Raising Goats For Dummies
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Goats need supplemental minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients in addition to those they get in their hay, grain, and browse. Vitamins and minerals are essential to keeping goats healthy, making sure they're growing well, and assisting in reproduction and the development of skin and bone.

You can supplement your goats' browse and feed them essential minerals and vitamins by supplying them with free-choice loose minerals or a mineral block, which you can find in most feed stores. Goats prefer minerals with salt; if you have to get a salt-free mineral, supplement it with a salt block.

Never buy a so-called "goat/sheep mineral" because it doesn't have enough copper for a goat's needs. The amount of copper that a goat needs can kill a sheep — which is very baaaad for the sheep, of course. If you can't find goat-specific minerals, you can use a cattle or horse mineral.

With good hay and an adequate mineral block, your goats get by just fine. But you can also give them some of these supplemental feeds to make them even healthier:
  • Beet pulp: Beet pulp adds fiber, protein, and energy to a goat's diet and contains calcium and phosphorus. It comes in 50-pound bags and is cheaper than grain, but doesn't supply as much energy and so shouldn't be used as a substitute.

  • Black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS): Black oil sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, zinc, iron, and selenium and also add fiber and fat to the diet. BOSS make the goats' coats shinier and increase the butterfat in their milk. Mix the seeds into your goats' grain; they eat them shell and all. Like a boss.

  • Kelp meal: Kelp meal is a good source of iodine, selenium, and other minerals. Used as a supplement, it helps protect goats from iodine deficiency. Kelp also improves dairy goats' production, increasing milk volume and butterfat and helping decrease mastitis.

  • Baking soda: Many goat owners offer their goats free-choice baking soda, which aids digestion by keeping the rumen pH-balanced. If one of your goats has a digestive problem, offer baking soda. Baking soda is also one of the treatments for floppy kid syndrome.

  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV): Some goat owners add unfiltered apple cider vinegar, which is full of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins, to their goats' water.

  • Treats and snacks: Just because goats love grain doesn't mean it's good for them to have all the time. You can find plenty of other nutritious snacks for goats:

    • Corn chips are a good grain substitute for wethers because the saltiness encourages them to drink water, which helps prevent urinary calculi.

    • Goats love apples, watermelon, peaches, pears, grapes, bananas (peel and all, if organic), and dried fruit. Just make sure that the fruits aren't in pieces large enough to cause choking.

    • Vegetables are a nutritious addition to any diet. Goats love carrots with their tops attached, celery, pumpkins, squash, lettuce, spinach, and other greens.

Avoid members of the nightshade family, such as potatoes and tomatoes, which contain alkaloids, as well as plants with oxalates, such as kale. These can be poisonous to goats.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Cheryl K. Smith has raised a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf and Oberian dairy goats under the herd name Mystic Acres since 1998. She is the owner of karmadillo Press and is the author of Goat Health Care, Goat Midwifery, The Best of Ruminations Goat Milk and Cheese Recipes, and Raising Goats: Some Essentials.

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