Factors Influencing Animal Requirements

A certain amount of each nutrient is required for maintenance of the body, which is the need for nutrients the animal has to keep warm, and to maintain its body weight. A mature dry doe or a mature wether are examples of animals having maintenance requirements only. Additional requirements above those needed for maintenance are required for growth, pregnancy, lactation and hair production. As the productivity of meat goats is increased through selection and crossbreeding with goats having a higher production potential, such as the Boer goat, nutritional requirements will also increase. Therefore, the more productive goats should be fed high quality feed, especially weaned kids being prepared for market, young replacement doelings and does in late gestation and early lactation. Does lactating twins or triplets have grater nutritional requirements than does lactating a single kid.

Goats grazing very hilly pastures will have higher nutritional requirements than goats on level pastures of the same quality because they will expand more energy to gather feed on difficult terrain.

In some situations where brush control in rough areas is the primary purpose of keeping goats, less productive animals can be roughed through and forced to work on brushy areas. If their body condition deteriotates, these animals can then be grazed on better quality pastures. Once desirable body condition is achieved, the same animals can again be used to control brush.


Nutrition of Newborn Kids. Colostrum is the first milk produced after parturition . Colostrum contains a high content of immunoglobulins (antibodies), vitamin A, minerals, fat and other sources of energy. Antibodies are proteins which help the goat kid fight diseases. The ability of kids to resist diseases is greatly affected by the timing of colostrum intake and the quantity and quality of the colostrum fed. Reports from cattle indicate that if left alone, 25% of the young do not nurse within 8 hours and 10 to 25% do not get sufficient amounts of colostrum. Colostrum should be ingested or bottle-fed (in case of weak kids) as soon as kids have a suckling reflex. In cases of extremely weak kids, they should be tube-fed. The producer must be certain that all newborn kids get colostrum soon after birth (within the first hour after birth, and certainly within the first 6 hours) because the percentage of antibodies found in colostrum decreases rapidly after parturition. It is crucial that the antibodies in colostrum be consumed before the kids suck on dirty, pathogen-loaded parts of its mother or stall. In addition, the ability of the newborn kid to absorb antibodies also decreases rapidly 24 hours after birth. Newborn kids should ingest 10% of their body weight in colostrum during the first 24 hours of life for optimum immunity. The extra colostrum produced by high lactating does during the first 24 hours following kidding can be frozen for later use when needed. Only first milking from healthy animals should be frozen for later feeding, and the colostrum from older animals that have been on the premises for several years is typically higher in antibody content against endemic pathogens than is colostrum from first fresheners. Revaccination against tetanus and enterotoxemia (over-eating disease) 2 to 4 weeks before the kidding date is commonly used to improve the protective value of the colostrum against these conditions. Ice cube trays are ideal containers: once frozen, cubed colostrum can be stored in larger containers and the trays used for another batch. Ice cubes are the perfect size for newborn kids, thus thawed colostrum is always fresh, and wastage reduced to a minimum. It is recommended to thaw colostrum either at room temperature or at a fairly low temperature. Colostrum should never be overcooked during the thawing process.

Nutrition of Replacement Does

Doe kids needed for replacement should be grazed with their mothers during as much of the milking period as possible and not weaned early. Following weaning, doe kids should be separated from the main herd and have access to high quality forage and receive good nutrition through first kidding at 1-2 years of age, depending on the nutritional plane. Leaving doe kids with the main herd will result in undernourished does that are bred too young and too small; these animals will never reach their production potential. A yearly supply of replacement does that are healthy, of good size, and free of internal and external parasites, is essential to the success of any meat goat enterprise.