Goats: You Are What You Eat

Reader Contribution by Janice Spaulding
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Protein is as important to goats as it is to humans! Protein contributes to the long, lustrous, silky mohair that Angora goats grow in abundance. Hair is protein, and without proper amounts of it, these goats would have thin, lack-luster, fleeces which would appeal only to rug makers. If you want consistent, glowing locks that spinners will fight over, your boys and girls need adequate protein, either in their grain or as a supplement.  Having raised Angora goats for 20 plus years, I do realize that extra protein in the diet makes hoofs grow longer and faster, but, it is well worth the little bit of extra work to be able to harvest heavy, and beautiful fleeces.

Meat goats need protein to grow and maintain good muscle structure. Muscle is meat after all, so if the end product in your endeavor is meat, you must make sure that your goats have strong, healthy frames, with plenty of good muscling.

Last but not least, dairy goats need protein and lots of it to maintain good healthy milk supplies! We receive countless emails and phone calls about skinny, dairy goats with dull coats, and less than terrific milk supplies. Our first response to these questions is what and how much are you feeding? Dairy goats need at least one pound of grain per day for maintenance and one pound for every three to four pounds of milk they produce! A gallon of milk weighs in at 8.6 pounds by the way.  So, a goat giving a gallon a day should be eating at least 3 to 3 ½ pounds of grain per day, this does not count free choice hay and an endless supply of good, clean water.

Speaking of hay, do you have any idea how much protein is being supplied from your particular hay? Why not have it tested to see? Check with your local extension to see if either they will do it, or if they can steer you towards someone who can. Here in Maine, we can have hay tested at no charge.

Are you mixing your own grain or are you feeding a generic grain that can be fed to any animal? Are your goats receiving supplemental minerals and vitamins that the grain might be lacking? These are all legitimate questions that you should be asking yourself!

Most important to a goats diet are copper, selenium, and vitamin E. Are your goats getting the daily required amounts of these nutrients?

Back to the phrase “you are what you eat”; how many times have I heard “my goat’s milk tastes funny”? What a goat eats has a direct correlation as to how the milk tastes! If your goat is allowed to browse and gets into wild garlic or wild onion, guess what? That’s how your milk will taste!  Of course you can always make garlic and onion flavored cheese! Wild raspberry and blackberry bushes will give your milk and cheeses a fruity taste which some cheese makers find appealing. However, all that being said, skunk cabbage will ruin your milk for days so take a good look around before letting your goats out into a new area to browse!

Want to learn more about raising goats? We have several Goat Schools coming up!

For those of you in the mid-west, come join us in beautiful Littlefork, Minnesota near the shores of Rainy Lake on Saturday June 22nd, Sunday June 23rd, and Monday June 24th ! Along with three fantastic days learning about goats, meeting like-minded folks, and building networking opportunities, there are also plans a foot to visit the lake and a local restaurant on Saturday evening! Click here for more information on Minnesota Goat School.

Our Goat School® in Maine also has spaces available for the weekend of Saturday June 8th, Sunday June 9th, and Monday June 10th. No better time to visit Maine than in June when the weather is picture perfect! Click here for more info about Maine Goat School.

Saturday September 21st, Sunday September 22nd, and Monday September 23rd will find us in Ohio!  Over the years, we have had so much interest in and around Ohio, now is your chance! There is still room, so send your registration in today!  Click here for more information about Ohio Goat School.

We also have several books available, including our very popular “Goat School Manual”. Visit our Goat School Shop at www.goatschool.com.