sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and sulfur. Salt (sodium chloride) will help stimulate water consumption, which helps reduce the formation of urinary stones by keeping the urine more dilute. Magnesium and sulfur levels are usually adequate in typical diets fed to goats.

Trace minerals are those required in small amounts by the goat. Essential trace minerals include cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc. Deficiencies and/or imbalances of trace minerals may cause decreased growth rate, lowered resistance to disease, lack of stamina and reduced reproductive rate. Copper is of particular interest. Goats have a higher requirement for copper than do sheep yet are often fed sheep feeds that not only have no added copper but also have added molybdenum, which interferes with copper absorption to help keep the sheep from absorbing too much copper from their diet. Thus to ensure the proper balance of copper and other minerals, not to mention optimal performance, a goat-specific mineral should always be fed when a mineral is offered.

Protein (Amino Acids)
Proteins are composed of amino acids, which are the building blocks for muscle, organs, hair, bone and a key component of milk. Ruminants like goats can obtain their protein from two sources. The first will be dietary amino acids that the goat consumes. The second source will be the microbial protein that is produced by fermentation of feed in the rumen. Microbial protein is usually the main source of protein and amino acids that the goat will digest and absorb.

Vitamins are another micro-nutrient required by the goat in small amounts to help utilize nutrients for growth, maintenance, reproduction and performance. The ruminal microorganisms are able to synthesize many of the vitamins needed by the goat, including vitamin K and the B-complex vitamins.

Vitamins are divided into two general categories: fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and water-soluble vitamins (B-complex). High quality pasture and forages are rich sources of vitamins, however, mature forage and forage that has been stored for an extended time lose much of this vitamin activity. Therefore, vitamin supplementation of these forages is often necessary.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A requirements of goats can sometimes be met by carotene, which is found in all fresh green forages. However, the carotene content of forages decreases with time, so even if hay is stored properly, a significant amount of carotene will be broken down after as little as six months. To insure an adequate body supply of vitamin A, a goat feed or supplement should be fed.

  • Vitamin D: While goats that are exposed to sunlight will receive a significant amount of vitamin D, to ensure that dietary needs are met, goat feeds and supplements should be fortified with vitamin D3.

  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a key component in the antioxidant system, which helps maintain various tissue functions and supports immune response. Fresh forages are very high in vitamin E, but dried forages like hay rapidly loose their vitamin E activity. Thus, goat feeds and supplements should be fortified with vitamin E.

  • B-Complex Vitamins: The various B-complex vitamins are all synthesized by microbes during the ruminal fermentation of carbohydrates. Thus, the supplementation of the B-complex vitamins is not necessary in a goat diet.
Goats will survive a long time without food, but just a few days without water would be fatal. Goats need to drink a lot of water, at least four times their intake of dry food. A safe general recommendation is to provide goats with all the clean water that they will drink (ad libitum intake). Insufficient water intake will reduce feed intake and may contribute to formation of urinary calculi. Lactating goats also need to consume more water when they are producing in milk. A lactating goat will consume 2-3 pounds of water for every pound of milk produced.

To encourage water intake, be sure goats have a constant source of clean, fresh water. Make sure that it is accessible at all times to all goats in the herd (this may mean having more than one watering station). Have the water tested if you suspect problems; the water should be free of organic contaminants, minerals, salt, heavy metals, and stray voltage. This last one is difficult for a human to detect, yet a goat’s delicate lips easily sense the electrical charge in the water. Stray voltage is often a common cause of inadequate water intake. If your water is clean and fresh but the animals are reluctant to drink it, suspect stray voltage. Water should never be frozen or fouled with feed, dirt or manure. Goats are finicky; they will drink enough to live, but if you wouldn’t drink their water, chances are they are not drinking as much of it as they should be.

Since increased water intake can help reduce the potential for urinary calculi, water intake should always be encouraged. Increased water consumption will help flush excess minerals out of the kidneys, which helps prevent stones from forming. Likewise, goats should never be deprived of water or held off of water prior to shows (a practice that some follow to make a goat’s muscles look more defined). This greatly increases the risk of forming urinary stones. 
Getting to Know Purina® Noble Goat® Dairy Parlor 16
Purina® Noble Goat® Dairy Parlor 16 is an all-natural*, fully fortified pelleted feed designed for optimum milk production in lactating dairy goats. Its special formula delivers the nutrition and performance your goat needs and provides the difference in overall growth and health you expect from Purina Mills. The ingredients found in all Noble Goat® products are carefully selected based on Purina’s® expert research, so you know that you’re getting quality, productivity, and value in each bag.

  • Nutritionally balanced: provides the proper balance of high-quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
  • Appetizing, high quality ingredients: consistent quality ensures top performance and goat acceptability
  • Diamond V® Yeast Culture: helps maximize feed digestion and stabilizes rumen fermentation during stress
  • Availa-4® minerals: balanced combination of organic zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt for optimum growth and immune system support
  • Pelleted: minimal separation of ingredients, easy to handle
Remember that feed consumption will vary with life stage, environment, and activity. Also, be sure adequate amounts of fresh, clean water are always available. This product is available regionally, so please check with your local Purina Mills dealer for ordering details.

*with added vitamins, minerals and amino acids

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