The characteristics of goat nutrition

The characteristics of goat nutrition

In the old days it was often thought that ‘the goat is the poor man’s cow’. Although the goat is one of the farm animal species that had been domesticated the longest time ago (in the late Stone Age, around the start of the Neolithic period, 10 thousand years B.C., in Asia and the Middle East), the development of goat breeding over time brought some disappointments: although the goat population is expanding continuously all over the world, the economic importance of goat husbandry falls behind that of either cattle or sheep breeding, despite the fact that goats have good milk- and meat-producing ability.

On the basis of their production capacity, goats would deserve a more important role: while e.g. a dairy cow produces about 20.1 kg milk per kg of liveweight in an economical manner during one lactation, the milk production of a doe bred for milk production is almost twice higher than that, approximately 39.7 kg per kg liveweight. In addition, the energy and dry matter contents of goat’s milk are about 10% higher than those of cow’s milk. At the same time, according to the current breeding program the corrected kid-age daily body weight gain of Boer goats bred for meat production should reach minimum 180 grams per day in the female and 210 grams per day in the male sex, with a dressing percentage exceeding 50%. In view of these performance indices it is easy to understand that goats need a similarly professional and accurately elaborated feeding strategy for high-level production performance as any other farm animal species.

The rearing of goat kids mostly depends on the breed and the purpose of utilization. In the case of meat-producing goats the kids are naturally raised by the does, while in dairy goat herds artificial kid rearing is a common practice. However, it is important to point out that in both types of utilization the development of kids greatly depends on nutrient supply during the last moth of the fetal period and in the critical first 1.5 months of life. During their subsequent development it is very difficult for the animals to make up for any deficiency or retardation suffered in these periods. The Crémo Gold milk replacer offers an excellent solution for the artificial rearing of kids from meat-purpose does of lower milk production or from does in dairy goat herds. Owing to its high milk protein ratio, optimal amino acid composition and whey protein of excellent quality (which is more important in the case of goat’s milk than in cow’s milk), this milk replacer provides an excellent basis for the adequate development of kids. As an own-developed product of Bábolna Feed Ltd., Crémo Gold contains a fat source from which the kids can meet their essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid requirements. Thanks to the antimicrobial effect of medium-chain fatty acids and the three different types of probiotics contained by it (Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, Enterococcus faecium), the product suppresses the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestinal tract, thus preventing the occurrence of diarrhoea due to imbalances of the gut microflora. At the time of change-over to solid feed, it is also very important to offer a highly digestible feed of good quality, as adequate development of the gut microflora of kids will have a long-term impact on the feed utilization capacity of the animals. In addition, the development of proper rumen structure is at least as important. The morphology of the rumen also undergoes the greatest changes at the time of switch-over to solid feeds. The optimal development of rumen morphology is supported by Crémo Muesli Starter, which facilitates the formation of the highest possible number of rumen papillae creating the largest possible feed adsorptive surface in the rumen owing to the physical properties of the feed and the volatile fatty acids (primarily propionic acid and butyric acid) produced during the fermentation of grain kernels. Crémo Muesli Starter consists of flaked feed components (maize, barley, fullfat soybean) and conventional pelleted feed particles, and its nutrient content is optimally adjusted to the composition of the Crémo Gold milk replacer. Thus, these two products constitute a complex, full-value nutrition system ensuring the proper development of young goats. Thanks to its high molasses content it is highly preferred by young animals. Concentrate supplementation is needed also in the pasture-based fattening of young meat-type goats, and the optimum composition of feeds is particularly important in goat stocks kept in closed systems, where the animals cannot take up all micro- and macroelements needed for optimum development from hay or cereals, even if their energy requirements are met. During the raising of meat-type goats the economic aspects must also be taken into account and cost-effective feeding solutions must be used. The Lambex single-phase small ruminant grower diet offers an excellent solution for this, as this fully valuable pelleted feed of optimum nutrient content provides a great basis for economical kid rearing.

The nutrition of dairy goats requires the same precision as that of dairy cows. An optimally kept and fed dairy doe of adequate genetic background may produce as much as 1,000–1,300 kg of milk during her 270- to 300-day lactation, which is a great achievement from an animal of only 60–65 kg body weight. In view of this it is easy to understand why such a high level of production requires, besides the best possible genetic background and good management technology, a feed of very high quality and optimized nutrient content which helps maintain the animals in adequate body condition even at high production level. This is very important since the does are bred and preparation for the next lactation is started during the lactation period. This is a highly sensitive and delicate system where even the smallest shortcoming is manifested in a decrease of production. The Bábolna Dairy Goat Diet offers the most in all respects: its optimally balanced nutrient and energy content provides a solid base for high-level production. Its microelement and vitamin content perfectly meets the requirements of milk production, while its highly digestible nutrients and high energy content prevent the body condition loss of female goats and help prevent the development of energy deficiency syndromes (e.g. ketosis).

The facts described above disprove the general notion that goats are undemanding animals that get by on any type of poor-quality feed. While it is true that the maintenance energy requirements of goats are relatively low, for high-level production they need optimal nutrient supply and precise, high-standard feeding. Therefore, it is worth meeting their demands as closely as possible, they will reciprocate our work with high-standard production!

Eszter Szentirmai
sales representative

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