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Goat feed

We've had our goats now for 3 months and are thoroughly enjoying keeping them. They seem happy and healthy, so assume we are providing the right food and conditions for them. However, we've got a few questions about the feed we give them as they get older (they are now about 7 months old), and hope any goat keepers maybe able to offer some advice.

They have free access to a large uncultivated field and hedgerows, which they browse most of the time. We also give them hay/branches when it's wet as they don't like to go foraging in the rain! In addition we have been giving them a small amount (4oz each) of concentrates in the morning and again in the evening. They have access to a mineral lick, but never use it. So my questions are...

We were told to use a Sheep Coarse Mix, but should we get one specifically for goats (I understand they require slightly different minerals hence the mineral lick)?

We have used coarse mixes with/without molasses - what is the advantage of using one with molasses other than less dust and more palatable? Is it doing them any harm having molasses when we are not planning on breeding/milking from them? Is it better for younger goats to get the extra energy from molasses while they are still growing, and then move onto a non-molasses one once they are full size?

We have assumed that next spring/summer we wouldn't have to feed them concentrates as they should be getting all their nutrients from their forage, is this what most goat keepers do?

Sorry for all the questions, but they have started to mount up!

tooth decay ? i dont know owt about goats but a mouthful of sugar or not affects(human)kids teeth

I don't know about molasses but would be inclined to use it in the winter as it is heavy in energy and therefore warmth. There must be a goat keepers book which your local library would get for you with many of the answers to your need to know questions. I don't know where you are, in the UK?, but there may well be a smallholder group locally-see the library again. If you are in Wales then there are goat folks you can contact via the Royal Welsh showground as they have goat shows at the smallholder show in May and main agricultural show in July, so they would know who to contact.
You don't need to apologise for asking questions, it is the best way to learn, and you don't want preventable deaths as part of the learning curve!
Needless to say I know nothing about goats except they are great characters, and lots of fun and good meat.

Goats require more copper than sheep so make sure their lick is copper rich when feeding sheep mix. Most goat feeds I've come across have been high protein dairy mixes. I would have thought for growing stock rolled oats & maybe a little rolled peas or field beans would be ok & cheaper. I expect there are goat grower rations now, but I bet they cost more than the goat's worth.

There is a Facebook group called Goaty Friends which I'd highly recommend. Very helpful people who can provide a (generally educated!) opinion on all things goat related.

Can goats manage without concentrates? Yes, mine do. The milkers get as much chicken seed mix as they can scoff whilst I'm milking but otherwise they eat brush and forage.

I'm told that goats fed brush / branches require less additional shelter in winter, compared with those fed on hay. I've never investigated the truth of that, but it's certainly what they'd prefer to be fed given the option.

Andrea when you say chicken seed mix do you mean whole grain wheat & ? I had a couple of lambs scoff a load & it went through them like a dose of salts.

My chicken mix is a mixed grain with a fairly high proportion of ground corn and a very small amount of pellets in it (sorry, not at home otherwise could look up exact contents).

I've no experience of sheep, but goats can eat pretty much anything provided it is introduced gradually. Perhaps your lambs just had too much too soon? My goats really only get a scoop of it, and just the adults. I scatter the chickens' portion on the ground so the kids can access that but it would only be in very small quantities. I use it instead of corn simply because my rat free strore isn't big enough for two separate sacks!

I've been told to be careful of layers pellets and goats as they contain a poisonous element (to goats), but my feed merchant has no idea what I'm talking about so think it may be a US thing. Anyway, something else to be aware of.

Thanks Very Happy

You can get specific goat mixes for different breeds from different feed manufacturers. At that age they really shouldn't need any concentrates - mine just get a small handful as a way to get their minerals into them. Sheep mix will be too low in copper.

You can get a loose minerals for goats - Caprivite from Goat Nutrition and Premium Goat Balancer from Dennis Brinicombe.

Personally my goats get a 2:1 mix of oats and barley that have been sprouted for 4 days, some Greengold Alfalfa chaff, minerals and the milkers also get Caprotein mix from Goat Nutrition and a sprinkling of linseed meal.
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