Keeping Feed Cost Down For Goats
(Feeding goats cheaply)
This program works well for open breeding age does and mature bucks. As with any feeding program gradually change their diet.
Gardern Produce- Sunflower seeds( the seeds are high in protein and the goats will eat the entire plant), mangel beets, Jerusalem artichokes, pumpkins, comfrey, carrots, kale, turnips, corn husk and corn stalks- all high protein easy to grow and the goats love them. If the farm plants corn next to our farm, we gather all the corn husks and stalks after they pick the field, and put them in our feeders. Sometimes we luck out and find some free corn as well. It's fun to watch the goats trying to get the corn off the husk. Of course we limit the amount of corn they eat and gradually add it in their diet.
Weeds and browse- Lambs quarters, ragweed, redroot, pigweed, velvetleaf and barnyard grass were found to be digestible as alfalfa and more so than oat forage. All five weeds are more crude protein than oats and four had as much as alfalfa. Make sure weeds are not close to road (due to spraying). Caution some weeds such as lambs quarters and pigweed can be toxic when they are very young or when they grow rapidly after a setback such as drought. Some plants are hazardous after being killed by frost. Your county agent can give you more specific information on other plants and conditions prevalent in your area. Tree trimmings fall into the category of weeds. Tree leaves and bark are rich sources of minerals. Avoid pine boughs and wilted cherry (the leaves are poisonous). goats also love oak leaves and acorns. If you can fence in a woody area for your goats, not only will they be much healthier, they will get quite a bit of protein from browse. Goats will keep your property clean of briars, fallen leaves, unwanted saplings, and a variety of weeds. Our wether and buck pen is pretty small, to supplement their diet and add browse, I cut limbs off our willow trees for them. Not only do they love it but it's really easy to keep off the ground, I just hook to the fence.
Time your kidding- Cost will be considerably lower if your kidding schedule coincides with Spring browse. Not only will your baby goat kids be healthier, they will spend far less time in the creep feeder.
Produce your own hay- An average goat will consume 490 lbs. of hay in a 90 day winter feeding period. If you have the time and acerage you can dramatically reduce feed cost by planting and harvesting your own hay. An alfalfa-clover mix is very high in protein and very palitable for goats.
Water- The cheapest supplement. Remember to keep water tubs filled with fresh clean water, even in the winter months.