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How much to grow to feed goats, year two

Goat eating honeysuckle

While planning out our own garden year, it's also time to take stock of how our goat-fodder garden worked out over the last twelve months. You can see my number-crunching preparatory post here, and this is what we actually planted for our two spoiled darlings:

Crop
Square footage for goats
Conclusions
Butternut Squash
135
We'll probably run out in early March. This is the goat favorite and the seeds are natural dewormers, so I'm glad I grew far more than I planned to!
Carrots
60
We ran out in January --- not bad since I planned on feeding concentrates to a single goat and ended up feeding two. (I'm currently feeding Abigail to help her regain weight after drying off and Artemesia to keep on her weight since she's hopefully pregnant.)
Mangels
15
Our goats didn't really eat these without lots of begging and pleading, so I composted most of the fodder beets and won't grow them again.
Sweet potatoes
45
I planted these in a bad spot and didn't get a high yield. We've mostly been saving the crop for human consumption since they're one of Mom's favorites, but our goats like what I've given them too.
Sunflowers
75
For some reason, almost none of my sunflowers came up in 2015. I know from past experience that our goats love them, though, so I'll do better next year.
Field corn
60
I grew this mostly for leaf-matter production since I'm dubious about feeding grain to ruminants. The goats loved eating the corn when I let them have it, but they refused field-corn stalks and leaves in favor of sweet-corn stalks and leaves. I won't grow field corn again for our spoiled darlings.
Sorghum
15
Our goats love sorghum stalks and leaves and the plants are easy to grow...but I got spooked when I realized the food could potentially poison our girls if eaten after a drought or freeze. Nothing bad happened, but I'm on the fence about growing it again.


Goat breakfast

So, focusing just on goat-approved crops that did well for us, a plan for one goat might consist of:

Crop
Square footage for goats
Butternut Squash
80
Carrots
45
Sweet potatoes
45
Sunflowers
75


Goat in the weeds

Of course, that's just concentrates above and beyond the hay/wild-grazing ration. In addition, I'll admit that we also feed our goats about a pint apiece of alfalfa pellets per day and we splurge on fancy kelp for minerals too. But the plan above is a good start on a healthy goat diet that will keep total feed costs for a herd of two goats about even with the cost for a flock of ten chickens --- not bad.



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High quality feeding translates into lower or no vet bills later! I'm not feeding goats, but household dogs, but consistently feeding an organic diet of human-grade hamburger, organic quinoa, vegetables, apples, pressure-cooked chicken feet, plus Dinovite (organic canine supplement), my 14-year old lab mix and 7-year old corgi mix are in robust health. Just had full vet work-up on both (mainly to verify my feeding program) and both sailed through with perfect values for blood, urine, fecal and physical exam. My vet is a Traditional Chinese Vet Med practice so no unnecessary vaccinations or prescription drugs either. This feeding regime works out to about $1/day per dog, but golly, are they happy and healthy! So it is worth the extra effort/expense to feed your animals well.
Comment by Lucy Sat Feb 20 08:28:44 2016
From what I recall about mangel beets is that they were a common livestock feed years ago but the farmer had to grind them up and mix them with other feed to make them palatable to their animals. There must be some nutrition that they were targeting by using them but as you found out, the beets must not be very palatable to them. Grinding up beets sounds like too much work to me, especially when we can get trace minerals from other sources.
Comment by David Wed Feb 24 10:24:37 2016

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime