All the writers no matter what Magazine or paper they write for, or the guest speakers at Seminars, etc., are in full agreement on this subject. Get rid of any ideas you may have that goats can survive on anything and very little of that. This is a well-proven fallacy. Indeed, they do relish weeds and scrub and many other plants completely unpalatable to sheep and cattle, which is why they are being increasingly used in place of weed killing chemical sprays. They prefer this type of herbage but like to mix good grass with their diet. However, they do not compete strongly with sheep and cattle for the good grass.
The Association has available information on running wethers for weed control. There are papers that will help you to know when to put the goats onto the rough blocks and when to bring them off it. To achieve maximum scrub and weed control, while still keeping up a reasonable bodyweight and growth of Mohair. They will produce good fleeces, the sale of which gives a helpful cash flow while the property is being cleaned up.
After shearing, for instance, Wether Angoras can be put into the rough stuff for a few months, or until their Mohair is nearly ready to shear again only if there is no blackberry or anything they could get caught up in.
Where a fleece is the end product, good nutrition at all times must be our aim. Whether in a Stud, or out on the hills, Angoras are only what they eat, and the very best breeding can be useless if the animals do not get enough food to realise on the potential the breeding induces. Does in particular have to produce Kids as well as fleeces and the Bucks work very hard for months at tupping, so they all benefit from the best food you can produce. Angoras love Lucerne and they do eat clover but not usually their first choice. They seem to prefer all the rye grasses and the modern versions.
Angoras prefer their grass longer and like to browse when they can get it. They love winter growing prairie grass too. Ours relish Lucerne hay and hay made from the pea vines left over after the harvest of the peas and baled. Haylage is another alternative but it needs to be harvested correctly. When the grass is cut you need to ask your contractor to lift his mower so that it doesn’t cut into the ground and get dirt into the haylage as this could contain Listeria which is lethal to goats.
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The necessity for supplementary feeding in addition to the grazing availability is in the main dependent on the type of property and how many Angoras you are running on it. If your goats have access to free range pasture and plenty of it, then supplements may only rarely be required.
However, in New Zealand many of our members are on small holdings, with limited pasture available, and they wish to run a reasonable number of Angoras to be an economic paying unit, then they must accept that some supplementary feeding in addition to the grass available, is absolutely necessary. In any case, it is widely believed that all goats do better if some dry bulk fibrous material is included in their diet. On flat green paddocks of improved pasture, this is lacking and should be provided in the form of hay.
In Winter, hay is a great heat and energy producer in the goats ruminant digestive systems, and in Spring when pasture can be dangerously lush for goats, the hay ration acts as a safety valve, especially if fed out before putting the animals into this very lush Spring pasture growth. Never leave them on this lush pasture for very long initially, but introduce the soft food over a period.
Grain supplement can be very effective in times of drought and bitter cold, but again, be very careful, and introduce this gradually also. Make sure that the goats cannot get at your grain supplies, or they will get in and overeat and quite likely die. This is called Acidosis.
There are also many types of stock nuts, these need to be treated the same way by starting with a few and building up slowly, I find these nuts handy to tame all my Angoras, especially the young Bucks as they are growing up. It keeps these fellows good natured, and accustomed to the close proximity of humans, so that they are not so hard to handle later on, when they grow to enormous animals who, if toey by nature, can be very hard to drench or foot trim etc.
For vigorous normal growth, good bones, teeth and Mohair, it is essential to provide your Angoras with a salt lick containing most importantly Iodine, together with other trace elements such as Selenium, Copper, Cobalt, etc., if these are known to be deficient in your area. Position these adjacent to your waterers. Salt is essential to all living animals and Iodine has been found through much research to be essential to the formation of the Mohair follicles, even before the Kid is born.
Goitre is common in New Zealand goats, which apparently need plenty of Iodine in their diets, as a lot of districts soils are deficient in this mineral. If you have Kids who look all hunched, are too fat and podgy, but are not growing in height, etc., and who seem very lethargic and always end up at the back of the Kids when you are driving them, then examine under their jaws, and I venture to suggest that you will feel definite swelling in the goitre area. If your do find you have this condition in some of your Kids, go to your Vet, who will give them an Iodine injection. You will be amazed at the change, the improvement is almost miraculous.
Never neglect this most important component of the goat’s diet. They shun foul stagnant water and will travel for miles seeking clean water. Make sure you clean out their troughs regularly.
If you have large deep troughs please put some blocks in the water so that if the Kids fall in when playing around they have something to get up onto enabling them to get out. You also need to check that the Does and Kids can reach the water to drink.