Goats need a balanced diet to remain active and stay healthy. The nutrient requirements essential for growth, production, and reproduction are energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water.
The major source of energy for a ruminant is provided by pasture, browse, hay, and grain. An adequate amount of energy must be provided or it will result in decreased production, reproductive failure, increased mortality, and the goat will be more susceptible to diseases and parasites.
Hay is a pasture plant that has been cut, dried, and bundled into bales. It should be stored under cover and off the ground. Goats do not like hay with coarse stems and should never be fed moldy hay. A good all purpose hay is Grass Alfalfa. A goat should eat 3 percent of its body weight in hay each day. Since goats will not eat more hay than they need, you can offer it available at all times. You will need to remove the leftover hay daily since goats will eat the tender parts and leave the rest.
Grain is a highly palatable mix of sweet feed. Unopened grain should be stored under cover and off the ground. Opened grain should be stored in a metal or plastic garbage can with a tight fitting lid. Never feed moldy hay to your goats.
Wethers, bucks and does that are not pregnant do not require grain. If you choose to add grain to your goat's diet, a maintenance ration of dry COB (corn, oats, and barley) can be fed at 1/4 to 1/2 pound per day.
Pregnant goats can have a pound of grain per day. During the last 2 weeks of pregnancy, gradually increase the grain up to 3 pounds a day by the time she gives birth.
Lactating does are fed a 16% protein grain ration at a minimum of 1 pound per day plus an additional 1/2 pound for each pound of milk produced over 2 pounds. The amount of protein is more important that the quality of protein. An adequate amount of protein must be supplied if rapid growth and high production are to be obtained.
Goat kids get most of their nourishment from their mothers. They will begin nibbling on hay and grain as early as 1 week of age. Goats can be weaned from milk when they reach 10 - 12 weeks.
The dietary vitamin requirements of goats are simple because of the feeds they consume and the forming of vitamins in the rumen.
Goats consume trace minerals from good hay, forage, and concentrate. Trace mineral salt should be provided at all times. It is available in loose form or compressed into a block.
Goats must always have access to fresh, clean water. It must be filled up daily and can be offered in a pail, tub or trough. Provide cool water when it is warm outside and warm water when the temperatures begin to drop. The water should be dumped and cleaned once a week or when necessary.