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Goat Nutrition and Performance

Meat Goat Nutrition 101                                                                                                                                       


Cows, sheep, and goats are domesticated ruminants.  Ruminants are an unique set of mammals who possess the ability to upcycle low quality forage into high quality meat, milk, and fiber.  Their ability to efficiently digest forage is possible due to their four-chamber stomach.  The largest of the four chambers is known as the rumen. Within the rumen are billions of bacteria, protazoa, and fungi that synergistically break down fiber and other nutrients enabling the ruminant to obtain both energy and protein from their food sources. Maintaining rumen health and productivity is essential for goat health and performance. For information regarding rumen health and the specific nutrient needs for goats at all stages of production see the nutrition fact sheets below. 


If you are a visual learner check out the Goat Nutrition Boot Camp Video provided by the USDA and Oklahama State Extension team: Goat Boot Camp.  

Rangeland and Irrigated Pasture Management                                                                                                 

California Rangelands
California Rangelands
Rangeland forage quality (i.e. protein, energy, and mineral content) can vary tremendously depending on soil composition, location of range, and time of year. Generally, in California’s Mediterranean climate rainfall occurs during the winter with forage quality highest in the late winter/ early spring. For producers on rangeland matching the nutrients supplied by the rangeland to the nutrient demands of the animal is critical for animal health and performance. For resources on livestock grazing see below.   

In California, irrigated pasture is a common way to provide adequate nutrients to ensure that grass-fed animals are meeting their nutritional needs for maintenance and growth.  For information on how to manage irrigated pasture see the resources below.
To ensure that your rangeland or pastureland is meeting your animals nutritional requirements you can get your forage tested at facility. For a list of California labs certified by the National Forage Testing Association click here

For informative videos on rangeland and pastureland management visit the UCANR Ranching in the Sierra Foothills Youtube channel.

Water Quantity and Quality                                                                                                                                 


Water is a vital nutrient, yet it is often overlooked. On avenge, goats require 1 to 3 gallons of water per day, depending upon diet, intake, and weather. A lactating goat will require an additional 1 quart of water for every 1 pint of milk produced. If a goat is producing 5 pints of milk at peak lactation while raising twins, 2.5 gallons of water are required each day.  Limitation of water intake reduces animal performance quicker and more dramatically than any other nutrient deficiency. Therefore, ensuring that cattle are receiving enough water is essential for maintaining the health and vitality for any goat operation.

When water quality is compromised animals could drink less water, thus negatively affecting their health and performance.  Substances that can contaminate water supplies include, but are not limited to, nitrates, bacteria, organic materials, and suspended solids. These contaminations can cause the water to have an objectionable taste, odor, or color.  To learn more about water quality and how to help ensure water quality on your operation see the water quality fact sheets below.


For California water quality testing see links below.

      ♦ Well Water Testing