Nutrition and Care for Pregnant Goats
Nutrition and care for pregnant goats is a guest authored article by Dwite Sharp of Paradise Ranch Packgoat Research and Development, edited by PackGoats.com.
Over 20 Years of Experience in Nutrition and Care for Pregnant Goats
Through the years (more than 20) I have made a lot of mistakes while trying to become the best steward of pack goats that I could. I have backed up and made some U-turns while trying to get it right. Through the years I have surrounded myself with some of the most knowledgeable goat experts I could find, from a Veterinarian that I truly believe to be one of the top goat Vets anywhere to the top goat Research facility in the world.
Nutrition has always been at the forefront of my search. I am receiving lots of questions now that so many of my girls are out there among you all and are pregnant and near their kidding date. What concerns me is the feeding of these these girls and the vast ideas people have about their nutritional needs. So I have decided to share with all that will listen my 20 years of experience with goat nutrition for pregnant does.
The Specifics of Nutrition for Pregnant Does
I keep my older pregnant does (above 2 yrs) on quality grass or grass/alfalfa hay until 45 days before their due date. Pregnant does less than 2 yrs I feed the hay plus 1 and 1/2 lbs of goat pellets. Now it’s the concentrates pellets, grains etc. that people are deciding their girls need that concerns me. I see all kinds of concoctions that folks are mixing up for their girls that are not necessarily the best.
I have a 16% (protein) goat pellet manufactured and delivered to a bulk tank 5 tons at a time. This is a complete, well balanced pellet for a doe, pregnant or not. You can not buy my pellets but there is a pellet that I recommend, that is very similar. Purina Grower. Purina does more research than all the rest of the feed producers combined. So I recommend using Purina Grower, a pellet, and not subsidizing it with anything else. No corn, no oats, no COB etc. And of course they will always need their hay, loose mineral and baking soda.
Nutrition Scheduling for Pregnant Goats
30 days before their due date they should have a CD/T booster, to help protect the kids for their first month. Now back to what changes for the pregnant does at 45 days before their due date. They start to receive 1 and 1/2 lbs of the Purina Grower pellets each day. Of course the less than 2 yr old does are already receiving this amount. Now all the pregnant does are on the same page, receiving 1 and 1/2 lbs a day. You slowly raise their pellet ration to 3 lbs a day approximately 5 days before their due date. Now as you get closer to the due date these girls will likely not be able to eat it all in a single feeding and you will need to feed it approximately 12 hours apart.
About a week or so before their due date feed the pellets 60% in the early morning and 40% 12 hrs later, in the evening. Feed their hay in the morning and only enough so that it is gone by mid afternoon. Remove it if it’s not cleaned up. By doing this correctly your girls should kid in the daylight hours. In over 20 years we have had thousands of births, and only 2 were at night. And those 2 were because someone had filled up the hay feeder in the evening. Three or four days before their due date also switch to all Alfalfa hay. Alfalfa has calcium and calcium is needed to make milk. Keep the doe on 3 lbs of pellets a day after kidding if you want milk.
To dry her up stop the pellets and all Alfalfa hay, feed her only a ration of grass hay. This is what we do at Paradise Ranch Packgoat Research and Development and in over 20 years we have never lost a doe kidding (or from ketosis) and have never had a doe need a cesarean. We love all our girls and want their lives to be a success. Good luck to all! We have some spectacular kids on the ground and a bunch more to come.
-Dwite Sharp, Paradise Ranch Packgoats
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