Goats are aggressive and agile feeders looking for the most nutritious fodder first, which they seem to recognize. They show their food preferences for grasses over clovers, fence lines and steep lands over flat, open areas and will eat the best in a wide area before covering the same area for less nutritious foods. Understanding these preferences helps the goat farmer in selecting the best forage grass for his animals.
In Nigeria, for example, some farmers have dedicated themselves to the raising of goats. Definitively, in pens with roofs, built about 60cm above the earth. For this, they use straw, bamboo and split sticks. The floor is made with wooden or bamboo slabs leaving a distance of about 2cm. So that the urine and excrement fall to the ground. The pens are constructed in sunny places and protected from the wind. They put the dry fodder in feeders that are specially made and placed outside the corral, but always protected by the roof.
The mixture of grasses and legumes:
Goats have a shorter digestive tract than other ruminants and less able to digest the material in the cell wall. Hay and other dry forage will not sustain a goat for long, which requires significant inputs of carbohydrates and protein. For sustainable grasses, lawn grasses need to be mixed with legumes to ensure nitrogen fixation in the soil and prevent erosion.
The goats will eat the grass first, but they will not take them by the roots; then when the herbs are consumed, the goats will go to the legumes. Orchard grass and bluegrass are a good combination, along with red clover or hairy vetch-like legumes.
Alfalfa and Matua:
Alfalfa is a legume, but it is special about its growing conditions, and too much of it will give goats diarrhea. It is best to mix it with an abundant amount of grass seed. One herb that has been successful with alfalfa is Matua. A New Zealand herb that is currently being used for fodder in the United States. Even with a legume like alfalfa. However, the Matua has a proven need for nitrogen applied to keep it as in a self-reaping grass season after the season.
Hot and cold:
The rye is good in the early spring and the late cold season for the goat’s pastures. Rye can be applied without tilling in existing stubble grass and develops well in stubble, provided there is sufficient rainfall. If drought and heat are problems, you can try grasses that are more resistant to drought and heat, such as Bermuda grass, stick grass, oriental maicillo and Caucasian bluestem. Warm weather without drought may require sorghum maize, foxtail or grazing.
Check the green grass for weeds. Some weeds, such as milkweed, can lead to bloating – a potentially fatal condition for a ruminant. People used to think it was due to too-green fodder, but the damage is caused by certain types of vegetation and drastic changes in diet. Showing a wheat field before planting legumes and grasses can be an effective strategy for weed suppression, as buckwheat is very fast growing. Buckwheat also attracts pollinators for later sprouting herbs and legumes.
Many smallholder farmers have a little land. They would like to have cattle for the security. They cannot do so because they do not have enough land to have large animals there. One solution to this problem is to raise goats in pens and plant forage to feed them.
They grow the forage intensely. Goats like a varied diet. They need lots of clean and fresh dry fodder every day.
They make forage crops in any available land; can be on a plot near the corral, on a vacant lot or on the ridges or edges of some land where soil conservation is being practiced. The guano or excrement that accumulates under the corral is used to add it to the soil and thus improve its fertility.
They plant many species of plants, trees, shrubs and grass (grass). Trees or leguminous plants are very important because their leaves are generally rich in protein. At the same time, they fertilize the earth. Goats could live with the water that is on the leaves but would live better if they were always given clean water. This is especially important for goats giving milk.
If you give a good and varied diet to the goats that are pregnant, or to those who are breastfeeding, they will raise kids who are healthier.
Some useful forage plants:
|Small leguminous plants||Calap||Calopogonium mucunoides|
|Shrubs or leguminous trees||Pigeon pea||Cajanus cajan|
|Leaves and grasses useful||(Tropical spinach)||Amaranthus spinosus|
|Guinea grass||Panicum maximum|