Grass feeding goats

Discussion in 'Goats' started by jzuniga, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. jzuniga

    jzuniga New Member

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    Does anyone grass feed their goats (no grain, even for milkers)?
    My friend has stopped feeding grain altogether, and says that her goats are looking better than they ever did w/ grain, she just feeds grass hay & alfalfa pellets. She claims that milk from grass fed goats is much healthier & that consuming milk or meat from a grain fed animal can cause joint problems in the people eating/drinking it. Also can cause joint problems for the goats.
    I know that grass fed beef/cow milk is popular, and cows are ruminants like goats, but they are a different animal. So, I am wondering if goats would be missing out on some nutrients if you grass fed them? How would this affect them for breeding/milking? Just curious about some other opinions on this subject. :shrug:
     
  2. fishhead

    fishhead Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lots of people say their goats won't eat much grass but mine seem to like the tall quackgrass that grows on my dikes. I don't think they would like a steady diet of it though. They do prefer certain "weeds" and willows over the grass most of the time.
     

  3. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

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    my goats will eat japanese honeysuckle foremost, sawbriars and sassafras sprouts. if I stay there with them. If I don't they will hang out at the chickenhouse and try to get at the chickenfeed. they would eat nothing but corn if I would let them. worse than a kid with candy. they have 40 acres of wonderful browse and what do they do...I hear momma goats bell ringing right now at the chickenhouse.
     
  4. valhalladad

    valhalladad Active Member

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    The quick answer is you get out what you put in. A case in point is that I had a pair of twin does. One of the does I sold as a milking yearling and one I kept as a replacement milker. Two years later both goats were at our local fair. The other breeder didn't feed grain, but did supliment with bakery products. I use a 18% grain mixture. It was my formula which had minerals added. He complained of too much milk at about 6 pounds(3 quarts) and I was complaining mine only gave a little over 10 pounds. Goats know they need more than just grass. We have used selective breeding for many years to produce a milk factory and the natural diet is no long adequate for the animal. Beware of too much whole corn. Goats do love it, but it can cause problems. Chicken feed is usually medicated and can cause problems. Medicated feed means medicated milk. My rule was not enough feed and too little milk. Too much feed and a fat goat with less milk. The amount of feed a goat gets is controlled by what is in the bucket. Every goat vet and top breeder I ever talked to has said the same. Goats are browsers and need the protein for that. Grass just doesn't have enough. I have found a lot of times some breeders justify their actions by saying it is better for you or the goats. The same people play this game with CAE which I won't get into here.
     
  5. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

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    i think they are feeding you a bunch of crap, grain fed animals are not bad for you, CHEMICALLY FED animals ARE, if you dont feed grain you wont get good growth or milk out put, its a fact of life and not a negotiable one,

    comercially prepaird feed that has alot of chemicals and additives are not good to feed to anything, and you will end up with problems later, but naturally grain fed animals are the best available,.
     
  6. christij

    christij Well-Known Member

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    I don't like feeding prepacked feed but I only have two soon to be four goats ( 2NDs and 2 Nubian milkers) so I'm not sure what my grain options are since I don't need a ton of feed...... suggestions anyone?
     
  7. goatkid

    goatkid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What folks are talking about when they refer to grass fed animals versus grain fed ones is this: grass fed dairy animals are allowed pasture and browse, are not fed growth hormones and antibiotics and are fed natural grains when they are milked or young animals. Older wethers do not have to be fed grain and actually do better on a diet of browse or grass hay supplemented with alfalfa pellets. Grain fed livestock are those animals raised on feed lots. I don't know about goats, but cattle are fed growth hormones and antibiotics, get little exercise and are pushed to grow fast. These animals are raised for meat.
    Dairy goats are healthiest when fed grain twice a day at milking time and have a diet which includes browse or grass hay and alfalfa.
     
  8. kathy H

    kathy H kathyh

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    Grass feed dairy animals have more[ ok brain freeze] I think the letters are C L A which is healthyer. Too much grain can cause Ecoli[?] as the rumen is to acidice?
     
  9. Idahoe

    Idahoe Menagerie More~on

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    You and I must have goats who are close relatives :D . My goats have 20 acres to graze on, planted with pasture mix last winter as well as wild roses, bearberry leaves, vine maple, clover . . .

    They do eat their fill, and then they start following me . . . or they lurk just off the deck (they'd be on it if not for the dogs) staring at the front of the house willing me to appear. If I do, they do that cute goatie trot toward me bawling.

    They will risk life and limb for chickenfeed . . . twice in the last month I did not precisely latch the gate to the chicken yard :rolleyes: and they ate the entire half full feeder. The second time, there was very little feed thank God. I mentioned in another post I was flattened by Louise, my calico LaMancha doe, when she dove through the space between me and the gate while I was trying to push a wheelbarrow of chicken poo out. Her daughter Daisy then jumped into the wheelbarrow and knocked it over. In trying to grab another goat (they were all in there before I got up!) I slipped in the slimey wet clay around the goose kiddie pool and was on my back again.

    I use an empty coffee creamer can (the big kind from Costco) to scoop chickenfeed. I was in the garden picking tomatos and I heard one of the kids making an unusually distressed cry. I found one of the wethers with the coffee creamer can stuck over his head, his poor mama (Louise) following and very upset, too. Another wether entered an empty bag of chicken feed but could not get his head out (he is half Saanen and has the airplane ears). Yes, I have become much better about where I "hide" things.

    Multiple, multiple times they have broken into the woodshed to gorge on chicken scratch and BOSS. Luckily, it is attatched to the house and to get in they have to rattle a cattle panel which calls the dogs like a whistle. They might get a few bites before they are harassed back out by the dogs.

    I joke with DH about putting a fence up around the house to keep the animals away from us :D . Today, I lost a pencil, the measuring tape, a large roll of plaster tape and ALMOST lost a new roll of toilet paper -- all from geese and puppies trying to assist me in fixing up my brooder house. The toilet paper was DH's fault for sitting a new roll on the floor :grump: :moron: ! Not with two 3 month old border collies . . . oh yeah, and one of the doelings spilled a bowl of nails and screws. The plaster tape will show up again when someone drags it out to play with it, the measuring tape may too, but the pencil is history. The geese have taken two or three pencils now and they disappear. They seem to crave the pencils . . . oops, I'll save this for the other forum :D .
     
  10. KSALguy

    KSALguy Lost in the Wiregrass Supporter

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    um No, Grain fed means they are fed GRAIN, not Hormones, Grain fed livestock also have access to Hay and pasture if they are on the farm, if they are grain fed in a feed lot that meast that they are fed Corn or Wheat or some other grain to finnish them off for market,

    if they are NOT grain fed THAT is when the comercial crap comes in,
    haveing been born and raised in Kansas near tones of Feedlots and haveing taken AG science in collage this is what you learn

    as to what to feed your goats for milking, you can get a bag of whole oats and some Cracked corn from the feed store, and mix this with Alfalfa pellets and you have a good high calori food for milk production and no added crap from the comercial stuff
    stick with natural grain like corn, wheat, milo, oats, you can also use Black Oil Sunflower seed and mix that in with the other stuff
     
  11. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

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    and says that her goats are looking better than they ever did w/ grain,
    ...............................

    What really does this mean? Look better than what? How about something a little more tangible for milking? What was her rolling herd average for milk on grain compared to grass? Lets see some photos of those top milkers milking everyday for 10 months on grass.

    Alfalfa pellets are fine, they are the backbone of my feeding program, but I wouldn't want to see what my girls would look like milking for 10 months without grain. I couldn't even imgaine the metobolic disease my does would have during pregnancy, kidding out 3 or 4 kids with no energy in the diet, they simply need the carbs during pregnancy.

    You have to remember that like what was posted above, you are not talking about wild mountain goats here, we have bred these does to milk, generations of increased volume on a more and more dairy frame. Dairy means they put extra calories into milk, not body mass. If you want a doe who milks a quart a day of good rich milk for 4 months than milk Boers.

    Goats are not cows, they are browzers. In the south a doe who is left on pasture only for her diet will simply reparasite herself, usually to her own demise. Grassfed goats in my area are also the most heavily wormed animals. All defficency in your area is compounded by them only having a diet that comes from your farmland. Minerals would become a huge consideration, copper bolusing an every three month chore.

    The problem is always when you become militant about anything, it blinds you from common sense. An improved pasture would be legumes and grains, the tops of the long grass would be grains, so it's OK to eat grains on pasture but not dried? Then she justifies it with a bunch of made up stuff that if a goat eats grain you become allegic to the milk? So only grain makes casein in the milk? So since I am allergic to corn, if I drink my goats milk, because my does do have some corn in their milkstand ration, I should be allergic to my goats milk? Nonesense. Not you...her!

    valhalladad, welcome to the board! Nice to hear some good old fashion common sense! Vicki
     
  12. toomb68

    toomb68 Well-Known Member

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    same here too......mine have tons of nice browse....will go eat it if i go with them....otherwise they lay at the gate and scream for me.....and they have climbed thru the chicken coop door once or twice also....its like crack cocaine to them....
     
  13. witchysharon

    witchysharon Well-Known Member

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    Feeding grass hay and alfalfa pellets is probably ok if the goats are also getting plenty of browse. Goats are browsers, not grazers, and prefer 10% grass which is opposite to the diet of cattle and horses, which prefer 90% grass.

    Goats are browsers for a reason. They have a higher nutritional requirement than most ruminants or other animals. Weeds, shrubs, forbs, tree bark, branches, leaves etc. are plants that have very deep root systems, extending deep into the soil's sub-layers and are able to extract minerals and nutrients not available at the ground’s surface. Alfalfa and other legumes, for instance, have root systems that can be 20 feet or more deep. Grass roots are mostly shallow and only go inches deep rather then feet, therefore grass is not as nutrient dense as browse. A goat will be unhealthy and could possibly die from malnutrition if it is on a grass only diet that isn't supplemented in any way.

    Most goats will do fine on grass hay/alflafa pellets/browse....however, i don't think it is wise to completely eliminate grain from milkers as Vicki pointed out.
     
  14. jzuniga

    jzuniga New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your answers/input!
    I just want to do what is best for my goats, and I feel that
    cutting something like grain out of their diet would leave them open for problems somewhere down the road. I am glad that others agree. I feed my goats whole grains, nothing w/ chemicals or processing, along w/ alfalfa pellets. My goats look wonderful & the one that is milking is doing great! (8 lbs/day from a FF)
    Don't know what hers are looking like now since I haven't seen them in a while, I do know she is having trouble keeping weight on, but she is planning on breeding her 3 does this fall, so I hope there are no problems!
     
  15. Jcran

    Jcran Well-Known Member

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    quote:
    .......they will hang out at the chickenhouse and try to get at the chickenfeed. they would eat nothing but corn if I would let them. worse than a kid with candy. they have 40 acres of wonderful browse and what do they do...I hear momma goats bell ringing right now at the chickenhouse.

    I call corn "goat crack".
     
  16. pokyone42

    pokyone42 Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah! Corn and goats... HMMMM! Turns them into monsters from HELL, lol! In fact, just tonight, while hubby was closing the big barn door, I was holding Nina and her kid Laverne... (so they would not escape...and together, they weigh about 250 pounds, to my 115..lol) when papa goat started to take the gate down to close the barn, Mama and daughter decided they wanted the goose corn, and dragged me (LOL) all the way out of the barn to that blessed bowl of heaven!-goose-corn!!!! WITCHES! (granted, I am small..... what the heck made me think I could hold them back? lol..of course hubby just watched and laffed, as I hollered and was drug on my knees...,) They each got a mouthful, and were very happy with that, and so fortunately, I was able to lead them back into the barn. lol...goats can be SUCH troublemakers! Gotta love em tho.. they sure do make us laugh alot!
     
  17. valhalladad

    valhalladad Active Member

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    One added bit of information. I just checked Goat Medicine by DR Mary Smith of Cornell. She is probably one of the best Goats vets in the country. In short she says goats need a good feed mix. If you can access the book it covers what they need in detail. Trust me too much whole corn can be dangerous to your goat. I almost lost one of my nicest goats because she couldn't resist it. I had to lock her up for a few days while it worked though her system. I can't remember my complete formula anymore, but it was whole corn, whole oats, sunflower seeds, rolled soybean, a protein supplement and minerals. I used it for many years and had heavy milkers. Most of our goats ate their feed and left the other stuff alone. As with all kids(2 or 4 legged) you always have a couple that have to break the rules. Dr Smith also says buck need feed but watch calcium and phosphorus ratios. I don't have the book here at this time to quote exactly but can quote it if necessary. Sorry to be so long.