There is a misconception that goats will survive on anything. This has been proven to be false. While they do enjoy consuming weeds and scrub which are unpalatable to sheep and cattle, they will still need a diet which is nutritious. Healthy diets for goats will include herbage, grass, and mineral supplements (if needed).
If you are farming Angoras for fleece production, then good nutrition is essential at all times. Angora goats are only as good as what they consume.
Does will need to have good nutrition during pregnancy so that they can stay in good condition, as well as producing good fleece characteristics for their kids while pregnant, and feeding the offspring following birth. Bucks will need high levels of feed and nutrition leading up to, and during, the mating season.
Angora goats love Lucerne, all rye grasses, and some of the other modern versions of grass. Angoras prefer longer grasses and like to browse them. They love winter growing prairie grass too. However, they do not compete strongly with sheep and cattle for the good grass. They do not enjoy eating clover, they will if there is no other option.
As goats will consume plants that other farm stock will not, they are being increasingly used in place of weed killing chemical sprays. Some farm systems are currently incorporating wether goats to control blocks of land which have high amounts of weeds and shrubs, while the goats are still keeping up a reasonable bodyweight and growth of Mohair.
When managed correctly, Angora goats used for weed control can still produce good fleeces, which can created increased income for the farm while also reducing chemical spray costs.
Angora goats are best suited to weed control in the early months following shearing. If the fleece is short then there will be less contamination from twigs and leaves, allowing for a higher price of the fibre. If you must have the goats in shrub blocks leading up to shearing, then make sure the area is free from plants which could get snagged of the fleece, such as blackberries.
Rotational grazing keeps pastures at an even length, allowing for faster recovery times while still producing grass with high nutritional value. All farmers should implement correct rotational grazing management, whether it is for a small property, or larger runs requiring weed and scrub management.
Rotational grazing is a farm management system which incorporates the length of time, and location, which animals will be moved around the farm. Animals are moved from one paddock to another, on a regular basis in a rotational pattern, so that once the ‘last’ paddock has finished then the ‘first’ paddock is ready for stock again. This paddock grazing system allows for even amounts of feed available at all times, allows grass to recover between stocking periods, and keeps feed at high nutritional values.
It is also the most effective way to save areas of pasture for special periods, such as for when your does are in the last few weeks of their pregnancy, which can be done by removing that area out of the last rotation period.
The necessity for supplementary feeding in addition to grazing is dependent on many factors, including: the type of property, the number of Angoras present, and any adverse weather events.
If your goats have access to large amounts of nutritious pasture, then supplements may not be required. Although, it is widely believed that all goats do better if some dry bulk fibrous material is included in their diet, which could be provided in the form of hay.
If your farm has limited pasture or high stocking rates, additional supplementary feed will be necessary.
In Winter, hay is a great heat and energy producer in the goat’s ruminant digestive systems. Hay may also be used in Spring, when pasture can be dangerously lush for goats, as the hay ration acts as a filler reducing the amount of pasture which is consumed.
Goats love eating lucerne hay, and hay baled from the pea vines left over following pea harvest. Haylage is a great supplementary alternative to pasture but must be harvested correctly. During the harvesting of haylage, care must be taken to ensure that the ground is not disturbed, as dirt could contain Listeria which is lethal to goats. Please inform your contractor that the feed will be used for goats to ensure that the machine mower is cutting above ground level.
Grain supplement can be very effective in times of drought and bitter cold, although it is recommended to introduce grain gradually.
Supplementary feeds like Multinuts provide great nutrition and may also be used to modify animal behaviour with training. There are many types of stock nuts available on the market, each with different nutritional values, although all must be gradually introduced to stock.
These nuts may be used to tame Angora goats, especially young Bucks, by accustoming them to the close proximity of humans. This keeps their temperament modest, so that they are not so hard to handle later on when it comes time to shear, drench, or give them hoof treatments.
During the pregnancy and lactation periods, does must have high levels of nutrients, as it is essential to produce milk and overall animal health. This can be done through adding good hay, haylage, nuts, or grain to their diets if there is not enough pasture available.
Care must be had when feeding goats, as over consumption of pasture or supplementary feed may lead to acidosis, which causes death. Acidosis may be caused by stock overeating lush pasture growth during spring, although this risk may be reduced by removing stock after a short period of time or supplementing their diet with hay. Supplementary feed supplies must be stored in an area that the goats cannot easily access.
Mineral Enriched Salt Blocks
For vigorous normal growth, good bones, strong teeth, and high quality mohair fibre, it is essential to provide your Angora goats with a salt lick. Salt licks (or mineral licks) contain a mixture of minerals necessary for goat health, most importantly Iodine, but also including other trace elements (such as Selenium, Copper, Cobalt, etc.). Salt is essential to all living animals, with Iodine a mineral essential to the formation of the mohair follicles, even before the kid is born.
Position these blocks close to the animal’s water source.
Water is one of the most important aspects of a goat’s diet.
Goats do not like stagnant or dirty water and will travel long distances to find a clean water source if needed. Make sure that water troughs are cleaned regularly, and that they are at a height for kids to be able to reach.
Please ensure that any deep throughs have a way for small animals (kids) to escape, which may involve placing a block that can be used as a platform.