“Living marshmallows” as breeders call them, white or cream-colored Saanen goats are known as calm and mild-mannered animals. This nature of them made them popular in the showmanship classes. In fact, even children could easily handle and take care of Saanen goats.
Other than their well-liked personality, they are admired as well in the dairy production industry. Each of them yields daily about 3.8 liters of milk with considerably lower butterfat content, highly depending on their lifestyle.
Their lifestyle greatly takes into consideration the incorporated feeding system tailored as they require. Of course, as goats, Saanens would love leaves, grasses, and other greens in their diet. Ideally, these types of food should be fed to them free choice in a pasture for them to browse every day all year round. Besides these, grass-based and/or legume hay and grains such as corn and oats should be present in their diet with water, a gallon or two per day.
Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, goats can be picky eaters at times. Hence, one should be careful when feeding them food that is not in the best condition. This is due to the fact that they tend to reject food that are smelly, dirty, wilted, or has been on the ground. Should the goats refuse the food and are deficient in nutrients, farmers may opt to incorporate supplements to their diet.
The success of farming goats, not only Saanens, highly depends on food management. Hence, farmers should know how to execute food management, designed for the particular goat properly. Aside from the types of food that should be present in the goats’ diet, one should also know the different variables that are present. For instance, the feeding system should also take into account the different ages of the goats, the seasons, or growth stages.
NECESSARY FOOD NUTRIENTS
As a dairy goat breed, Saanens, highly milk-productive, requires extra protein and energy in their ration. Aside from that, they should also have adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals for growth and rich milk production.
This nutrient is one that aids in building muscles, bones, blood, and internal organs. It is made up of amino acids, which are essential in all the procedures within the goats’ body. Protein can be provided to the goats through grass or legume hay like clover and alfalfa. Other than that, it is also present in soybean meal and in grains such as corn. However, should there be a deficiency in protein, one can opt to supplement the regular feed with commercial protein supplements.
Saanens, as other dairy goats, have energy as the most limited nutrient in their diet. This can be due to the insufficient feed intake, low-quality feed, and incorrect roughage to concentrate ratios. Insufficient energy among goats can result in the loss of weight, infertility, and poor production. However, energy can be provided through the feeding of grass, alfalfa hay, cereal grains, and bypass fats. Moreover, this can be fed in the form of commercial energy supplements if necessary.
These are the nutrients that sustain strength to the bones and teeth, and aid in other physiological processes. These nutrients are classified as either macro minerals or microminerals. Macrominerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, and potassium. On the other hand, micro minerals include copper, cobalt, iron, iodine, zinc, selenium, and manganese. However, macro minerals usually are deficient in some regular feed; hence, they are what nutritionists balance for. Nutritionists help formulate grain or feed mixes tailored to meet the needs and deficiencies of the goats.
Several vitamins have their respective functions in keeping the goats healthy. They are classified as either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, and K. Vitamin A functions in keeping the eyes, nasal passages, and lungs in the best condition. Vitamin D and K, on the other hand, function in keeping bones strong and in aiding blood clotting, respectively. These vitamins can be provided by feeding the Saanens with grains. Otherwise, a vitamin-rich Saanen can be achieved by providing commercial vitamin supplements.
ESSENTIAL GOAT DIET COMPONENTS
Browse and Pasture
These are perhaps the most efficient nutrient source for goats. They contain huge amounts of energy and protein, which are of the essential nutrients for the Saanens. Also, plants in the pasture have high tastiness and digestibility, which the goats will love. Furthermore, allowing the goats to browse freely will allow them to remain free from the threat of internal parasites.
Usually, goat pasture contains grasses such as Bahia and Sudan, millet, grain grass mixture, sorghum, and clover.
Aside from the benefit of cost-efficiency of having a pasture, allowing the goats to browse through also enables them to exercise. Greens can sometimes cause bloating; thus, it is imperative that the goats get their dose of exercise every day.
Grass-based or Legume Hay
Like the pasture, hay is also one of the most important sources of nutrition for the goats. Hay could also come in handy during the winter season or foul weather when the goats cannot go out to browse. However, it is important that the hay is a qualified grass-based and does not have molds. Weedy hay, for instance, is advantageous as it is cheap and contains a huge amount of nutrition.
Moreover, hays can be of different kinds. Among the many are legume alfalfa hay, lespedeza, and clover. Their common denominator is that they contain a good amount of protein.
If a goat farmer finds it hard to find good goat feed, one could opt to provide coarse grain. This should be between 12 percent and 16 percent in the goats’ ration. The grain is rich mainly in two elements – carbon and protein. Moreover, should one want to increase the growth and weight of the goats, one should offer creep and complementary feeding of kids.
Furthermore, other cereal grains are in the form of corn, oats, barley, rye, and moil. They provide a good amount of carbon or energy. Proteins, on the other hand, those that are found in protein supplements are from animals and plants. These include soybean meal, fish meal, cottons meal, and the like.
The grains can be pre-mixed or formulated by a nutritionist so that the mix is guaranteed to address the nutrient needs of the goats. Besides that, nutritionists also include in their formulation the specific conditions in the goat farm, particularly the pasture situation. This is done in order to minimize problems that may occur.
Minerals and Vitamins
These can be given by purchasing commercial mineral and vitamin supplements. However, they may only be given in small amounts, depending on the quality of the regular feed. One should provide a pre-mix of loose minerals that the Saanen goats prefer as well. Also, the goats do not need a lot of vitamins. They could do with small amounts of these as long as they are sustained with what they require – vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Water is present in basically all major body procedures of the goats. These procedures include growth, digestion, nutrient absorption, milk production, waste excretion, and milk production. Therefore, Saanen goats should have free access to fresh and clean water all the time. A gallon or two should be enough to last them an entire day.
SPECIFIC FEEDING REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN GROWTH POINTS
- Newborn kids up to 2 weeks old should be fed colostrum. Below is the recommended milk and schedule for newborn kids.
|Goat Age||Milk Amount in Ounces||Ideal Frequency Per Day|
|1 to 3 days old||4 oz||4|
|4 to 14 days old||8 to 12 oz||3|
|2 weeks and beyond||16 oz||2|
- At 1 to 2 weeks old, the kids may be offered dry feed or hay.
- At the fourth to the sixth week of weaning, the kids can slowly move on from milk or replacer.
- After the fourth month, the kids may be fed with good hay and half a pound of grain. However, it can also be of poor hay and 1 pound to 1.5 pounds of grain each day.
- Pre-kidding period for the does require extra energy, selenium, vitamins, and minerals to prepare for the kidding proper.
- Flushing period is two weeks before the breeding and four weeks post-mating. During this period, the does should have an increase in energy to guarantee optimal embryo survival.
- Gestation and dry phase should be the time when the does build up some weight. This is due to the fact that it will then be hard to do so during lactation. Also, it is important that the does are healthy to ensure healthy kids and good milk production. The does can be fed with grain at a pound or half per day with the regular forage.
Can a supplementary feed be manually and personally made without a nutritionist?
Supplementary feed are provided by a lot of farmers to their goats for excellent growth and production. Chiefly, it is best to consult a nutritionist to ensure the best for the goats. However, one can totally opt to make their own. One must research enough to know all the necessary nutrients that should be in the ingredients of the supplementary feed. All the minerals and vitamins for the preparation of the supplementary feed are available in the market. One can buy them separately and then mix them as soon as they are all ready.
How should goat feed be stored?
Goat feed can be stored in feeders located in the same building as the goats’ housing. However, one should make sure that the feed is stored in a safe place. By safe, it means that the feed is protected from contamination, damp, and vermin. It should also be secured. No feed can go to waste, and no goat waste can get in with it. Goats tend to be hygienic animals; thus, their feed should be presented in a hygienic manner as well.