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How much space do you need to grow feed for goats?

Pregnant goat

As I began setting aside garden areas to grow fodder crops for goats, I realized that I needed to do some math. I'm starting to get a handle on how much supplemental feed Abigail needs to stay in good shape while pregnant, and I assume she'll need a similar ration while milking. So, based on that data, how much space would it take to grow the supplemental feed for one small milk goat during the six-month cold season?

Goat ration

Abigail didn't seem to need much other than hay during the beginning of the winter while her pregnancy was in its early stages, so I figure a sixth of a head of sunflowers and a carrot per day would provide the bulk of her ration during that time. In addition, I've been matching her carrot ration with a similar amount of butternut squash or sweet potatoes lately, figuring that variety is good for our goat's health, and I'll include mangels in that extras list next winter. For the sake of easy math, I then doubled that ration for the late pregnancy and early milking months, resulting in the feed amounts listed below:


Weekly ration (Oct. - Dec.)
Weekly ration (Jan. - Mar.)
Total ration
Heads of sunflowers
1.2
2.4
43
Carrots (large)
7
14
252
Butternuts (small)
1
2
36
Sweet potatoes (small)
0.5
1
18
Mangels (small)
0.5
1
18


Next, the question becomes, how much space would I need to grow that much feed? Using low-ball figures on yield for each of our 5-foot-by-3-foot beds (better safe than sorry), I came up with:


Yield/bed
# beds
Square feet
Heads of sunflowers
15
2.9
43
Carrots
150
1.7
25
Butternuts
15
2.4
36
Sweet potatoes
15
1.2
18
Mangels
40
0.5
7
Total

8.7
129


Goat manger

That's really not much space at all to provide a goat all of her feed except hay! Of course, by this time next year, Artemesia will be pregnant too, so we'll need to double those numbers. And we might also need to add on some supplemental feed for the summer months, so I'll triple the chart's estimates to be on the safe side. Still, considering that I plant nearly ten times that much area for me and Mark, a few extra beds of butternuts tucked away in a corner shouldn't be too much skin off my teeth, especially since all except the carrots (and possibly mangels) are on my ultra-easy-to-grow list.



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A root veg--oil-seed radish roots? Maybe you really need a hand-cranked chopper?

Comment by adrianne Wed Feb 4 08:34:49 2015
Mom --- Mangels are a kind of over-sized beets used for animal feed. They can grow to over a foot long and provide a lot of feed, but you do have to let the roots mellow for a month before feeding or they'll give your animals diarrhea.
Comment by anna Wed Feb 4 12:37:19 2015
Interesting, and less area than I would have imagined.
Comment by deb Thu Feb 5 07:21:21 2015
You may need more while she's milking. I don't know about goats, but humans use 300 extra calories making the baby, and 500-800 feeding the baby. (Even more so than when I was pregnant, I want to eat everything in sight!)
Comment by Emily Thu Feb 5 23:34:20 2015

deb --- I was surprised by the small area too! Of course, that's just the concentrates --- hay would take more effort (or machinery) and area.

Emily --- Yeah, I was wondering how that would factor into her food needs. On the other hand, if we'd been smart and bred her to kid in March, then she'd be going into that voracious season when rich, new grass was on the ground, which cuts back the need for concentrates a lot.

Comment by anna Fri Feb 6 09:23:29 2015