Goats are gentle animals that make great companions and can offer you delicious, nutritious, and healthy foods to consume. However, if you want them to live a long and happy life, you need to know what to feed goats and how to build a sturdy goat fence to prevent them from jumping over it and running in a quest for liberty.
So, if you want to learn more about these wonderful creatures and find out how to responsibly look after them and their health, here is everything you need to know about it.
General characteristics and history
Goats have been domesticated since ancient times, with the earliest remains of domesticated animals dating back over 10,000 years ago. They were primarily kept for their milk and meat, but their bones were also used to make tools, while their skin was used for manufacturing clothes and shoes.
These beautiful animals come in various sizes, weighs, and colors, depending on their breed and country of origin. They are also one of the first animals to be referred to in the New Testament in the Bible, marked as safe for consumption.
Depending on the breed, goats usually weigh between 45 and 300 pounds. Bucks from the Boer breed are usually bigger and heavier and often weigh over 250 pounds.
These animals are ruminants, meaning they have a four-chambered stomach. They are known to be very curious and will try eating almost everything, including cardboard, paper, and even clothing or wood. This doesn’t mean they will actually eat these materials, but they will most definitely be attracted to everything that is new.
The date when most goats reach puberty also depends on the breed and the size of each individual, ranging from 3 to 15 months of age. However, many breeders prefer postponing premature breeding until the doe reaches almost her full adult weight to be able to better support pregnancy.
Gestation usually lasts around 150 days and twins are the most common result. Occasionally, the goat can give birth up to six kids at once, even without artificial insemination. Right before giving birth, the doe may display a worried look or become overly affectionate to her owner.
What do goats actually eat?
After reaching adulthood and giving up maternal milk, goats can eat a wide array of flowers, leaves, and hay types. As we previously mentioned, they are quite curious and will try almost everything once.
Because they are scattered all over the globe, their diet mainly depends on the local climate and what it provides. Therefore, you might see goats chewing on bananas, both fruit and peels, as well as broccoli, apples, bamboos, beans, beets, blackberry bushes, garlic, ficus, celery, and even grapes, ginger root, tomatoes or wild rose.
Each of these plants, fruits or veggies provides different necessary nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, which are mandatory for the healthy growth and development of the animal.
And, since they are not picky at all when it comes to food, they are easy to look after too. Other foods they can safely enjoy include watermelons, sweet gum trees, sweet potato leaves, poison ivy, pumpkins, sunflower, raspberries, pomegranates, pears, mustard, mulberry, and even oak tree leaves.
If you want your animals to receive a powerful and healthy source of proteins, alfalfa hay is the best choice. This should be fed once-twice a day as a supplement, alongside other nutritious ingredients.
Sweet feed should only be served in moderation as to not exceed the necessary number of calories your goat require per day. If you buy them from chain stores, most of these foods don’t even have a nutritional value, so they’re just empty calories with a delicious taste. And, even though goats may be very keen on eating them, you should limit these to a couple of snacks per week.
You can also serve them certain human foods, including graham crackers, dried fruits, corn chips, and even cheerios or Cheetos. However, it would be best to stay away from processed foods or only use them as snacks or treats once in a while. Again, they will mainly count for empty calories with no nutritional values.
Grains represent another source of nutrients vital for goats. You can feed your pet whole grains, rolled, pelleted or texturized, depending on its preferences. As a general rule, you should feed about one cup of grains per adult goat per day, while kids should have half a cup. Keep in mind that grains are a powerful source of carbs too and feeding your animals too much can lead to overweight and bloating.
For a complete list of edible and safe foods for goats, you can check various online sources or ask your vet.
What goats can’t eat
Although they have a wide variety of delicious foods to choose from, these cute animals also have a list of ingredients they should avoid. Thus, if you live near any of these plants or grow them in your backyard, make sure goats cannot reach them.
The list includes but is not limited to avocado, Chinaberry trees, false tansy, cassava, azalea, Japanese yew, dumb cane, dog hobble, Maya-Maya, lily of the valley, rhubarb leaves, oleander, and yellow jasmine. Also, Japanese Pieris are extremely toxic and they shouldn’t be fed under any circumstances.
How to feed your goat and kids
If you want to make sure your goats stay healthy and receive all necessary vitamins and nutrients from their food, you need to establish a strict feeding schedule with the right amounts of food.
For instance, hay should be served up to four pounds per goat daily, while the Chaffhaye ratio should be of one pound per 50 pounds of your goat’s body weight. You can also trust your goats to freely eat hay as they will stick to what they need.
On the other hand, you should be more careful with the grains. Feeding a high amount of grains is not only dangerous to goats but can actually kill them. Thus, you shouldn’t exceed one and a half pounds of grain daily for adult goats. As we already mentioned, kids shouldn’t eat more than half a cup of grains a day.