How Much to Feed Pregnant and Lactating Goats - dummies

How Much to Feed Pregnant and Lactating Goats

By Cheryl K. Smith

If you’re raising goats as part of a green lifestyle, you need an overall feeding program to keep your goats at maximal performance, but at times you need to make exceptions for certain goats or categories of goats. Pregnant goats, milking does, kids, and senior goats need special attention and modified diets.

Pregnant does

Pregnant does don’t have increased nutritional needs until the last two months of gestation, when the kids do 70 percent of their growing. They also need additional water throughout pregnancy. A feeding program for pregnant goats includes:

  • Early pregnancy (first 3 months): Feed does to maintain their body condition or to improve their body condition if they are thin. You can meet their nutritional requirements with good hay or pasture, or some added grain for thin does. Unless they’re lactating, does don’t need grain in early pregnancy. Do not overfeed. Overfeeding can lead to complications such as hypocalcemia and ketosis.

  • Throughout pregnancy: Monitor and compensate for pregnant does’ increased water consumption. Pregnant goats can drink up to four gallons a day. Monitor body condition and adjust feed and water accordingly.

  • Late pregnancy (last two months): Does’ nutritional requirements increase greatly during this time because the unborn kids are growing rapidly. Start grain gradually (just a handful a day) until your does are eating up to a half-pound of grain a day (depending on the goat size and breed) or half to two-thirds of their normal milking ration by the time they kid, in addition to hay. Gradually replace their hay with alfalfa so they get the proper balance of calcium and phosphorus. Continue to monitor their body condition and adjust feed accordingly; does carrying multiple kids need even more calories and nutrients.

Make sure not to overfeed grain during pregnancy to avoid the risk of having the kids grow so large that the doe has birthing difficulties.

Milking does

Milking does, or does that are nursing their kids, have higher nutritional needs than other goats. You will have started your pregnant goats on grain and gotten them used to eating a substantial amount of grain during the last two months of pregnancy. Continue this feeding, even increasing it to several pounds a day, according to the doe’s body condition and the number of kids she is feeding or the amount of milk she is producing. Also, make sure that she is drinking plenty of fresh, clean water.