Anyone feed goats natural diet successfully?

Discussion in 'Goats' started by outofmire, Jun 25, 2005.

  1. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

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    I really hate using commercial animal feeds because of the vast amounts of pesticides in some of the ingredients.....cottonseed meal to name one. Our reasons for raising animals for food is to be healthier, first and foremost, and then secondly to be more independent.

    Anyone use natural ingredients with success? By natural ingredients, I am referring to a diet that is as natural as possible for a goat. Anyone just use pasture alone? that would be the ideal of course, and I'm sure one would surely sacrifice some milk quantity, but wouldn't the quality be healthier. Same with organic produce; it's smaller but more nutritionally dense.
     
  2. chas

    chas Well-Known Member

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    I pasture feed and have good quality clover/alfalfa/grass hay.Also I keep mineralized salt blocks free choice for them.I also raise organic pumpkins .they eat the unsold ones into the winter.At milking they get enough comercial feed to get them to hop up on the milkstand.
    I sold three bucklings to be raised for 4H meat competition at our farm show this fall.So they must look pretty good,because these kids do quite well in competition!!
    I'm still experimenting and learning and having fun doing it.Good luck in what ever you try.
    Chas
     

  3. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You can buy organic grain at $16 for 50# or commercial for half.

    At some point you will have to worm....in my experience the herbal wormers were not enough so I had to use Ivermec to save my herd.

    It is also best to start babies on hay as it helps to "culture" their rumen. I have fed hay all winter with absolutly no grain, with pumpkins and christmas trees on the side and temps -20 to -30...we had trips out of one doe that year. But once lactating grain on the milk stand is something they look forward to.

    I cant afford to be organic...time wise as well as money wise but I try to go as natural as possible.

    You might try raising a bunch of corn and drying or silaging it. Sunflowers are also good for goats. Mine love tomato leftovers from canning. Apple peels are also relished.
     
  4. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

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    You might run into a problem with a forage only diet for heavy milking does. If they have good production genetics, they will use body fat and then muscle to make milk if they don't have grain to make milk with. Some does will run themselves down to skeletons before they cut milk production.

    I feed "transitional" 13% dairy grain. Farmers going from conventional to organic have a three year transition where their produce can't be sold as organic, but it is produced in a certifiable organic way. $7.25/50#.

    Forage is prime grade local alfalfa and native prairie grass pasture. We are on test and last rolling herd average was 2499 so the organic sure isn't slowing down production!

    I also tried staying with herbs for wormers- have white sage and wormwood in pasture and fed it dried as a treat but still had unacceptable fecals. Ended up doing Eprinex.

    Does with lower production do tend to have higher butterfat and protein, so smaller amounts of milk would be more nutritionally dense.
     
  5. sheep tamer

    sheep tamer former HT member

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    Didn't want to disappoint anyone and not give my usual reply. :rolleyes:

    Our homestead does not do drugs...even for worming.
    We routinely sprinkle D.E. on concentrates to reduce
    parasite build ups. We use a naturally mined salt with
    trace minerals intact called, REAL salt. Our concentrate
    is made by a local mill consisting of a blend of grains
    suited for goats w/the appropriate vitamins. (Not alot
    of corn as it puts on weight) We buy the best alfalfa/
    alfalfa blend hay we can. Organically grown grains and
    hay would be our first choice but we can't buy it in bulk
    here. Probiotics are good for building up natural immunity
    before sickness overtakes the herd. We leaves kids on
    the does at least a month, though it's harder to wean,
    it's the route we prefer.

    I encourage more out there to break the new tradition
    to medicate the life out of everything.
     
  6. rhjacobi

    rhjacobi Well-Known Member

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    Hi Shae,

    Except for kids, we normally don't feed anything to our adults except some mineral supplements or some additional protein supplements in late pregnancy/early kidding and some hay. The dairy folks might have some other considerations that wouldn't be applicable to our Boer goat operation.

    In southern Tennessee, we also have an advantage because it is very nutrient rich and we have a long growing season (usually sometime in February and right into December). We keep our goats per acre down so that they pretty much have some pasture all year around, even some left during the short winter. We normally get large hay bales (1300 to 1500 pounds) and we probably only average about 20% to 30% of a bale per adult goat per year - Probably about half in the winter and about half during our rainy season. For a lot of the country this may not be possible, but to the extent that it is possible, we keep it as natural as possible.

    Bob
    Lynchburg, TN.
     
  7. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

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    We have a situation similar to Bob's. Long growing season (SE Ohio), really dense brambles, honeysuckly, grapevine and other tasty goodies, and 8 goats + 1 cow foraging on 15 acres.

    Most of the year, they eat browse only with a nightly cup (1 cup total "shared" by 8 goats) of corn and sweet feed. The grain is used as a bed time snack and as a reward for going into the high-security night pasture for the evening.

    We generally only need hay in February and very early March when the woods are totally barren. Even then, the goats thin out saplings (eradicating baby pines and sugar maple) and still get a lot of the food from the land.

    This is our first year with the cow, so we might need to up the hay a bit during the lean months.

    The natural diet has our goats in incredible condition. The combination of exercise (steep hills and goat lumberjacking activity) and free choice of nutriet rich and varied browse has them more sleek, shiney, and muscled up than most other goats we've seen (the exception being the others in the area with similar access to hilly dense browse.) The vet is always impressed, especially with the condition of the doe we have who's nursing two kids.

    We don't produce meat or milk for human consumption, so I can't really say if this much lean muscle or browse-only milk would be right for a meat or milk herd. For strong, active, healthy landscaping crew goats, though, free ranging them has been great. It also pays off in being mentally stimulating for them, which we think keeps them happier, more alert and involved with their surroundings, and (we may be biased here) smarter than the grain fed barn potatoes.

    Lynda
     
  8. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    My goats have pasture/browse. They get alfalfa pellets, and timothy hay. (Well, right now it's coastal bermuda, which they hate, but it's what was available!) Everyone gets a bite of grain at milking time, and the milking does get their measure of grain. I don't keep bucks or wethers beyond butchering age or breeding time, so don't have to worry about calci. I buy whole grain wheat, oats, and corn by the 55 gallon drum (~$25/drum) It's not organic, but I like it better than pelleted feed that I don't know what's in there! I mix one part corn to two parts each of wheat and oats, and increase the corn a bit in the winter. Salt/minerals and baking soda available at all times, too.

    I worm with commercial wormers. Usually, I do a fecal before, worm, then run another fecal two weeks later to see if that wormer was effective. New goats get wormed without testing first, just for GP. Then I'll test and see what's what.

    They get CD&T, and tetanus as needed, for disbudding and castrating. I'm thinking about bottle feeding kids next year. Maybe just the bucklings, so I will have them separate to start with, and don't have to worry about castrating them.

    That's me and my few goats.
    Meg
     
  9. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

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    As far as alfalfa, all I can find here in Arkansas for my goats is either alfalfa cubes, pellets, or bags of chopped alfalfa hay that comes in plastic wrapped bales like peat moss comes in. Which of those would be better? I've often wondered how they make pellets and cubes anyway. How do they compress it and make it stay like that? They must add something to they hay. They really like the plastic wrapped alfalfa bales, but it seems like the leaves all basically powered. They like it better than the grass hay; that's for sure!

    Should there be any concern about the chemical fertilizers they hay growers use. Seems like I read a research article about it once, but I can't remember the details. Also, not to sound too dumb, but how do the growers get a pure stand of alfalfa? Do they use herbicides or anything?
     
  10. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the responses!