Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hi,

I have a question about the grain you all use for when you have a doe in milk. I have always used a goat ration #16 percent protein.  I have friends that say you shouldn't use a prepared feed but use whole grains, such as Barley, and they add alfalfa pellets to that.  The thought is that the prepared feed has ingredients that aren't good for rumenents.  Any thoughts?

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Hi Tammy! I am still bumbling my way through learning about feeds, feeding, and keeping my goats in good condition. Here is my experience. I'm curious to hear other answers as well.

We actually haven't ever used a prepared ration for our goats. The reason we haven't is that there is just not much available at our town's feed store. Whole grains are easier to acquire.

For a while, I just fed alfalfa as a milkstand ration. They did okay. Condition and production were decent. This year, the pastures were extra dry, so we are feeding them alfalfa plus grass hay, and grain for the milkers. We do some oats and a little barley. They radiate energy and health, their coats glisten and sparkle, and I can hardly keep up with the milk! I like feeling as though I'm doing something right, anyway. :P

I have had mine on whole grains, prepared feed and sprouted grains. My girls do the best on the grains that I sprout for 2-3 days before feeding. My main reason for getting them off prepared feeds is all the corn and soy that are packed into them. Now I sprout oats, wheat, barley, peas and black oil sunflower seeds for does in milk and babies. They have been doing SO well on it and my overall feed consumption has gone down because sprouting the grains makes the nutrients more bio-available. 

It took them a little while to get used to the switch but spritzing it with a little molasses really got them hooked. Now my goats and chickens all go crazy for the sprouted grains at feeding time!


I'm curious Emily, did you have any trouble getting your goats switched over to sprouted grains? I'd like to try them but I've heard of goats who strongly resist the change. 
Emily said:

I have had mine on whole grains, prepared feed and sprouted grains. My girls do the best on the grains that I sprout for 2-3 days before feeding. My main reason for getting them off prepared feeds is all the corn and soy that are packed into them. Now I sprout oats, wheat, barley, peas and black oil sunflower seeds for does in milk and babies. They have been doing SO well on it and my overall feed consumption has gone down because sprouting the grains makes the nutrients more bio-available. 

It took them a little while to get used to the switch but spritzing it with a little molasses really got them hooked. Now my goats and chickens all go crazy for the sprouted grains at feeding time!

My goats are always skeptical of new foods but I really didn't have any issue with switching them. I mixed it with their regular grain for 2 weeks and they never had a problem. I keep unsulfured black strap molasses in a spray bottle and spritz the grains before feeding it to them and they love it. 

Julieanne Cook said:


I'm curious Emily, did you have any trouble getting your goats switched over to sprouted grains? I'd like to try them but I've heard of goats who strongly resist the change. 
Emily said:

I have had mine on whole grains, prepared feed and sprouted grains. My girls do the best on the grains that I sprout for 2-3 days before feeding. My main reason for getting them off prepared feeds is all the corn and soy that are packed into them. Now I sprout oats, wheat, barley, peas and black oil sunflower seeds for does in milk and babies. They have been doing SO well on it and my overall feed consumption has gone down because sprouting the grains makes the nutrients more bio-available. 

It took them a little while to get used to the switch but spritzing it with a little molasses really got them hooked. Now my goats and chickens all go crazy for the sprouted grains at feeding time!

What a clever idea -  thank you!

Emily,
Could you possibly give some more information about how you do the sprouting? I like the idea. (After all, I sure like bean, alfalfa, mustard, etc. sprouts on my sandwiches, so I would imagine goats would too. haha)
Could you post a couple of photos so I can see your set up for sprouting. How much do you do at a time? How long can they sit after you start? Do you have any problems with spoilage? 
This sounds like something we might want to try, but I am just too mindless to imagine how you might do it. Please help!
How much do you give each doe? 

So many questions....

Thanks,

Michael



Emily said:

I have had mine on whole grains, prepared feed and sprouted grains. My girls do the best on the grains that I sprout for 2-3 days before feeding. My main reason for getting them off prepared feeds is all the corn and soy that are packed into them. Now I sprout oats, wheat, barley, peas and black oil sunflower seeds for does in milk and babies. They have been doing SO well on it and my overall feed consumption has gone down because sprouting the grains makes the nutrients more bio-available. 

It took them a little while to get used to the switch but spritzing it with a little molasses really got them hooked. Now my goats and chickens all go crazy for the sprouted grains at feeding time!

I thought I had responded to this days ago, but I don't see my response. Anyway, grain is not exactly good for ruminants. I'm curious what ingredient in prepared feed you're talking about that is not good for ruminants -- other than grain, which is obviously not the ingredient you're talking about, since you mentioned feeding grains specifically.

Many years ago we tried mixing our own grain, and we had pretty terrible results. It's probably one of the reasons we had so much trouble with copper deficiency in the early years. Goats are not native to the continental US, so we don't have what they need to thrive. In nature, they live in deserts and mountains. This is why we have to supplement with minerals in their mixed feed, as well as free-choice.

Deborah, I think my friend believes that there may be animal/meat proteins in the mixed rations. I am concerned about GMO corn and soy But I do believe in balance in my rations and am afraid to give just barley and afalfa pellets like she does. My goats do look healthy. The sprouting sounds interesting but I'm not sure how much time and work that would take!

Since the occurrence of mad cow disease, it's been illegal to feed meat to ruminants, although that doesn't necessarily rule out all animal products. Legally they do have to list all ingredients on the label though. I have seen feather meal in a mineral tub for goats, but that is on the label, so you can choose not to buy that. I've also seen "animal protein" on some labels. I think it was on chicken feed, although not for goat feed. So if you read the label, you should have an idea of what you're feeding. Most companies don't put much energy into hiding their ingredients because they know that most people don't read labels -- not even for food they are eating themselves. After all, how many people would eat KFC's mashed potatoes, if they knew they were 27 ingredients in it, most of which you cannot pronounce? (and the gravy has about as many ingredients too!)

Thanks! Ewww to the KFC food! Glad I don't eat there.

I'm pretty new to goat ownership and have been feeding my milker a Blue Seal dairy goat sweet feed.  I know that prepared grains aren't ideal for any ruminant, but also thought that during times of high-energy needs, such as milking periods, it's helpful to have the concentrated feed.  I give her about a cup with another cup of hay stretcher twice a day and her condition looks great.

Am I horribly off??

Also, I would LOVE to hear more details on how, what, amounts, etc., of whole grains people feed to their goats.  I would prefer to keep it as natural as possible.


The way I do it is very simple and easy. I don't sprout for as long during the summer because of spoilage issues ( live in FL and it's been in the 90's with like 90% humidity lately so lots of stuff goes bad fast). 
I have the grains pre-mixed in 5 gallon buckets that seal tightly with a little DE so the bugs can't get to it and it helps seal out the moisture. I scoop out what I'll use in 2 days during the summer and 3-4 days during the winter. I put the grain in an empty grain bag (the bags my grains come in from the local feed mill) and soak them for 16 hours in a 5 gallon bucket (I put the bag of mixed grains inside the bucket and fill it with water from the hose). I do this over night because it's too hot during the day to have the grains sitting in hot water. The next morning I pull out the bag and hang it on a hook to let it drain then take what I need. I use the water hose to rinse the grains between 2 and 3 times a day. My milking does get 1.5 cups on the stand twice a day. I also feed the grains to my chickens and rabbits in addition to their other feed and they LOVE it. It's very easy to tell if the grains are starting to spoil. I'm going to order a bag of Fertrell goat nutri-balancer so I can mix that with the sprouted grains for additional nutrients. 

Here is a link to the nutri-balancer if you want to look into that too :)

http://www.fertrell.com/premiergoatnutribalancer.htm


Michael Garwood said:

Emily,
Could you possibly give some more information about how you do the sprouting? I like the idea. (After all, I sure like bean, alfalfa, mustard, etc. sprouts on my sandwiches, so I would imagine goats would too. haha)
Could you post a couple of photos so I can see your set up for sprouting. How much do you do at a time? How long can they sit after you start? Do you have any problems with spoilage? 
This sounds like something we might want to try, but I am just too mindless to imagine how you might do it. Please help!
How much do you give each doe? 

So many questions....

Thanks,

Michael



Emily said:

I have had mine on whole grains, prepared feed and sprouted grains. My girls do the best on the grains that I sprout for 2-3 days before feeding. My main reason for getting them off prepared feeds is all the corn and soy that are packed into them. Now I sprout oats, wheat, barley, peas and black oil sunflower seeds for does in milk and babies. They have been doing SO well on it and my overall feed consumption has gone down because sprouting the grains makes the nutrients more bio-available. 

It took them a little while to get used to the switch but spritzing it with a little molasses really got them hooked. Now my goats and chickens all go crazy for the sprouted grains at feeding time!

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