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Green Fodder for Goats

Feeding Habits of Goats
Basically goats are browsers standing on their hind limbs, they always like to pluck tender leafy twigs of herbs, shrubs small trees. Goats have special feeding habits on account of their prehensile tongue and movable upper lip. In comparison to other domestic animals, goats have unique preferences for shrubs and tree leaves. Goats select from a wider array of plants, particularly woody plants. The goat is acknowledged as a mobile pruning machine that modified bushy shrubs and thereby increased the accessibility of cattle to more nutritious forage. This observation of synergistic effects between animal species has led to widespread acceptance of combination grazing.

Goats consuming approximately the same weight of forage DM as do sheep of similar size. It was suggested that  goats will eat more forage if they have access to the more preferred species. Field observations indicate that goats under browse conditions perform better. Devendra (1975) found that voluntary intake by goats decreased as the forage matured. The effect is overcome partially by chopping and pelleting the forage.

Browse (leaves and twigs of trees and shrubs) generally contain higher levels of CP and P during the growing season than do grasses, However, many of these contain one or more inhibitors that may bind or otherwise prevent utilization of nutrient contained in the plants, e.g. lignin, silica, tannin. Essential oils (terpene-based organic compounds) are present at relatively high levels in some range shrubs and apparently inhibit growth of rumen bacteria. There is growing evidence that many of the grasses, shrubs and tree leaves selected by goats are of high nutritional value.

Goats are reported to be less sensitive that other ruminants to the tixic effects of tannic  acid.

Common Feeds and Fodders

Tree leaves: Babul, neem, pipal, mango, prosopis, gliricidia, mulbery, subabul, banyan, etc. These tree leaves are also called as top feed.
Grasses: Cenchrus ciliaris, C. setigerus, Para, guinea, napier, etc.
Legume pastures: Stylosanthes jhamata, S. scabra, siratro, butterfly pea, etc.
Legume fodders: Berseem, lucerene, cowpea, etc.
Cereal fodders: Maize, jowar, oats, etc.
Dry feeds: Dry pods of babul (acacia), Prosopis juliflora, rain tree, subabul; cereal straws, legumes straws (groundnut haulms, gram straw), gram husk and gram waste.

A free choice lick of mineral mixture has to be kept in goat sheds.

Feeding of Kids

The kids should be allowed to suck its dam for the three or four days so that they can get good amount of colostrums. Colostrum feeding is a main factor in limiting kid losses. The effectiveness of the transfer of immunoglobulins from colostrums to kid’s plasma, is a function of antibody concentration, level of colostrums intake by the kid and time of consumption in relation to birth. Kids may loose the ability to absorb immunoglobulins from colostrums 20-28 Hours after birth, but there is an evidence that the ability persists longer in traved kids. It  has been reported that colostrums can be stored in a deep freezer for up to two years and remain immunoglogcally effective; Further, cow colostrums is also efficient for lambs and kids.Colostrum is given at the rate of 100 ml per kg live weight. Immunogobulins are thermosensitive. Therefore, during thawing, the temrature of colostrums should not be raised above 50°C. Colostrum can be preserved with 1 to 1.5% (vol/wt) propionic acid or 0.1% formaldehyde. Propionic acid is preferred for preservation as it keeps the pH value low. The chemically treated colostrums is kept at cool place to ensure better quality.

After 3 or 4 days of age they should be suckled only  for a   brief period to let the milk down. The finmal stripping should be done by keeping the kids with their mothers for an hour or so after milking. The number of offsprings produced by goats is higher than sheep. In some breeds of goats like black Bengal twinning and triplets are quite common. The non-descript breeds of goats may produce just sufficient milk for the offspring only under the average condition of feed supply. These goats produce between 0.3-0.4 kg of milk daily.
The kids start nibbling the grasses from 15 days of age. Creep feed is also introduced at the same time. These help rapid growth of the kids and hasten the development of the rumen.
Feeding schedule for a kid from Birth to 90 Days.

Age of Kids Dam’s milk or cow milk (ml) Creep Feed ( g) Forage, green/day (g)
1-3 days Colostrum 300 ml, 3 Feedings - -
4-14 days 350 ml, 3 feedings - -
15-30 days 350 ml, 3 feedings A Little A Little
31-60 days 400 ml, 2 feedings 100-150 Free choice
61-91 days 200 ml, 2 feedings 200-250 Free choice
*If milk is fed by the bottle, then it should be fed at the body temperature of the kid.

Two types of creep mixtures can be offered depending on the type of the roughage available, a creep feed with 12% DCP and 70% TDN has to be offered.

Feeding of Goats
Male kids are castrated at 3 to 4 months of age. This improves the growth rate and carcass quality. The expected growth rate us between 70 to 100g per day from weaning to slaughter. The slaughter weight is 25 to 35 kg for smaller and larger breeds. But they are slaughtered at lesser weights.

Feeding of goats for different physiological functions, such as reproduction and lacation has to be done. Good quality fodders containing 6% DCP and 62% TDN are needed to feed gestating and lactating does. Goats under intensive system of feeding stall feeding of goats may be undertaken profitably with complete feeds. Poor quality straws such as jowar stover/maize stover are ammoniated (by urea hydrolysis) and such treated straws are blended with concentrates. Goats  are considered to be better converter of fibrous feeds into chevon (goat meat) and milk of high biological value. Several unconventional roughages and concentrates are incorporated in complete feeds and efficiently used for economic meat and milk production.

Nutrition-related Metabolic Disorders

Enterotoxaemia
It is similar to that observed in sheep. Symptons are diahoea, depression, lack of coordination, digestive upsets, coma, and death. These are observed after excessive feeding of baby kids and mature animals. Prevention is by vaccination. The best prevention in stable-fed goats is frequent feeding of milk, grain, and forage in small amounts. Changes of concentrates and forages in the ratio should be introduced gradually over several days. Ketosis and parturient paresis (milk fever) are also observed.