How do you know when you need to add goat supplements into the diet of your herd? Goats will eat just about anything, right? It’s a common misconception that goats will devour anything that’s not nailed down, including tin cans, paper, and articles of clothing. While it’s true that goats will nibble on almost everything in sight, they’re actually somewhat selective in the types of food they consume. Because of this, many farmers struggle to ensure their goat herds are receiving enough nutrition in their diet to support body functions and overall health. One of the best ways to ensure a healthy herd is by adding goat supplements into herd diets.
Using Goat Supplements to Enhance Diets
There are four common food types that goats eat:
- Pasture grass and hay – The aforementioned hay refers to alfalfa, timothy, and Bermuda hays that are still green. Weeds, grass, and hay make up approximately 90% of most goat diets.
- Grain – While grains aren’t necessary for goats to survive, they’re a great way to increase their protein, vitamin, and mineral intake with limited portions.
- Minerals – More than anything else, goats require a generous amount of minerals to maintain optimal health levels.
- Forage – This isn’t necessary to the survival of a goat, but foraging often allows a herd to consume nutrient-rich vegetation they wouldn’t normally eat or find in common diets.
A combination of these four food types will improve the health of your herd.
Mineral Goat Supplements
Goats need minerals to support healthy body functions. Mineral deficiencies in goat diets can lead to a number of unhealthy symptoms that affect the value of the herd and negatively affect growth rates, dairy production, and breeding ability. The most common effects of mineral deficiencies include:
- Weak muscles
- Trouble breathing
- Stiff joints
- Skin problems
- Deformed hooves
- Excessive salivating
- Weight loss
- Low milk supply
- Slow kid growth
- Reduced fertility
The list goes on. Essentially, goat health is directly linked to their intake of minerals that support nutrient health. Ruminant and goat supplements can enhance your herd’s ability to produce milk, breed healthy stock, and achieve peak health.
Essential Goat Supplements and Minerals
There are nine types of minerals goats require to maintain health; selenium, zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, manganese, and sodium. A mistake many novice farmers make is feeding their herds large amounts of grain-based goat feeds.
Little Known Dietary Facts:
- Do not supply minerals to goats in block form. Most blocks are saturated with salt to minimize the amount of licking goats perform in one feeding.
- Goat diets shouldn’t include more than 10% of grains. A grain-heavy diet will lead to constipation and poor health. In addition, many grains are high in phosphorus and low in calcium.
High-producing herds are more likely to require goat supplements to support a healthy existence. Dairy goats and breeding stock fall into the high-producer category. Supplying pelleted supplements that can deliver a healthy dose of vitamins, protein, and minerals is a great way to establish a healthy diet routine. As a matter of convenience, pelleted supplements can easily be mixed into feeds or grains for regular consumption.