Today we have an awesome article by a guest blogger. Laura Hepburn, Assistant Brand Manager for Manna Pro. She writes about goat nutrition which is super important going into the winter.
People keep goats for a variety of reasons - for milk, for meat, for show, or even for pets. Ensuring goats get the proper nutritional care is one of the most important things a goat owner can do to keep their goats happy and healthy. Below, we've outlined some of the key pieces of nutritional information to help you better understand what to look for when you're reviewing product labels in the store.
Quality Proteins: Having high-quality, natural protein sources will support healthy growth and muscle development, as well as optimal milk production. When reviewing milk replacers or feed products for your goats, look for protein sources derived from milk, soy (soy protein isolate, soybean meal), dried whey, or linseed meal. Protein sources listed as "urea" are not ideal.
Energy: Forage is the main source of day to day energy for goats. If, however your goats need some extra support (pregnant does, meat goats, show goats or younger, developing goats) you might opt to supplement your goats' forage with grains, fat and digestible fiber.
Minerals: The right mineral balance is one of the cornerstones of proper goat nutrition. Minerals not only support a healthy bone structure, but the proper mineral balance also prevents urinary calculi (a common health issue in goats). You'll want to provide the right ratio of Calcium and Phosphorus. These two minerals work together for optimal goat health, so you want to be sure you are providing the right balance of each. Whenever possible, make sure your mineral supplement has 2 parts Calcium to every 1 part Phosphorus. This enables each mineral to function at its best. Another key mineral is Salt, which encourages goats to drink enough water, flushing their systems regularly enough to prevent urinary calculi. Adding Ammonium Chloride to the mix will help prevent kidney stone formation in the first place. You'll also want to make sure your goats are getting Selenium and Vitamin E for strong, natural immunity.
Vitamins: Simply stated, your goats need vitamins A, D and E for proper health and nutrition. It's also worth mentioning that baby and young goat kids must have supplemental B vitamins. Adult goats natural produce vitamin B in their rumens, but young goats' systems aren't advanced enough. It goes without saying that if you have adult goats that go off feed for any reason (stress, illness, etc.) you should supplement with vitamin B to compensate for what they are no longer producing on their own.
Internal Parasites: Any grazing animal is at risk for internal parasites which can cause dehydration, illness and other major health concerns. During grazing seasons, always use a dewormer product. You'll need to rotate your wormers on a monthly basis to make sure they don't develop a resistance to the treatments.
One of the best things you can do for your goats is to watch them for any unusual behavior or symptoms, as well as carefully reading the labels of your products.