Feeding different categories of dairy goats

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Feeding of dairy depend on the different categories determined by physiological status and age  of the animal. Each category is fed according to the need of the animal. 

Feeding for reproduction

The level of feeding will determine the state of animal at maturity, lifetime production, age at maturity and fertility of the animal. Before animals are mated flushing is done. About 0.5 Kg dairy meal is given daily for 2 weeks before mating to improve the body condition. After successful mating adequate feed should be given to avoid embryonic wastage such as abortion.

There are three phases in pregnancy

During the first phase (1 month) the fetus or kid inside does grow undisturbed. There are no much changes in fetus size but feeding is important to keep the fetus in condition. Loss of about 4% body condition can cause problems. Avoid over fattening. Just feed slightly above maintenance.

The second phase (2 – 3 months) is also called mid pregnancy. The fetus changes slightly. At 40 days the fetus is about 6 g. At 90 days fetus is about 15% of its birth weight. At this time the animal can survive under nutrition i.e. the animal can lose up to 5% body weight without any problem. If protein in feed is low, feed intake will be low resulting in protein deficiency. Protein requirements are not high but deficiency can be detrimental to the fetus.

Third Phase (3 – 5 months) or late pregnancy is the most critical stage of the fetus development. At this stage the fetus is developing organs and also increasing in size, gaining 70% of its birth weight about 6 – 8 weeks before birth. Rapid increase impinges on the size of the rumen. Good quality feeding is needed so that though feed intake is low it meets the requirements of the animal. Under nutrition will result in low birth weight, low production of colostrums and reduction in milk production.

Steaming up is done during the last 60 days of pregnancy. This is important for building stores for use in early lactation. Feed up to 400 – 500 g per day of concentrates.

Feeding for Lactation

Protein is required at around 56.1g DCP per day for milk synthesis. Energy is the most sensitive nutrient and is required at 1.25 MCal / Kg of Fat Corrected Milk (FCM).

Minerals especially calcium and phosphorous must be in the ration in large amounts than other minerals. Most diets have enough of vitamins A and D.

Feeding Bucks

Increase feed by 15 – 20% during mating. Start introducing concentrates 6 – 7 weeks before mating at a rate of 200 – 300g per day. The diet should continue up to 6 – 7 weeks post mating.

Feeding Kids

The initial growth rate of kids will be determined by birth weight, level of feed intake of does before parturition and litter size. Any weight below 2.5 Kg or above 5.5 Kg is not good because viability of the kids decreases and deaths increases.

The new born must suck colostrum within 24 hours and should be with the doe and allowed as much as they need. Colostrum feeding should be continued for the next 3 days. Cow colostrums can be used at a 50 ml per BW in fostering. There is no need to continue colostrums feeding after the 5th day.

After 4 – 5 days kids can be raised on milk replacers which should not be more than 18% of total feeds. At one week, kids should be provided with small quantities of fresh clean soft feed.

0-2 weeks – Free suckling by the kids should be allowed for the first two weeks then restricted as follows:.

  • 2-6 weeks suckling twice a day.
  • 12 – 13 weeks - suckling evening only
  • 13 -14 weeks – suckling in the evening, every other day when weaned


This stage is characterized by slowing of growth due to shock. Feed kids at 45 – 60 grams milk DM per body weight (BW) and reduce while introducing other solid feeds gradually with time. If adequate feeding is done early the effect of shock is minimized.

Weaning is based on weight (at 2.5 MBW) and not on age and can be attained in 35 days. This is done between 5 and 6 weeks if the growth requirements of the kids have been met. In poor quality forage weaning may be delayed. Put animals on good quality forages.

Raising kids

For female goats the aim is to attain the earliest age at first mating. 7 to 9 months is ideal. At this time the females should be 60% of their mature weight. This will enable milk production by the age of one year.

Provide concentrates at 300 – 400g per day when they are 3 to 4 months old. At 6 – 7 months of age when mating time is approaching feed at about 100 – 200g per day to trim down over fattening during mating.

Also read A sample ration for dairy goats

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