Feeding pygmy goats may not differ a lot from feeding ordinary goats. They can be fed with grass, hay and grains. Before going into detail on what to feed your pygmy goat, it is important to first know a little about their digestive system.
Goats are Ruminant
One thing to remember about your pygmy goat is that they are ruminant kind of animals. This means that they have different compartments in their digestive system that allow them to regurgitate food long after being swallowed. The stomachs of a pygmy goat have four special compartments namely rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. These stomach compartments are not present in humans and other non-ruminant animals. When they eat hay or grass, they will store it in the rumen after chewing. The rumen contains an abundance of microorganism that causes the chewed food to ferment. A newborn kid will take 8 to 10 weeks before their rumen becomes fully developed and functional. Until then, all food goes to abomasums, which is the equivalent of a stomach to humans.
Pygmy goats are very active creatures. They like to run around and even hop on tables and small cars. With that said, they need a lot of energy-boosting food source. These include carbohydrates, sugars, fats, and starches. The higher the calorie, the higher the stored energy. Grains have high carbohydrate contain and also content less fat.
Ideally, they should be kept in an open but secured area so they can graze. Aside from hay, they like to eat forages which can be grasses, browse or forbs. Forbs can be wild lettuce and dandelions. Browse includes blackberry, oak, vines, and bushes. Unlike cattle, a pygmy goat actually likes browse and forbs more than grasses.
Young Goats and Pregnant Does
A male goat is called a buck and its female counterpart is called a doe. The nutritional needs of pregnant does and young goats may differ from an ordinary adult goat. Young goats and pregnant pygmy do will need more food in addition to their staple meals. They will need foods that are not usually found in an ordinary pasture. Food sources such as barley, oats, corn and milo are excellent energy sources. When choosing grains, opt for rolled grains rather than ground grains because they find rolled grains more tasty and palatable, regardless of their age or gender. Rolled grains are also easier for a young goat. If you give a young goat rolled grains, it will learn to consume grains much faster in contrast to giving it whole grains. As an owner, you do not need to grind grains and seeds because goats are fond of chewing.
Young goats are still growing. Therefore, it is crucial to provide them and their mother adequate protein sources. Their mother’s milk is the kid’s first source of nutrients. Feed the mother with high-protein sources like alfalfa, soybean or soy-based feeds, and clover hay. If you are worried about the daily amino acid intake of the pygmy kids, remember that the rumen is crowded with god microorganisms that can make convert non-protein sources into amino acids. Aside from protein, carbohydrates are a key component. This is sourced primarily from rolled and whole grains.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Among all the essential vitamins provided by the usual pasture food sources, vitamin A and D stand out when it comes to importance. Vitamin A is crucial for the repair and maintenance of the inner lining of the organs. With that said, Vitamin A is needed by growing kids. Any natural source containing yellow pigments are high in carotene which is then converted by the goat’s body to vitamin A. Yellow corn is an excellent source of carotene.
Vitamin D assists in the incorporation of calcium and phosphorous into bones. Just like in humans, vitamin D is naturally produced when they are exposed to the sun. According to the National Pygmy Goat Association, vitamin D should be supplemented to bucks and does that receive very little sun exposure. Some hays are sun cured. These are also good sources of vitamin D.
As for the minerals, calcium and phosphorous are the basics. Make sure that your goat is getting enough calcium and phosphorous by feeding it grains and alfalfa. These two food sources are surefire ways to provide your goat with enough calcium and phosphorous. Pregnant and lactating does should be provided with higher calcium and phosphorous intake. They need to consume and expend so fast that inadequate amounts of calcium can cause lactating does to suffer from hypocalcemia and die easily in just 1 or two days. So in order to prevent this, you need to provide them with an additional source of calcium and phosphorous other than grains and alfalfa hay. You can feed your pygmy goat a mixture composed of iodized salt, finely ground (but not powdered) limestone and steamed bones.
Take note, however, that you can’t just haphazardly provide calcium and vitamin D. They must be in proportion to one another. Avoid thinking that you can compensate with the low calcium intake by providing your goat with lots of phosphorous and vitamin D. Abnormally and proportionally high amounts of calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous will upset the natural balance of these minerals in the goat’s system.
Iodine and selenium are also important. Iodine is provided by iodized salt in the aforementioned ground limestone mix. Selenium prevents a serious condition called white muscle disease where the skeletal muscles and the heart calcify. If you have a pygmy goat suffering from white muscle disease, selenium shots are the best option. The dosage will vary on the age and size of the goat. Selenium is highly toxic so follow the exact amount when attempting to give your goat selenium shots.
Pygmy goats are very choosy when it comes to water. It has to be clean and fresh otherwise they will not drink from it. Replace their water source at least once a day and once it becomes murky and dirty. Water is important to keep them hydrated and to transport the nutrients faster in their bodies.