Hardy Boer Meat Goats
Feeding Boer Goats and Meat Goats
The most economical way to feed Boer goats and other meat goats is to provide plenty of high quality pasture, feeding purchased feed only during winter and droughts when pastures are short. Pastures should have legumes which convert atmospheric nitrogen into protein providing a high level of nutrition for goats and improving the fertility of the soil at the same time. Goats need a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2 to1 in their total diets. Because goats are natural browsers they can not tolerate calcium to phosphorus ratios that are higher than this like cattle and sheep can. Legumes have very high calcium to phosphorus ratios (about 5 to 1). Goats will not eat legumes (especially white clover) unless they are fed a high phosphorus (1 to 1) mineral free choice. Cattle feeds and cattle minerals work great for goats. Do not feed goats anything that has the word goat or the word horse on the bag because it will be very expensive. See our page on pastures for more details on our pasture management program.
One can obtain a basic knowledge of goat nutrition from Dr. Steve Hart's "Introduction to Goat Nutrition" available on the Langston University web site at http://www2.luresext.edu/goats/training/nutrition.html. This article together with the goat nutritional requirement data available on the Langston web site can be used to formulate healthy rations for your goats.
In addition to knowing the nutritional requirements of one's goats, one also needs to know the nutrients available in the feed one is using. For purchased feed this information is usually available on the feed bag or the tag attached to the bag. For home-grown feed, for hay, and for pasture forages average values can be found in "Feed Composition Tables" published by the University of Missouri at http://beefmagazine.com/images/2009%20feed%20table.pdf. One can also get hay and feeds tested for composition. Check with your Agricultural Extension Service for the availability of these tests.
When feeding a herd of meat goats it can be difficult to control how much feed each goat is getting. We have found that the best way to do this is to feed enough feed per feeding so each goat gets to eat its fill. This is usually about two pounds per goat per feeding. If you feed less than this amount the more aggressive goats will get all the feed and the more timid goats won't get any. If you want to feed one pound per goat per day, just feed two pounds per goat every other day. To avoid digestive problems from the goat eating to much concentrate at one time make sure the feed has at least 18% fiber.
When feeding goats it is
very important to
protect the feed from contamination with goat manure to avoid internal
parasites. This can be done by making sure feeders are about twenty
four inches off the ground, and a bar about 14 inches off the ground is
provided for smaller goats to prop their front feet on while eating.
Such feeders are called flex feeders because they force younger goats
to flex their loin, rump, and leg muscles while eating. This is
important for show goats. See the feeders used at Critter Ridge,
pictured below (the dog feeders hanging on the wall are actually
nesting boxes for our chickens.)
Feeders can be very
expensive to buy. They are
a lot cheaper to build (at least they were before the price of steel
went sky high.) Inexpensive feeders can be built from six inch diameter
PVC pipe cut in two (see picture below.) Ken does not weld but our
grand children do. One can also hire high school FFA members to make
feeders in their welding classes.
Twenty gallon garbage cans make good water tanks for goats (see picture above.) A block or rock along side will allow smaller goats to reach the water. Five gallons buckets with water are placed inside the creep feeders for small kids. We always put two or more gold fish in each water tank. They eat the mosquito larva and also help control algae. Inexpensive creep feeders can be made from cattle pannels (pictured below.)
Goats need lots of exercise to stay healthy and avoid kidding problems. If one does all of the feeding and watering at the barn in winter, the goats will get lazy. We feed at the far end of the pasture when the weather is good. Using portable feeders and moving them often helps prevent damage to pasture plants. Feeding the goats at the far end of the pasture also reduces the amount of manure that needs to be cleaned out of the barn in spring.
Come Visit Us and See Our Herd
We are located
in north central Arkansas, twenty miles south of Missouri.
is four miles south of Yellville, Arkansas, on Highway 14.