Monday, July 3, 2017

Goat Feed Charts

The first chart helped me evaluate goat performance on kidding and milking behavior. This next goat chart I designed is all about feed input and milk output. Grain in particular since we feed hay from large round bales and though I'd like to know how much hay we feed on average, we have no way to weigh wheel barrows of hay so we are concentrating on grain consumption.

In the past, I just fed grain equal to consumption while I was milking - hardly money saving. Goats who ate quickly received more grain than goats that savored their food. Not good for those who easily kept weight on and ate fast consuming lots of grain. Not good for the slow eaters that needed more grain to keep weight on but ate little. Belle does not keep weight on as easily and Comedy, though far larger in size, needs the same amount but is far fatter. So what is the solution? How much grain should I feed? First, I simply measured grain and watched to see how much the two does on average cleaned up in the amount of time it took for me to get them milked. It was one pound. So I fed one pound. BU...T when Belle was just enough slower that that last little bit of milking was done with restless leg syndrome in full force leaving me nervously guarding the milk pail. 
So I tried using a mixture of whole oats and whole wheat mixed in with the COB (rolled corn, oats, and barley). The volume is less because it is heavier but it solved the faster eating problem. I refuse to feed more grain since Belle is already producing two pounds of milk less than Comedy. 

Comedy was doing well with the COB but not increasing in milk production. She was milking eleven pounds before she arrived and the stress dropped her down to five and a half. Now she has dropped even further and quit eating hardly any grain at all. Her milk is dropping fast.That means I need fast action so I hit the internet as I'm wondering if she is getting enough grain. How much grain should a doe get on average for each pound of milk production?
 This website gave me an idea. If I get there formula correctly then Comedy when milking eleven pounds of milk per milking would need the maximum amount of grain recommended which is four pounds. Wow!! that is a lot of grain and money. Do I really want milk from that much grain? Of course milk from grass is far more healthier for you. I also wondered how much grain has to do with production? Of course you are what you eat whether you are an animal or human.
I looked for another site and this is what I found.
The site did not answer my question except to tell me that I should be feeding a very uncomfortable amount of grain.The first site even said up to half the feed input. No way am I doing that. Can't afford it and can't believe it is healthy for them.  BUT this site was super helpful in explaining the relationship of feed and production at different times during the does lactation cycle. I'm definitely copying it and studying it further. It is clear that feed changes need to be made in advance of periods throughout lactation because body reserves are being consumed to keep up with milk production. 

But back to solving my problem. This chart will help, maybe not right away but in time for it will show patterns I can learn from and make changes. It has the Current date, does name, how far the doe is in her lactation, type of feed or feeds being fed, how much, and amount of milk produced. Notations can be made for weather and other disturbances since heat and cold do change production amounts as well as changing milking times. I kept records for several weeks and it has helped me make changes to it so it better suites my needs. Things were the same as far as amount of grain and amount of milk production. I realized that doing it every day was not necessary. Several times a week works fine. But when I stopped for a week, or was it two, because of craziness in life, things had greatly changed .... Comedy is only picking at her grain and the milk pail shows it. 

So when we hauled the kitchen garbage to the land fill today, we went shopping for feed. I bought some beet pulp to help with the stuff. I bought some pellets that combine grain and alfalfa hay because our present bale of hay is not the best quality. I bought goat pellets. I've never used goat pellets but I thought I'd see what they do. I will mix in the remaining COB also. May be a pain to weigh each of them but what I am presently doing is definitely not working well. Since my greatest successes have been when I mix my own grain combinations then I'm going back to that.

So do you think a chart like this would help you? Any suggestions?


  1. We are in the processing of learning about goats to add them to our little corner of the world. I have learned so much from your blog. Have you considered how and what you would feed the goats if, as they say, the end of the world hits?

  2. There are goat dairies which depend solely on grass but that would not do for us. We do not have enough land plus the snow becomes really deep in the winter, a long winter. In the future our hope is to work out some deals with the neighbors who are city folks living in the country to use their unused pasture. First we need to buy some portable electric fence. Unfortunately,we are still fencing human food plots,and dividing our pasture so money for that is not available yet. Meanwhile, we have purchased the correct kind of halters to tether our cattle and the goats of course can use dog collars.
    Since no one in our area has dairy animals, I figure we might make a deal with the ranches that border us
    on cutting some hay for the winter from their hay fields. There is our plan for varying situations.

  3. I am so glad you are learning a great deal. I am too. It seems like no matter how much I know it just does not seem adequate to my needs but then life is suppose to be about learning. It is why we are here.

  4. I was also wondering what you do as far as vaccinations. I have been reading a lot about goat diseases and vaccinations for them. Do you get your goats vaccinated?

    1. I do not vaccinate simply because there is not another goat for miles around and mine do not leave home except when sold. The goats that I buy are vaccinated and from one show herd that I trust. Your situation may be very different than mine and require vaccination. Sorry I am of no help.