Most people think goats will eat anything, “tin cans,” this simply isn’t true; they are actually very picky eaters. In spite of popular belief, goats are not strictly grazers actually, they’re browsers. The difference between the two are browsers like to take a nibble here and a nibble there of any bush or tree that they might have access to on your property. Shrubs and leafy plants will be the first things that goats go for especially the pretty ones! They will eat grass but if they have a choice they will choose leafy plants as evidenced in my backyard. All my bushes are stripped of leaves and the trees are trimmed perfectly at goat head height! However, we don’t mow our lawn because goats will default to the grass once everything else is shirred up. They’re really good at keeping my trees and bushes pruned to goat head height.
Now that there is some common ground in defining Nigerian feeding behavior let’s talk about what to feed. What you feed your Nigerian goats depends on 2 things,
- The nutritional quality of the soil in which the feed is grown.
- The gender and stage of your Nigerian goat.
What to feed Nigerian Does
The feeding regime we implement for our Nigerian does involves using quality alfalfa hay in the morning and quality forage hay in the evening. Alfalfa is legume hay and contains more calcium and protein than forage/grass hays. Legume hay (alfalfa) will have about twice as much calcium and protein as grass hay. Does in milk and their growing kids will benefit from the extra protein provided in the legume type of hay. Forage hay as well as Timothy, Bermuda and Orchard grass hay are all grass hays with lower protein and calcium percentages.
What to feed Pregnant/Milking Does and growing Kids
Our does are supplemented with a mixture 2:1 rolled oats and boss (black oil sunflower seeds). Does that are in the late stages of pregnancy, about 1 month to go are given the grain mixture to give them extra nutrition and energy for the finishing of fetal & mammary development. Growing goat kids need the extra protein provided by the grain. There are some premixed grain rations available in farm supply/feed stores. Check the label to ensure that the grain mixture is around 16% protein, 16% calcium to 8% phosphorus.
What to feed Nigerian Bucks/Wethers
Bucks and wethers are fed only grass type hays such as forage hay or Bremuda grass. Because of the urinary tract of male goats, they are at risk of developing urinary calcui or ‘stones’. The development of these stones can cause an obstruction in the urethral process (a small tube that acts as a urine sprayer). In our feeding practices we avoid feeding legume hay and grain to our bucks. There are a couple of things you can do to detour calcui build up. You can supplement their fed with aluminum chloride to counter act the acidity of the urine. Wait to castrate bucklings until they are 3-5 months old to give more time for the urinary tract to mature and open up more.