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How badly do goats need grain?

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  • How badly do goats need grain?

    I have been reading Joel Salatin, and I have a sheep/cow farmer friend who swears by not feeding ruminants grain. On the other hand, everything I have read about goats says that a little grain is good for them, especially if you are milking. I must say I am a bit confused. I wonder if, ideally they would be grass fed, but raised in a small space they need grain? Perhaps? I know they need lots of hay and can eat some garden veggies and sunflower seeds.

  • #2
    Originally posted by RutabagaGirl View Post
    I have been reading Joel Salatin, and I have a sheep/cow farmer friend who swears by not feeding ruminants grain. On the other hand, everything I have read about goats says that a little grain is good for them, especially if you are milking. I must say I am a bit confused. I wonder if, ideally they would be grass fed, but raised in a small space they need grain? Perhaps? I know they need lots of hay and can eat some garden veggies and sunflower seeds.
    I have a study paper that shows that dairy goats that have been fed mulberry leaves will increase their production.

    Introducing grain to ruminants must be done slowly so the microbes in the gut flora can get used to the new feed. I reckon they probably do eat a bit of grain naturally, but more of the green stuff hanging from trees rather than dried corn or such. Tagasaste would fit the bill.

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    • #3
      Where abouts in the world are you?
      Do you have really cold winters?really hot dry summers?

      A family friend had a goat dairy farm a few hours north of Auckland(I miss that place. learnt to milk goats by hand there...)
      The farm was rough with alot of gorse and 'weeds' which the goats loved,which is why they chose goats.
      Their goats did get hay in winter, which wasnt very cold to be honest-it wasnt cold enough for them to need a shed and there were plenty of trees and scrubby land to get shelter from the winds-they dont like cold wet wind.

      Goats are top feeders(will eat trees) and browsers rather than grazers,(cows and sheep are grazers), although, they will love your neighbours turnip crop just cos its on the other side of their fence.
      Our friends had this farm for years.
      They will eat out all your thistles and gorse and will tell you they need to be moved -they will move themselves over your fences when things arent to their liking.
      They werent ever fed grain or seeds, but then none of our livestock in NZ are grain fed.
      Why would you when grass and trees/scrub grow so readily.

      'The complete herbal for farm and stable', by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, is a good book to have in your personal library and has quite alot on things for goats.
      I think this is a great book for everyone to have unless they have pigs exclusively.
      She is of Turkish descent and decided not to include pigs on religious grounds.

      I got my copy from The Book Depository(UK).
      It's only a mistake if you don't learn from it...
      www.photoblog.com/mischief

      Chapter one:mischief at large. two:Round two. three: Guilding the garden. four:2013.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by matto View Post
        I have a study paper that shows that dairy goats that have been fed mulberry leaves will increase their production.


        .
        I have read (somewhere) that fenugreek seeds(?) will also help increase milk production
        I agree that The complete herbal for farm and stable', by Juliette de Bairacli Levy is an excellent buy for anyone with a few animals http://forums.permaculture.org.au/sh...+Bairacli+Levy
        "You can fix all the world's problems in a garden. .Most people don't know that" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sohI6vnWZmk
        Music can solve all the world's problems. Not many people know that- MA 2005
        "Politicians will never solve 'The Problem' because they don't realise that they are the problem" R Parsons 2001

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        • #5
          Grass-fed is the way to go. Mischief put it pretty well really. But some more food for thought: an over-reliance on grain is the reason why conventional grain-fed dairies (such as are commonly found in most of the US) use so much antibiotics and burn through their cows in only a couple years. Their stomachs just aren't built for grain. Grass-fed dairies can keep their milking cows around for many many more years.

          Now, goats are a bit different it's true, but they aren't really built to handle a lot of grain either. Give em lots of brush, weeds, and overgrown areas and they'll be in heaven.

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          • #6
            I reckon they probably do eat a bit of grain naturally, but more of the green stuff hanging from trees rather than dried corn or such.
            Wouldn't goats get grains but only seasonally in the wild?

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            • #7
              Grazing grass may not be the best for goats because they're vulnerable to parasites. Browsing may be better for them and what they're adapted to more than grass. Same with primitive sheep breeds like Jacob. My Jacob sheep prefer to browse. Existing trees could be coppiced to provide browse, or browse trees and shrubs could be planted for either the goats to harvest themselves or cut and brought to the animals in a paddock. A large variety of tree species would provide better nutrition than just one or two kinds.
              My permaculture projects: http://www.permies.com/t/11215/perma...lture-projects

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              • #8
                I incompletely quoted Juliette de B....she hasnt included pigs also for the reasons that they do not respond to herbal remedies very well when they are forced to live in unnatural conditions.

                As Ludi says having a wide variety of trees and shrubs provides better nutrition and this book as well as others can give you a good idea of what things to add to your pastures or farm races (access tracks).
                It's only a mistake if you don't learn from it...
                www.photoblog.com/mischief

                Chapter one:mischief at large. two:Round two. three: Guilding the garden. four:2013.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mischief View Post
                  I incompletely quoted Juliette de B....she hasnt included pigs also for the reasons that they do not respond to herbal remedies very well when they are forced to live in unnatural conditions.

                  As Ludi says having a wide variety of trees and shrubs provides better nutrition and this book as well as others can give you a good idea of what things to add to your pastures or farm races (access tracks).
                  Hmm, I have been planning a swale, paddock (cut in half to facilitate moving through better), swale, paddock, swale, paddock swale system on a portion of my property to allow milking goats to graze and play with their kids. Having the trees and shrubs along the outside should help with food, but what about the inside? I would think anything inside the paddock would be decimated in a day or less.
                  If you still have a job, get everything in order, and quit. Do it as soon as you can, because we’ve never had a more important work to do. -Kyle Chamberlin

                  Permaculture is a concise design of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have diversity, stability, & resilience of natural ecosystems.
                  -Bill Mollison

                  It's just my 2 cents,
                  Paka no hida

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                  • #10
                    If the browsing area is eaten that fast, the goats will need to be moved to another paddock, or the paddocks will need to be larger.
                    My permaculture projects: http://www.permies.com/t/11215/perma...lture-projects

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                    • #11
                      If you planted up the swales densely with fodder plants and then fenced it so that the goats could just reach them to eat... like hedgerows - would that work?

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                      • #12
                        Dont forget to add rocks for them to either walk over or jump all over, it helps keep their hooves in good shape.
                        Maybe these could be added to the swales.
                        It's only a mistake if you don't learn from it...
                        www.photoblog.com/mischief

                        Chapter one:mischief at large. two:Round two. three: Guilding the garden. four:2013.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by eco4560 View Post
                          If you planted up the swales densely with fodder plants and then fenced it so that the goats could just reach them to eat... like hedgerows - would that work?
                          That is exactly what I was thinking.
                          If you still have a job, get everything in order, and quit. Do it as soon as you can, because we’ve never had a more important work to do. -Kyle Chamberlin

                          Permaculture is a concise design of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have diversity, stability, & resilience of natural ecosystems.
                          -Bill Mollison

                          It's just my 2 cents,
                          Paka no hida

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Having kept goats for years in the Southeast (USA), I've found that given enough wild land to browse and graze in, they will balance their own diet pretty well, at least enough to reproduce and raise offspring. This wild forage does include some concentrated foods. Once I remember them disappearing day after day, only to find them diligently eating acorns off the ground from under a certain tree. Turned their droppings an odd color is all I recall from the incident. But surplus milk production, over and above what kids need to grow, benefits from some supplements, unless perhaps they have an unusually rich ecosystem to browse in. Part of the purpose of these supplements is to attract them into the milking area at a given time and keep them occupied on the milking stand. Traditionally this is often grain but I've found it can be whatever happens to be lying around in surplus: excess sweet potatoes, winter squash or pumpkins cut into chunks, apples, celery; the peels of onion, garlic, and even citrus (the gut of a goat seems to be the one thing in nature that can quickly break down citrus peel...even compost has problems with it!)....and my default....movie-theater dumpster popcorn (also my poultry's favorite)!!

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                            • #15
                              I agree with "adiantum's" post. Grain or concentrate feed can be useful for getting them to go where you need them to go. We have been keeping goats for 20 years and I always have something at hand, e.g. organic oats or organic feed pellets "to keep them sweet", say a cupful per head and to lead them to temporary pasture areas and back.
                              They do not need it. Commercial enterprises would feed quite significant amounts of grains or concentrates simply to increase milk yield and be (more) profitable. Our own approach is "they give what they give". Ours mostly graze, but we have planted a lot of trees for shelter and other uses that double up as fodder trees and we cut a lot for them from late summer onwards (after bird nesting season is finished) to supplement their diet. What they leave behind is used for firewood, stakes, kindling and mulch (shredded).

                              Incidentally, a friend of mine in Germany who is the Head of a State Institute for Organic Farming has done some really interesting work on goat farming.
                              The institute has a herd of 80 dairy goats. Their aim is to provide optimum nutrition and animal welfare, work organically, be profitable and reduce concentrate feeding.

                              If you look at
                              http://www.vti.bund.de/no_cache/en/s...ng/Bild/5.html
                              you can see a system they've been trialling: fodder hedges that are browsed once every three years. The remaining wood is coppiced and used for heating, then the hedge regrows and is fenced off until the next rotation. Importantly, these hedges were planted specifically for the goats. Old hedges (some hundreds of years old) which are of major conservation importance, an integral part of the cultural landscape in that region, and host high biodiversity are not browsed.
                              They are also doing research on the anthelmintic properties of willows.

                              He wrote an interesting paper a few years ago on the nutrient value of trees and shrubs for ruminants. It's in German with an English abstract (which I can't copy out of the pdf).
                              see:
                              Rahmann, Gerold (2004)
                              Gehölzfutter - eine neue Quelle für die ökologische Tierernährung.
                              Landbauforschung Völkenrode - Sonderheft, Band 272, Seiten 29-42, deutsch
                              ISBN10: 3-933140-96-X
                              http://literatur.vti.bund.de/digbib_...v/zi035489.pdf

                              Last Spring he gave a paper in Malaysia:
                              Georg, Heiko; Sporkmann, Katrin; Bender, Sophia; Ude, Gracia; Rahmann, Gerold (2012)
                              "Feed less Food" - Effect of a low concentrate diet on milk quality, milk fatty acid composition and performance of dairy goats.
                              In: Proceedings of the 1st Asia Dairy Goat Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 9-12 April 2012.
                              I can't find it online (yet). But when I last spoke to him he said, if I remember correctly, that they have managed to roughly half the amount of concentrates customarily fed to dairy goats in commercial settings in Germany without compromising on milk yield.

                              Ute

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