Feeding Habits of Goats

Goats have fastidious eating habits. They will accept a wide variety of feed, appreciate it and thrive on it, but what is acceptable to one goat is not always acceptable to others. In general goat will refuse any kind of feed which has been soiled either by himself or by other animals.

Goats consumes wide varieties of feeds and vegetation than either sheep or cattle.

It has been shown that goats can distinguish between bitter, sweet; salty and sour tastes and those goats have higher tolerance for bitter tastes than cattle

Goats will consumes certain species at definite stages of maturity and reject them at other times.

The rumen is not developed at birth, but young kids start picking at hay or grass at 2-3 weeks of age and by 3-4 months the rumen is fully functional.

Unlike sheep, goats relish eating aromatic herbs in areas of sparse food supply, and hence can penetrate deep into the desert.

Browse (means eating of leaves of bush and trees) forms an important part of the diet of goats. It has been observed that when goats find opportunities to browse for about 8-9 hours a day the goats can take care of their maintenance and slow rate of growth.

The practical rationing of goats should be based on cheap foods such as browse pasture, and agricultural and industrial waste. In rationing goats, it must be firmly borne in mind that they cannot compete with pigs and poultry in efficiency of conversion of concentrates to protein food , nor under most circumstances, can they compete with advanced dairy cattle in utilization of concentrates for milk production.

Despite goats’ similarity to other livestock in general digestive efficiency, there is considerable evidence that it is exceptionally efficient at digesting crude fiber. Jang and Majumdar compared the digestive efficiency of goats, sheep buffaloes and cattle fed on spear grass in its post flowering stage and groundnut cake. Crude fiber is exceptionally well digested by goats.

There is evidence that the basal metabolic rate and thyroxin production of goats are higher than in sheep and cattle, which may be why goats appear to require a some what greater maintenance ration than is usually recommended for sheep and cattle.

Goats are fond of leguminous fodders. They do not relish fodders like sorghum and maize silage or straw. They reluctantly eat hay prepared from forest grasses, if cut in early stages, but very much relish hay prepared from leguminous crops.

The nutrients conversion efficiency for milk production of a dairy cow is on an average 38%, whereas for goat it ranges between 45% to 71%.

Goat has also an outstanding mineral requirement. A small body with a high metabolic rate; a digestive system occupying at least a third of its body, and producing milk richer in minerals than the cows.

Composition of Mineral Mixture Added at a 2%

a. Sterilized bone meal 35 Parts
b. Finely ground high grade limestone           45 Parts
c. Iodized salt                                                       20 Parts
d. Copper sulphate                                             22 gms/ton mineral mixture
e. Zinc Oxide                                                       11 gms/ton ”
f. Ferrous Carbonate                                           11 gms/ton ”

The energy requirements for maintenance in goats are similar to those of sheep, being 725.8 g starch equivalent (SE) per day per 100 kg live weight. For live weight gain the energy requirement would be 3.0 gm SE per kg live weight gain.