Goats/general feeding of mixed boy/girl flock of nigerian dwarfs
I have 5 nigerian dwarf goats - 1 wether, 4 girls. I'd like to know what might I feed on a regular basis that is "OK" for the wether and good nutrition for the girls. No one is pregnant - 2 girls will however be bred fall of 2013 to kid if we are lucky in 2014. Right now they are still growing. No producing dairy.
I've been feeding Organic Green Mountain sheep and goat feed because the owner of the kids mothers used Organic High Energy Dairy 16 and the mothers got looser stool and less milk production. Switched to the sheep and goat version (same 16% protein) - poops were great and great milk production. We all have goat minerals so they should be getting plenty of copper.
But I've heard I shouldn't feed the boy any grain. I'm not interested in removing him every evening when they get their grain. They have hay all day in the winter and on pasture spring/summer/fall with lots of browse as well as grass stuff.
Very little grain during that time except as reward for going in the goat pen (they live with 20 sheep).
I generally feed organic so that is my preference but I don't have to if there are better nutrients in a different blend you recommend that the boy can have too.
I'd be happy with some item like a Chaffhay and never feed grain.
Once the girls are ready to be bred - I'd also like to get a recommendation of nutritional changes to do.
Let's talk about the wether - to keep from getting urinary calculi they must have at least a 2:1 but better is 3:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio in their feed - all their feed including hay and grain - so no hay that is high in calcium such as alfalfa is good for them. So with that said Chaffhaye is generally from alfalfa and therefore not a good hay for bucks and wethers. It is not the grain that causes the urinary calculi but the calcium to phosphorus ratio and not enough water intake.
16% protein is a very high protein for non production goats, that is goats that are not doing anything currently except for perhaps growing. For maintenance nutrition for all goats a 12 to 14% protein is all they need and a good grass or timothy hay.
As a grain I have used very successfully and very economically for all my goats, horses, pigs, and cattle, a general purpose livestock feed, this is pelleted and has a 14% protein - most feed stores, even organic stores will have a general purpose pelleted livestock feed. This also contains usually vitamins and minerals and if you are going to feed to sheep you must check to be sure no copper is in there since sheep cannot have copper, whereas goats need copper as well as do other livestock. The calcium to phosphorus ratio is usually a 2:1 or 3:1, perfect for the wethers and bucks. If I need to add extra protein, say for growing kids over 2 months of age or pregnant does in the beginning of their pregnancy, I add a calf manna/starter pelleted feed that has a very high protein and fat level as well as more vitamins and minerals - this is a supplement added to regular grain (I start my kid goats eating this at 4 weeks of age and then by 2 months they are given the pelleted livestock grain plus the calf manna for the huge growth production they will be undergoing.
It does, however depend on what you have available to you in your area. What type of hay are they currently on?
I have a great nutrition calculation - for hay and grain and this allows me to feed only the amount of hay they need, so very little wastage and no molding or "old" hay left in the feeders.
I also use a livestock or horse loose salt or bricks that contain selenium and other minerals - if you house sheep in with the goats though you could not use this as it normally contains copper.
Hope this helps - let me know - Donna