Goat nutrition thread… Goat Nutrition is the science of feed preparation and feeding goats to produce either milk, meat or wool. I will cover the main principles in this thread and share another thread with more practical nutrition tips.
The way I think of goat nutrition is that as a meat goat farmer, I am in the business of converting feed in its raw state into meat. It is thus important to understand goat nutrition as it significantly affects both quality and quantity of meat. It also affects quality of ..
..breeding stock I produce as a stud breeder. Good nutrition increases reproductive efficiency: higher cyclicity, lower age at first calving, lower inter-calving interval, higher productive life and higher profitability to farmers (FAO/IAEA, 2002).
Nutrition, singularly, is the most important factor affecting livestock productivity and profitability. Because of this, I spend a considerable amount of time and resources on ensuring that my goats are receiving adequate nutrition.
Animal nutrition focuses on studying the dietary needs of the animals. These dietary needs consist of nutrients, which are the components present in the feed that animals can digest and utilise. Hence, when feeding a diet, it is important to first evaluate its nutrient content.
For me its not necessarily about filling up the animal. It is about providing the correct nutrients to the animal. This is why it’s extremely important to read the nutrition content of commercial feed and to send samples of home made feed to the lab for nutrition analysis
Goat nutrients are mainly carbohydrates (or energy sources), protein, minerals and vitamins. It is important to understand that a goat needs a certain minimum amount of these nutrients in its diet to flourish. Shortage of one nutrient can cause productivity losses.
One of the key principles to understand in animal nutrition is the principle of the primary limiting nutrient. Deficiency of a primary limiting nutrient will result in decreased production, reproductive failure, increased mortality and generally sick animals.
Energy is the most common primary limiting nutrient for goats. Energy sources include pastures, hay and grains such as maize, sorghum, millet etc. Total digestible nutrients (TDN) is used to express the energy value in feeds. Generally the greater the TDN of feed, the better.
Protein is mainly from legumes, vegetative plants and urea. It is also from soyacake, sunflower cake, chicken litter and cotton seed cake. In the dry season, protein becomes the primary limiting nutrient in most animals that rely on the veld. In goats, protein quantity is more..
important than quality. Protein deficiency results in stunted growth. On the other hand excessive feeding protein is expensive and hurts the pocket of the farmer. Ensuring a balanced diet with adequate protein is thus key.
The other important constituent of a goat’s diet are minerals although in smaller quantities. Macro elements such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are key. Copper, selenium, sodium and cobalt also play important roles. Mineral deficiencies can affect reproduction and health.
Generally goats get most of the nutrients they need from the veld. However, it is worth noting that the primary limiting nutrient in summer is normally phosphorus. This is why it’s important to supplement with phosphate blocks in summer.
Lastly on nutrients, vitamins are also key. The vitamins include fat soluble (A, D, E, K) and water soluble (all B vitamins and C). Vitamins are rarely deficient under grazing conditions. Both Vitamin A and Vitamin E deficiencies can occur in drought.

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More from @JayMukanya

13 Sep
Continuing with goat nutrition… this thread is more to provide some practical nuggets around the topic having laid the foundation earlier…
Goats are predominantly browsers rather than grazers… although they can graze head down in pastures like sheep, if given the choice, they often prefer to reach for the leaves of trees or shrubs – heads up!. Goats that browse are happier and healthier goats!
As mentioned earlier, the primary limiting nutrient in summer is phosphorus. We generally supplement the goats on veld feeding with phosphate blocks during the summer months and have seen very positive results from a production perspective. They feed on the blocks free choice.
Read 12 tweets
31 Jul
Price vs Value…Goat farmers or farmers in general, it’s important to understand the difference between the price of something and its value. Its something that I have taken time to unpack and its empowered my buying decision making. I hope this thread is insightful to you.
Price is the money or amount paid to get something. Value is the utility of worth of the commodity of service for an individual. Price is the amount you pay. Value is what the product or service pays you. A product with one price can have different values for different people.
If you buy a goat for R2k, that is the price of that goat. Its value is the offspring it gives you, the emotional value of owning the goat and eventually what you sell it for or the enjoyment you derive from the meat when you slaughter it. Value can be financial and non financial
Read 6 tweets
21 Apr
The curious case of a goat cellphone farmer. I would like to state upfront that the line of this thread is not to discredit full time farming, there are instances where that it is preferable.. This thread shares insights from farming remotely and is based on my own experiences.
My interest in farming started at a tender age when every school holiday of my high school, I would visit my late uncle who had an A1 farm in Nyanga, Zimbabwe. I credit him for inspiring my passion in farming.
What really struck me was that my uncle, in his later and most successful years, did not “work” on his fields. He would spend his time planning, reviewing operations, attending workshops, finding markets for his produce and visiting other farmers.
Read 24 tweets
21 Mar
Most farmers rely heavily on dewormers to treat worms. However many cases of worm resistance to dewormers are being experienced and it’s important to use dewormers in a responsible manner. Rather than rely on treatment of worms, rather follow the plan suggested below:-
There are a few misconceptions and misinformation that is shared as good practices that has actually been proved wrong by recent studies on worm resistance to dewormers. I will cover a few of these below.
The first misinformation is around changing dewormers. I have often seen farmers being advised to change dewormers frequently. Consensus actually suggests to NOT rotate dewormer drug classes more frequently than annually. Rapid rotation is thought to lead to multiple class AR.
Read 6 tweets
22 Feb
What are the key success factors for goat farming? The thread below are my own reflections on the key success factors in goat farming. I have farmed with Boers, KRs and Mashona goats. #ZimAgricRising #GOAT
Have a passion for goats. For me this is the biggest and most important aspect. I read every publication I can find on goat farming. I research issues. I talk to other goat farmers. I visit goat farms. I am on lots of goat farming groups. Talk, sleep, dream, think, read goats!!!
Choice of breed of goats. When you come to think of it, you want to own goats that are fertile, hardy, and very resistant to potential parasites that they might get in their environment. For me the best breed is the one that can do well in your environment.
Read 9 tweets

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