The nutrient requirements essential for growth in goats are energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water.

The major source of energy is hay, grain and pasture browsing. Hay is an essential food in the goat's diet and vital for dietary fibre. The addition of good quality hay with food concentrates will help to avoid problems with bloat and digestive upsets.
Goats often avoid very coarse hay that consists mainly of stalks. Lucerne hay is also mostly wasted because the goats will often eat only the young soft shoots, the flowers and leaves.

NOTE Lucerne hay is high in calcium and it is not advisable to feed Lucerne hay and Lucerne chaff as the soul roughage to bucks and wethers as it can cause urinary calculi.

Goats should never be fed mouldy hay and if hay is fed on the ground and becomes soiled, the goats will not usually eat it and there is also the possibility it will be contaminated with parasites from the goat's droppings. Good husbandry is to feed the hay off the ground ideally in a hay feeder See 'Equiptment for sale' page for design, availability and details.

Protein is mainly obtained from pasture but if the pasture content is lacking in protein, the diet should be supplemented with feeds such as barley which is an excellent feed, rolled wheat and bran and lupins. Lupins should be feed with care, as they are very high in protein and risky to feed in quantity to goats.
Goats require several different minerals, notably calcium, phosphorus, dolomite, iron, iodine, selenium and copper. Goats in their natural state are a browsing animal that finds nutrients in the trees and shrubs, and in good pasture. The roots of the trees and shrubs go much deeper in the soil than pasture, and their leaves etc contain many minerals. If the soil is mineral deficient minerals in a commercial mineral mix may be added to the goats diet.

Correct amounts of vitamins and minerals are required for seasonal cycling, breeding, birthing and even hair colour and texture.

The vitamins required to maintain a goat's health are vitamin A, B12, C, D and E

Vitamin A A goat's body converts carotene found in green feed.
Vitamin B12 (cobalt) is required for the synthesis of B12.
Remineralising the soil with the required minerals can rectify cobalt deficiencies in the soil. Feeding seaweed meal ad lib will help as seaweed meal contains al the minerals in natural form.
Vitamin C Unlike humans who must obtain their vitamin C from food sources, the liver of an adult goat makes approximately 10,000 mg of vitamin C per day.
Vitamin D Is synthesized when animals are in the sunlight.
Vitamin E Is an antioxidant and low vitamin E is often associated with a selenium deficiency. But should not arise in goats as it is found in well grown grains especially wheat.

Dietary fibre is found in good-quality hay. Hay should be available at all times and held in hayracks and not be fed on the ground. Wastage can be recycled to the garden or the chook house.

Goats need clean fresh water, which should be available at all times. In the hot summer a lactating doe can drink up to ten litres of water in a day.

Goats need a balanced diet to remain active and to stay healthy. Feeding your animals with care and commitment you will be rewarded with happy animals who will be relatively free of illness and will display good health and give you years of companionship and love.

Feed is the largest cost associated with raising and breeding goats.

Goats are ruminants; this means they have a stomach composed of four compartments - rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasums.
The rumen serves as a large fermentation vat in which microorganisms act upon the food that has been eaten. Goats digest their food with live bacteria. When a goat eats roughage such as hay or pasture, they add saliva to this material and swallow it, later they regurgitate this material and chew it more thoroughly. This process is called rumination.

Goats in a domestic situation are usually on grass pasture, their diet can be supplemented with the same as their bush cousins by introducing the more nutritious weeds, leaves and safe and eatable shrubs and trees. Goats do consume trace minerals from good quality hay and feed. A loose supply of minerals or a mineral feed block are available from local feed stores and it is good part of your feeding practice that they should be offered to your goat. Animals are very in tune with their bodies and if needing the supplement they will certainly seek it out. Many feed companies offer complete goat feeds- pellet or muesli type goat mixes, which are convenient and ideal for the small goat owner.
Fodder trees can be a supplementary food source and have excellent nutrient values.
The goats willingly eat trees such as tagasaste (tree Lucerne), pine trees, all wattles, paulownias and bottlebrush. Extreme care must be taken as many plants and trees in the garden are toxic to goats. Trees and plants such as avocados, oleanders, peach, tomatoes, rhubarb, potatoes, apricot are toxic to animals.
When feeding goats tree cuttings and garden rubbish, always check it is safe for the goats to consume before giving them to your animals.
Just because a goat likes to eat a certain plant or grain, does not mean it is good for them.
I have a personal rule if I don't know for certain; it is not put in the paddocks. The Agriculture Department in your State will be able to help you with this information.

The goat's digestive system is sensitive and fine-tuned and sudden changes in the goat's diet should be treated with care.
Good advice from a very knowledgeable and experienced breeder when I first started my Stud said to me ' if it works, do not change it' those words often remind me to consider any changes carefully so as to not upset a good feeding regime
Introduce new food gradually as it can cause severe digestive upsets such as bloat, scouring and over eating disease Enterotoxaemia also known as Pulpy Kidney which can be very sudden and difficult to treat. You can help prevent over eating disease by vaccinating once a year.

Take care feeding cereal grains and Lucerne to wethers and bucks as they are high in phosphorous but low in calcium and can lead to Urinary Calculi or kidney stones.

Feed should be stored in clean secure containers and not contaminated by rodents in the feed shed.

Goat kids will begin nibbling on hay and grain as young as two weeks of age and start to explore different tastes, their diet should be supplemented with grain, minerals and hay. At around three months old the mothers will begin to gradually wean kids from their milk. Nutrition will determine a kid's growth rate and goats receiving inadequate diets are more prone to disease and ill health.

Many people have the belief that a goat will eat anything and instinctively know if something is not good for them. Both statements are a fallacy.
Goats are fussy and there are some foods that they will not eat, new foods should always be introduced slowly.

My daily feeding program for my goats involves hay ad-lib meaning hay is available at all times. The hay is stored and fed from a specially designed metal hay- rack. Unique in design, it is very strong and well made and has a curved opening lid to enable adding hay as required. The hay is assessable at all times to the goats and more importantly protected from all weather conditions. See 'Equiptment for sale' page for design, availability and details.

Daily the goats are feed out a muesli type mix that I make up each day in a concrete mixer. The mix is similar to the commercial goat mix you can buy in the feed stores It consists of a measured quantity of whole barley soaked in apple cider vinegar and the addition of the mineral copper, which is then added to the dry ingredients of oaten and Lucerne chaff, pollard, seaweed meal, dolomite and a small amount of measured sulphur.
Additions vary throughout the week to include maize, sunflower seeds, lupins, goat pellets, chopped carrots, pumpkin and apple.
When food is scare in the paddocks in the summer months I supplement the diet with branches of wattle, bottlebrush and tree-lucerne trees, which we have planted on the property.
This food mix and the way I do operate my Stud, is based on the excellent advice and information in the book - Natural Goat & Alpaca Care by Pat Coleby - second edition.
I do recommend the reading of this book to new and experienced Breeders of Goats, as it is absolutely my bible in goat care and a wealth of excellent easy to understand information.

Please note I am not a vet. Articles written on this site are for reference only and are my experience and knowledge of keeping goats and how I care for my goats at Plumbago Stud.

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