The Best Feed for Dairy Goats – What to Look For
When it comes to feeding dairy goats, getting their nutrition right can often feel like something of a minefield. However, if you ask us, this shouldn’t have to be the case. After all, while feeding your dairy goat can seem challenging at the outset, there are actually plenty of options you could consider in this regard.
With this thought in mind, we have outlined some of the most important things you should know when choosing the best dairy goat feed for your needs. However, we’d strongly recommend talking to your vet or a professional nutritionist to help inform your final decision.
What is the Best Dairy Goat Feed?
There are numerous dairy goat feeds available, and choosing the best dairy goat feed can be tricky as a result. However, the best dairy goat feed should always be:
- Fresh and nutritious, made from high-quality ingredients rather than poor waste ingredients
- High in fiber to prevent acidosis from occurring in your dairy goats
- Complete with minerals and vitamins, as required by your goat, based on the current availability in their diet
Generally speaking, if you are feeding a high-performing dairy goat, the best dairy goat feed will be a compound feed. Compound feeds are blended from numerous different ingredients into a single pellet, which helps ensure consistent mineral intakes for each meal. In turn, this reduces the risk of your dairy goat’s diet fluctuating.
However, if you have a lower-performing dairy goat, you could consider feeding straight grains and pulses, such as peas. However, these have highly variable nutritional profiles and so may not be as suitable for your dairy goat.
Why is it Important to Provide your Goat with Quality Feed?
A high-quality feed with healthy, fresh ingredients is important when feeding your dairy goat. In many cases, we overlook the importance of this when choosing a feed. However, feeding grains or compound feeds that are less nutritious can significantly harm your goat’s health.
Mycotoxins in the feed are one of the most common worries here. Unfortunately, these are not always visible, so you may have to judge the feed as best as you can. As such, if your dairy goat’s feed ever smells fausty, moldy, or generally “off,” don’t take the risk of feeding it. You’ll lose a lot more if you feed your dairy goat spoiled feed than if you simply replaced the feed with something of a higher quality.
What to Look For When Choosing a Goat Feed Mix?
When choosing a goat feed mix, it’s important to do your research. Indeed, just because the bag says “for goats” on the packaging doesn’t mean it’s necessarily suitable for your goats. As such, as a goat owner, it’s up to you to become something of a goat nutritionist too. But, if you’re not sure where to start, contacting your vet or nutritionist may be a good option. You should also keep an eye on your goat’s condition when working out a ration and adjust her feed accordingly.
When choosing a goat feed mix, many people only look at the ingredients list. However, we strongly recommend that you consider some of the other factors on the product’s packaging, too.
The energy and protein requirements and both highly important for dairy goats since they have to put a lot of energy into making milk. Energy for livestock feed is usually measured in ME. As such, ideally, you’ll want to look for a feed with an ME of around 11 MJ/kg or higher. Most dairy goat breeders will also feed products with a protein level of around 18% to keep their goat’s production sustainable and safe.
How to Ensure Your Goats are Getting The Right Minerals From Their Feed
Minerals are one of the most often overlooked aspects of feeding your dairy goats. However, this is something you can’t afford to let slide since mineral levels are vitally important for your goat’s health. Therefore, checking the minerals your dairy goat feed contains is crucial.
It’s also worth considering how certain minerals interact. For example, an incorrect ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the diet can increase the risks of urinary calculi among male dairy goats (and other breeds). As such, ensuring your chosen feed is suitable is vital.
Luckily, there are several ways you can go about this. First, you could consider getting your grass or forage analyzed for mineral content; this will allow you to understand what is lacking from your grazing. Alternatively, you could directly blood test your goats for mineral levels; this helps you see your goat’s exact mineral profile, so you can choose a suitable strategy for feeding them.
Common Mistakes with Feeding Dairy Goats
Some of the most common mistakes that many people face when feeding their dairy goats include the following:
- Feeding too much can result in the goat gaining too much condition and becoming obese
- Not feeding enough, can leave your goat losing condition at a very rapid rate
- Feeding a flat rate of feed year-round, when in reality, your goat’s needs change with time
- Not considering minerals and vitamins as part of your goats’ feeding rations
- Feeding spoiled or low-quality feed to your goats (often without realizing that it’s gone bad)
- Allowing your goats to eat too much hard feed or grain in a single meal can result in their stomach acid pH changing sharply, causing acidosis (which is a potentially fatal condition in many cases)
If you’ve been looking for the best dairy goat feed, no single answer is necessarily right. For example, this may depend on factors such as your budget, the availability of nutrients in your forage, and the like. However, no matter which type of dairy goat feed you use, you must always do your best to ensure it’s fresh, high quality, and nutritious. After all, while there’s often a belief that “goats can eat anything,” spoiled grains can significantly increase your goat’s risk of suffering from mycotoxin poisoning. And trust me – you don’t want your goats to go through that.