Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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PROPER NUTRITION: THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF RAISING MEAT GOATS

The most difficult thing about raising meat goats in any managed herd is proper nutrition. That statement cannot be over-emphasized or over-stated. "Managed" means any goat that is not free ranging and in total control of its entire food supply. "Managed" therefore applies to all of our herds. Many people tend to overfeed grain concentrates (sacked feeds), but some folks seriously underfeed. Achieving the right balance is the goal. From a goat health standpoint, there is nothing wrong with goats eating grain concentrates when fed in proper amounts. In fact, grain provides essential nutrients needed by goats.

Goats need the best quality hay available. Horse-quality hay is what producers should feed their goats. Never tell a hay seller that you are buying hay for goats. That person will think that you will buy his junk hay, because he thinks that goats eat anything, even tin cans . . . the stereotyped cartoon goat. Test your hay for proper nutritional levels through testing laboratories such as Dairy One Forage Lab in New York. Buy hay from a person who raises it for a living rather than solely to keep the agricultural tax exemption on his land.

Buy loose minerals made for goats. Sweetlix Meat Maker is my choice. Do not use mineral blocks. They are too hard for goats to bite. If fescue grass is present in your area, buy a fescue balancer loose mineral. Do not offer salt blocks in addition to the loose minerals. The minerals already have salt in them. Additional salt and minerals will limit protein consumption -- and that should not be your goal.

Do not use combination protein and mineral blocks. Minerals are used as consumption limiters in protein blocks and tubs. You should want your goats to consume all they need of the protein supplement. Buy a molasses-based protein block or tub that has no minerals and no urea (non-protein nitrogen); offer it free choice alongside free choice loose minerals. Fast-growing kids and juveniles will perform much better when consuming these two products rather than the combination block.

Grain can be added in times of need. Lactating does need grain. Kids up to 12 months of age need grain. Old goats need grain and supplements such as beet pulp to add fiber to their diets as their teeth wear out, making chewing difficult. Mature goats probably need the least amount of grain if they are on sufficient land to have adequate forage/browse/pasture. Winter is definitely a time of need for grain. So are times of drought, heavy rain that makes pastures unavailable, and other severe climatic conditions. Grain should be fed in the morning rather than in the evening. Feeding grain at night, particularly in winter, can result in ruminal acidosis and even death because the goat may fill up on grain and not get enough long fiber from hay to keep the rumen functioning to keep its body warm. Other than does nursing triplets, quadruplets, or more kids on them, there is no reason to feed grain to meat goats twice a day.

Goats have the fastest metabolisms of all ruminants. They utilize their feed rapidly. Proper nutrition is essential. If you are going to raise goats, raise the best goats that you can. That means feeding them properly. Feeding properly costs money. If you aren't willing to spend feed money to produce quality animals, then raising goats isn't what you should be doing.

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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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