The Nubian goat is a quiet breed that shows a lot of affection. Bred originally in 19th century Britain as a meat and dairy goat it has become more of a dairy goat in recent history. Therefore the feed requirements for Nubians is similar to that of any other breed of dairy goat: A diet high in nutrients and proteins as well as access to clean, fresh water. Additional nutritional needs of your goats can be provided through supplements.
When compared to other types of dairy goat the Nubian produces less milk but the milk that your Nubian goat does give is rich in flavour with a high butterfat content. That makes the milk a great option for those who want to make cheese.
Another great reason as to why Nubians make great dairy goats is their ability to breed for extended periods which means that you will have milk for most of the year. But what do you feed your goats to maximise the milk production whilst raising healthy animals?
The biggest expense with raising goats is that of feeding them but it’s not an area that you should skimp on if you want to have high-quality milk. Being the main source of food in winter when there are limited grasses, shrubs and weeds for your goats to much on you need to make sure that you are giving your Nubian goats the best forage you can afford.
Nubian goats can be fussy eaters preferring to look for forage that is appetising to them. You should supply your goats with a variety of shrubs and bushes. Though your goats are explorers when it comes to eating they will avoid anything that tastes off or they find unappetising. Eliminate or, if that’s not possible, isolate any weeds, shrubs or bushes that have the potential to affect the taste of the milk your Nubian will produce. Supplement the feed from the pasture with high-quality alfalfa hay which is a better source of protein, vitamins and minerals in comparison to other grass hays. Alfalfa also provides calcium which can contribute towards increasing the quality of your milk.
To add some diversity to your feeding regime you can look at providing your goats with concentrated dairy goat feed that is supplemented with loose minerals.
Minerals for your goats
When your goat lacks minerals it can cause your Nubian to have a range of issues such as infertility problems or miscarriages for those animals that are deficient in copper. Does who are lacking in selenium can have problems with birthing. Goats who don’t have enough zinc in their diet shed hair from their coat and foam at their mouths.
Therefore it’s important that you provide your goats with minerals that aren’t being supplied by your pasture and forage. Mineral or salt blocks are an option for providing you Nubian with the things that it’s lacking. However, the main problem with such blocks is that your goat’s tongue is soft which means that when your goat licks the block it’s not going to get much off it.
By providing your goats with loose minerals is the better option as it allows them to consume as much as they need. You can provide the loose minerals in a feeder attached to the wall of their shelter in a place high enough from the ground so that the feeder doesn’t get contaminated.
Salt is essential for the health of your goat by re-establishing the blood salt levels and maintains the balance of the cells in your goat. Salt also aids in the digestive process of your Nubian. The amount of salt that your goat needs depend on the animal itself, the temperature and your goat’s diet. You will find that your goat will consume as much salt as it needs, which can range from a wee bite to quite a few ounces! Provide salt in a loose form similar to the way you supply your minerals and make sure that your goat has access to clean, fresh water.
Loose salt should clump together in when it’s humid outside. If your salt doesn’t clump is an indication that it has been treated with anti-caking agents which prevent the salt from forming lumps, therefore, making it easier to package. The issue with these agents is that they can prove to be toxic to your animal as well as stopping the salt from mixing with the water in the body of your Nubian.
Avoid white salt as it is salt that has been bleached which strips the salt of its natural trace elements. Natural salt is tan, grey or pink in colour so only consider purchasing salt for your goat that comes in any of those colours.
Water is an integral part of your goat’s diet. It’s a nutrient that your Nubians need to help with their digestion, regulate their body temperature, absorb and integrate other nutrients, aids in the growth of kids, helps remove toxins out of the goat’s body and strengthens milk production.
The amount of water that your goat needs will depend on the animal itself as well as the temperature with summertime seeing your goat needing more water than in the winter. The rule of thumb when it comes to exactly how much water your Nubian needs daily is anywhere between half a gallon to three gallons daily.
Make sure that the water supply is located somewhere that is easily accessible to the herd whilst protecting the water from the possibility of it becoming contaminated. Your goats aren’t stupid and they will know when the water isn’t drinkable, which will lead you to having a very thirsty herd!
To encourage your Nubians to drink, keep the water cool in summertime and in the wintertime warm up the water.
Feeding your doe
Your does diet should be similar to that of the rest of the herd. However, when the doe is pregnant or lactating you need to change out the diet. After giving birth your doe has a high nutritional need to help in the production of milk.
During the dry period when your does aren’t producing milk feed them with a reduced calcium-phosphorus diet by giving them hay with lower concentrations of these nutrients. The change in the feeding regime of your doe is to ensure she doesn’t contract milk fever during the 6 weeks before giving birth and the 10 weeks after she has kidded.
4 to 5 weeks before lactation feed your female goats with a ha6 that provides 9% – 11% protein. To prevent issues with ketosis give your does ½ to 1 kilogram of grain to help the rumen get used to the higher grain feed of your does while they are lactating.
When it comes to water requirements your does will need 3.5 litres of water for every litre of milk they produce.
Feeding your kids
Your young goats need a balanced grain ration whilst those who are still needing milk from the does should be provided with a normal dairy grain feed. Kids should be given milk until they are three months old. They should be eating forage by the time they are two weeks old and grain by the time they reach four weeks old. Also, provide them with a loose mineral mix.
Within the first 24 hours of being born feed your kid with colostrum so they can take in the appropriate antibodies.
Feeding your bucks
Bucks, like kids, need a balanced grain ration. When out of breeding season you can give your bucks high-quality hay.
Most of the nutrients that your buck needs is provided by the forage they eat, however, young bucks (those who are 2 years old or younger) need a greater concentration of nutrients to help them grow and reach an ideal body condition of between 2 and 4 (which indicates a healthy goat). If the body condition is less than two can mean that there is health problems or issues with the way you are managing your herd. Prior to the breeding season, you should monitor the body condition of your bucks.
To supplement their diet you should feed your bucks with a whole or shelled corn at a ratio of 0.25% – 0,5% of the goat’s body weight.
Rotate your pasture
To ensure that your goats have access to fresh forage and grasses, look at a pasture rotation regime. This will provide your goats with fresh feed.
By having your goats move from pasture to pasture will minimise the possibility of overgrazing which can lead to your goats being exposed to parasites which will lead to your Nubiam contracting worms.
Forethought and planning means healthy goats
Though feeding your Nubians is a major part of your expenses it is not an area that you should tighten your money belt on. If you want to maximise the production and quality of the milk your does provide as well as making sure your kids grow up strong and healthy while making sure that your bucks have a body condition of between 2- 4 requires planning.
By thinking ahead and creating a comprehensive feeding schedule that meets the nutritional needs of your goats will not only minimise the possibility of your herd becoming sick or malnourished it will also enhance the quality of your Nubians.