Much has been written and read about a common practice of feeding corn (whole or cracked) and other garden refuse. Some people tell me it is okay to feed corn. Others say it is not. Can I safely feed corn of any kind to my goats? What other types of garden refuse can they eat and not eat?
Corn is basically safe for goats in small amounts. While corn is a relatively low protein item, corn does contain a certain amount of calcium which in excess, can contribute to the onset of Urinary Calculi in bucks. It should also be noted that corn generates heat which in my opinion can be used to advantage during the cold winter months. Consumption of corn during the winter will help to raise body temperature, again, to be fed in small amounts. Corn fed during the summer will also raise body temperature, not necessarily a good thing when it is hot. While there is a tendency to feed corn because it is less expensive than other grains and balanced nutrition rations, it is not necessarily the best choice all around. In particular, whole corn is very tough on teeth. Older goats will have difficulty grinding whole corn. If you feed any corn at all, try cracked corn or crimped corn. The only evidence that I can offer that "some" corn is okay is the fact that many top dollar goat chow rations contain amounts of cracked corn.
I have been giving my goats 'imperfect' sweet corn - nothing rotted but the neigbors have been bringing me the stuff that maybe worms had gotten to or other stuff like that. I have been putting small amounts out with the husks still on. The goats have also been getting over-ripe cucumbers and tomatoes. They and the chickens love it (and the cukes give them wonderfully sweet breath) SO FAR I have not had any problems BUT is there anything I should watch out for in doing this? Baking soda and loose minerals are out all the time.
I too have given that to my goats. They've gotten tomato's, cucumbers, peppers, and corn. So far they've never had a problem and my dad does the same with his.
Mine love watermelon! So do the chickens who pick off what the goats do not eat. The chickens will go straight down to the rind until it is paper thin. I have given our goats corn in the husk too but they don't like to bother to much with it. I guess because it takes them too long to get it off the cob. We give them cracked corn once in a while, as a treat.
My goats seem to like corn better than sweet feed. I was thinking of switching to that. They only get about a cup each in the mornings. That should be alright, shouldn't it?
When I've had does go off feed for some reason (actually I think they get tired of the same ol' same ol' after a while) I'll get them started eating again by feeding them chicken scratch (cracked corn and wheat). They tear into that like they're starved to death! Then I start adding the usual feed and cutting back on the scratch feed until they're right back where they started! It's never hurt any of them at all.
There's an old guy here who started raising goats after he retired. Last year he had about 60 babies born and out of that more than 40 died. We would drive down the road and there would be dead babies laying all over the place. Come back through an hour later and a large brush pile would be lit and all the bodies were gone. If more than one of my babies die I'm beating a path to the diagnostic lab! I happened to see the man one day in town and he asked me how my babies were doing. I said fine...told him about my new management techniques. He started telling me how many of his had died. I asked what he thought was wrong (thought maybe a little hint would help, ya know?!) and he said "I think they were getting too much protein so I started feeding them just corn". That was last year. This year, same thing. Dead babies all over the place. This year he got a pyr....has him tied in the middle of the pasture to "train" him before he lets him go with the goats. Hey, some people you can't tell anything!