Just as there are many different types of goats, there are also many ways of feeding your goats. It is important to build a relationship with your nutritionist to choose a feeding system that is right for you, in order to maximize your herd's potential.
Also it is good to keep in mind your male goats (bucks), as they have their own particular nutritional needs. See Caring for Your Male Goat.
There are four main feeding systems:
Dry matter intake drives production (whether it be growth or milk production). One of the biggest factors that influences dry matter intake is water consumption.
TMR feeding is the practice of weighing and combining all the necessary components in their diet and mixing them thoroughly to prevent the goats from separating and sorting each ingredient. These rations typically contain large volumes of forages with various supplements added in order to meet all the goat's nutritional requirements.
What are the advantages of TMR?
What are the drawbacks of TMR?
For more on feeding your goats by TMR, read the following case study by Ontario Goat: Total Mixed Rations at Roos Dairy Goats
PMR is similar to TMR in that it involves mixing the bulk ingredients in a mixer along with some of the micro-ingredients. The pellet supplement/concentrate is added either as a top-dressing or can be fed in the parlour as an added incentive for the goats enter the parlour for milking. Though very similar to TMR there are still pros and cons when compared to TMR.
What are the advantages of feeding your goats by PMR?
What are the drawbacks of PMR?
For more on feeding your goats by PMR, read the following case study by Ontario Goat: Implementing Partial Mixed Rations at Sunny Day Acres
Component feeding is another forage based feeding system that uses a pellet supplement/concentrate that is formulated to supply the nutritional needs that are lacking in the forage. Just as in the PMR system of feeding the pellet is fed either as a top-dress or in the parlour. Where they differ is that instead of mixing the components in a mixer each type of component is fed separately at the bunk.
What are the advantages of feeding your goats this way?
What are the disadvantages?
For more on Component Feeding, read the following case study by Ontario Goat: Implementing Component Feeding for Meat Production with the
The Complete Feeding System is a pellet based feeding system. All the nutritional needs of the goat are included in the pellet. Since goats are ruminants they require forage in addition to the pellets in order to keep their rumen active and healthy. In this type of feeding system it is important to be feeding your goats high quality straw or hay ad-lib. It is key to remember that though the forage portion of this diet is small in proportion to the pellet consumption, it is still a very important part of the feeding system. Insufficient amounts of forage may cause problems such as Acidosis which in turn decreases production.
Advantages to Complete Feed:
Disadvantages to Complete Feed:
For more on feeding your goats by PMR, read the following case study by Ontario Goat: Complete Pellet Feeds at Bushwalker Farm Ltd.
Ensure that your goats have access at all times to clean, fresh water. Goats are picky about their water which in turn affects milk production and growth rate. Would you drink from a dirty cup out of the sink that has last night's supper splattered on it? probably not. So the same goes for your goats - keep their water troughs & water bowls clean to encourage their water intake.
One way to increase your goats' water intake through the winter is to circulate warm water (approx 20 degrees) through the water lines. This can increase milk production in the winter by approximately 0.2L/goat/day.
Water bowls are recommended for use in the bedding pack. They are relatively easy to keep clean, and are a great way to provide that constant source of clean, fresh water. It can also be a method for medicating your whole herd.
If you are using water bowls, follow a ratio of 1:20. For mature goats, the water bowls should be 22 inches off the bedding pack.
After milking, goats are especially thirsty and need to replenish their fluids. A water trough can be useful as an extra source to have available only after milking, so that they don't have to fight for space at the water bowls. The main drawback to water troughs is that they are difficult to keep clean.