Amber Waves Pygmy Goats

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"Feeding Goats for Improved Milk and Meat Production (Part 6)"

Amber Waves Pygmy Goats
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Feeding Goats for Improved Milk and Meat Production (Part 6)

By: George F. W. Haenlein
Cooperative Extension Dairy Specialist University of Delaware
Website: http://ag.udel.edu

  • About the Author
  • A total mixed pelleted ration has been my TMR for years and it is commercially available as a horse "maintenance" ration, designed for horses, that are neither pregnant nor nursing nor working more than 1 day per week. Thus this ration is supposed to feed horses correctly without letting them get fat. The major composition was 12 percent protein and 26 percent fiber. The high fiber content prevented over-eating by my goats. This pelleted ration was provided to the goats in gravity-flow self-feeders and I have seen it being adopted by the Texas Goat Experiment Station at Prairie View, where turkey big round self-feeders are used for the goats. In addition to this pelleted ration I always provided mixed hay free choice and the goats usually ate less than under conventional feeding, but they preferred stems to get enough fiber. For very high milkers I would feed an extra quarter to half pound of straight soybean oilmeal or sunflower seed at milking time.

    Individual feeding is the alternative to group feeding and free choice offer of feeds. It is more labor intensive, may save some wasted feed and may better feed according to body condition. It has not been demonstrated whether feeding success in production or profit from the operation is better than in group feeding. Individual feeding requires individual stalls or temporary tie-ups or feeding at milking time or computerized feed dispenser stalls. In any case it also requires detailed calculations of fitting rations according to individual requirements and prevailing feed ingredient prices.

    Calculating a ration requires 7 steps (Haenlein, 1995):

    • 1. determine body weight to calculate maintenance requirements of energy, protein, fiber, calcium and phosphorus from tables;
    • 2. determine milk yield and fat content per day plus a challenge factor in early lactation of 10 percent for calculation of production requirements of energy, protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus from tables;
    • 3. add the two requirement categories for each of the 5 nutrients on a dry-matter basis;
    • 4. determine the composition of your eaten hay (minus the refusals) for the 5 nutrients from tables or actual lab analyses;
    • 5. determine the daily actual hay intake by your goat in question and multiply this with the nutrient composition on a dry-matter basis;
    • 6. subtract the results of step (5) from the total of step (3), giving you the nutrient deficit, which must be provided by a grain supplement on a dry matter basis;
    • 7. determine composition and price of various alternative commercial or farm-grown grain supplements and multiply with the most probable intake level to arrive at the nutrient deficit total, remembering that ration calculations and feeds offered can not exceed the normal level of daily dry matter intake by goats between 3 to 5 percent of body weight. If goats are found to eat less than 3 percent of body weight on a dry-matter basis, they are either starving or their feed is not palatable to them.

    Palatability
    In addition to including the volume capacity of a goat's rumen when calculating rations (expressed in the 3 to 5 percent/body weight intake range), one must also consider palatability of the ration and the goat's preference for variety and selection of feeds (Table 4). Actually voluntary intake is more important than correct nutrient composition. Unless feed intake is maximized, production improvement in the short and long run is not secured. In a study with weaned kids in India, the addition of green chop forage to the usual browse pasture improved daily gains from 19 to 42 g/day, but the additional supplementation with a grain ration resulted in daily gains of 108 g (Devendra, 1987).

    Feeding Strategies
    Feeding strategies under the confinement system can include green chop, agricultural and industrial by-products besides commercial grain rations. This will provide variety, increase intake, lower feed costs, stimulate milk production, but may increase labor costs. Lopping of tree leaves, crop residues from the canning industry like pea and bean vines, fruit pulp, fresh brewers grain, fresh distillers grain, cotton seed, rice, maize, sugarcane by-products, and straw treatment with ammonia or urea have been successfully used in many tropical countries for goat production improvement (Table 5 - 7).

    There are many feeding guides now available based on the NRC or similar official foreign tables of requirements and composition (NRC, 1981; Ensminger et al., 1990; Morand-Fehr, 1991; Haenlein, 1995; Peacock, 1996). In combination with regular body condition scoring of growing and milking goats, these tables should be adjusted up or down to provide the right supply of nutrients under the circumstances with enough challenge for improved production and growth, or with enough restriction to prevent overconditioning and health risks. If all this is well accomplished then it is time to negotiate the right price for milk, yogurt, cheese and meat from the goats, to proceed with aggressive marketing and promotion to reap the rewards for all this work and to assure that this farm will continue in business for years to come.

    Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9 - Part 10

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