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Goats - Voracious for grains

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1 Goats - Voracious for grains on Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:37 pm


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I've found this winter hard on the goats. My first winter with them was brutal. Constant blowing wind, 15+ ft. drifts of snow, but weight loss was never an issue. We also fed pellets, as the woman I bought them from had them on it. Within about 2 months we had weaned them entirely off pellets and had not had an issue since.

This year has been bitterly cold for us. Hubby just read an article that has December's monthly average temp lower than that of Antarctica. Right now it's -32 C with a -50 C wind chill, just brutal! My poor goats leave the shelter only for the heated waterer.

The weight loss concerns me, but I get it with the cold weather. So I have decided to supplement with oats and grains however, there's a problem. I cannot figure out how to give them oats and wheat without them gorging on it. If anything bagged (pellets included) come near their pen, they become ravenous and aggressive for it, standing on me to try and get at the bag (and my goats are polite, don't push me unless I get in the middle of something).

It's not a hunger issue, they go through about half to 3/4 of their feeder a day and I fill it up every morning with fresh hay and alfalfa. They refuse to eat off the square bales, so I only feed them off my rounds. It would be ideal if I could have a feeder in there to fill with oats and be able to trust that they wouldn't eat themselves until they explode. Is there a way to train this, to teach them not to engorge themselves?



2 Re: Goats - Voracious for grains on Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:57 pm


Full Time Member
Full Time Member
I remember reading somewhere (sorry do not remember where)
that they get more nutrition and more warmth from just hay then oats or grains. I used to feed rolled oats and barley when it got
cold until I read this now I just feed more hay or alfalfa
pellet on a limited basis.

3 Re: Goats - Voracious for grains on Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:05 am


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Golden Member
I bring my sheep a small amount of oats each day and store the oats where they cannot get at it.

4 Re: Goats - Voracious for grains on Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:30 am


You can't teach them not to engorge themselves. They will eat grain till they bloat and die. If they get enough to make them bloat and sick with the runs while pregnant, they may abort the fetus.

We found our goats did best with less grain and unlimited access to good quality round bales, not that high in alfafa. If i wanted to supplement them with more alfafa we did so with pressed blocks. I also would give them boss and oats with sometimes a touch of corn (mostly durring milking). I also somtimes tossed the cubes or boss mix with a bit of oil. They really liked the oil! And it adds extra calories and is good for their skin during winter. On extra cold nights i would pack warm water from the house. 

Mine were taught to be polite, and wait till grain was poured in each tub. Goats can be pretty pushy (not all, i had some really mild mannered ones) and will test you as to how much they can disrespect you. A great tool was my battery operated cattle prod. Only had to use it sparingly and mostly with the herd bosses. It makes a long beep sound when you press on it's trigger. One shock and after that the noise was enough to remind them to be polite. It never ruined any trust with them. 
They were also trained to the sound of a cracking driving whip...we could get the whole herd of 30 moving where we wanted to go with it and never used it on them..just walk close enough to behind and crack it in the air.
We found goats really respond to a same sharp noise and routine. If one acted disrespectful with me during milking they got nothing. They catch on quick!

Forgot to add. My goats snacked on their straw bedding when i added extra for the impending cold. They would lay in it chewing on the new strands. For animals in good to fair condition, this really gets their gut going. Stokes the furnace because their gut has to work harder. Same as what Karona mentioned with the hay keeping them warmer then grain. But, if it was me, i wouldn't stop giving them extra grain if they have become skinny this early in the season. Some owners also give beat pulp and goat grower pellets.

Last edited by JDWest on Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:53 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Adding more info, then removing a double post)

5 Re: Goats - Voracious for grains on Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:38 am


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Addicted Member
We gave our goats soaked beet pulp, with their mineral and nutritional yeast mixed into it, and a small amount of COB  once a day. That way I knew they were getting minerals (some won't eat the loose stuff) and they got some additional calories. And the beet pulp was soaked with hot water so it was still warmish by the time they got it. We tried to added a small amount of dried alfalfa pellets to the mix too, but they didn't seem to like them and really, they didn't need more protein, they needed more carbs.

If they find a bag of grain they will eat it until they bloat... no self control.

Like anything, you need to start with small amounts and work up to larger amounts so their guts have a chance.

Oh, one other item, our goats all learned to drink relatively hot water when it got cold out.. I guess it was like having a morning coffee!

6 Re: Goats - Voracious for grains on Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:38 am

heda gobbler

Golden Member
Golden Member

So straw, grass hay, beet pulp, all produce more heat than grain.

Certain grains are harder to digest than others. I give my Shetland sheep less than a quarter cup of whole barley each at night for good behaviour (late into the barn too late for barley). Not for heat production, just for a treat. I'd never trust them with a larger amount.

Old ewes get well soaked beet pulp with mineral added in winter, just in case their teeth aren't up to extracting energy from hay. Also makes sure they are well hydrated. Shetlands seem to prefer snow over water.


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