Feeding Goats, Don’t Forget The Baking Soda
Unlike cattle and sheep, goats are browsers rather than grazers. That means they prefer to eat many different things rather than just mow grass. Goats eat almost all weeds and are excellent for clearing brush and scrub.
They also eat trees so choose your pasture carefully. If there are flowers, trees or shrubs that you intend to keep, don’t pasture goats there.
Goats can remain healthy during good weather by just browsing for food, without any grain supplement. The practical farmer just throws some goats out on pasture and lets them do their thing. If pasture starts to look too low, move the goats to better (higher) pasture to reduce the possibility the goats will become infected with worms grubbing in the soil.
In cold months or after kidding, goats will need supplemental feed. Hay and small amounts of grain should be fed. Minerals are a must. A mineral deficiency can kill a goat if it continues for too long. Goat blocks and loose minerals can be purchased at feed stores, or online, and should be made available free-choice to the herd at all times.
There are many goat farmers who implement intricate diets, worming cycles and inoculations but I’m a free range, organic tender so I keep it as simple as possible. Don’t graze your goats on short pasture unless you plan to worm regularly and you’ll have to rotate worming medications as the goats build up a resistance. Any fruit or vegetable excess or scraps can go to the goats as well. Feed grain as a treat or when the goat needs the extra nutrition. I feed beet pulp instead of sweet feed because it’s high in protein but doesn’t result in stomach upset like overfeeding grain can. Make sure there are minerals out at all times and provide baking soda either daily or as needed.
Fiasco Farm is an excellent source of information about feeding and care.
— Naimhe Jeanne