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Goats/won't eat weeds


QUESTION: We purchased 3 Nigerian Dwarf in April, they were 8 weeks old. They are in a 30 x 30 pen with a house and toys. When they were first brought home, their area was dirt. We fed them cow hay, alfalfa and grain. Now there are many weeds growing in their pen, and they don't eat them. I have cut out their hay and feeding grain once a day and they still are not interested in eating the weeds. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Tracey

ANSWER: Goats are extremely picky eaters - do you know what kind of weeds these are?  Some weeds are poisonous to livestock and goats can sometimes know which are bad and not eat them.  Would not cut out hay ever as goats need the "scratch factor" that hay gives to the rumen - it allows the rumen to keep good bacteria or the rumen will die.  Just grain is not good.  Would go back to giving hay (goats really do not need alfalfa) and grain.  Are they drinking water well?  Let me know - Donna

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I believe the weeds are pigweed. The cows eat these, so I do not believe they are poisonous. But my spoiled goats won't eat grass, pear leaves, pecan leaves or anything else that grows freely around our property.  They only thing "green" we have given them that they like is pine needles! They have an automatic waterer that refills as they drink. I also give them minerals and baking soda. (free feed)  I gave them hay last night as I feel sorry for them, but I really would love for them to keep their pen weed free. Any other ideas?
Thanks, Tracey

Since goats are browsers and not grazers, their last want is to eat weeds and grass.  They certainly will eat them if there is nothing else to eat and they are hungry.   I have one pen that is about 1/2 acre and has 1 foot tall grass and lots of weeds here and there and all are green but the goats do not touch them - they are used to their grass hay and know they get it in the a.m. to last all day.  Only once did I see them munching on the pasture and that is when I was a few hours late for their regular feeding.  The folks who have the weed eater goats that they rent out always keep their goats on the thin side so anytime there is a tiny bit of green the goats are munching it.  Not much help - sorry about that.  If I think of anything I'll let you know - Donna


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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres


All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.


27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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