- Food Self-Sufficiency & Animals
- More Thoughts on Growing Animal Feeds
- Calculating Protein with the Pearson Square
- DIY Vitamins & Minerals For Goats
- Tweaking The Goat Minerals
- Feeding My Goats: Thoughts, Research, & Changes
For the goats, one of the things I have learned is the importance of good quality hay. They are ruminants and this should be the primary staple of their diet. Also important are meeting nutritional requirements, especially protein and vitamins and minerals. Most of my concern and research has focused on that. For us, that means things I can grow and harvest pretty much year around, such as greens and root crops; also stored vegetables such as sweet potatoes and winter squashes. Greens and herbs can be dried and top dressed. Grains can be fed whole plant as hay. I can grow additional protein as cow peas, flax seeds, or sunflower seeds and feed with pods, shells, and all.
Something else that's important but not discussed much is energy. This is usually fed in the form of grain, but if you have read (or do read) those posts you'll understand why I feed only limited grain. Folks are usually concerned about protein and minerals (I am too) so most questions and discussions on the internet focus on these things. But I've been concerned about bulk (tummy filler) for the milking stand or times of year when forage is slim. These could be classified as energy foods and because goats are ruminants, should be largely cellulose based such as stalks (corn, sorghum, and/or amaranth) and corn cobs. No, that's not as terrible as it sounds because they use things like this in pelleted animal feeds, although on feed bags you'll see them listed as plant products and roughage products.
What we've needed is a way to process these items into a size the goats can manage. We've discussed this a lot and can finally show you our first experiment in DIY goat feed!
|Prototype goat chow maker|
We bought the Yard Machine about six years ago. As a chipper / shredder it was pretty disappointing, because it scattered pulverized mulch all over the place, like way across the yard. As a piece of junk to clutter up the carport it did great, and we often pondered what to do with it. We would crank it up every now and then, but it could only handle small sticks and leaves so it was only semi-useful. We usually end up renting one of these once a year to take care of our huge stick and branch piles and make wood chip mulch.
With PVC pipe, rain gutter parts, duct tape, and a 30 gallon lidded drum, we've got the beginnings of a feed chopper.
Not as consistent as we hoped but not bad for a start.
|Chopped and shredded corn cobs and amaranth stalks.|
What did the goats think? Read on.
I took a couple handfuls of the finer stuff and mixed it in with the evening feed ration for the girls at milking time. Daphne ate it all and Helen left only the largest chunks of corn cob. I'd call that the beginnings of success. My plan is to eventually mix this with dried and fresh herbs, greens, cowpeas, amaranth grain, and produce to make up the ration. To check nutritional content, I will have the mix tested by our cooperative extension office.
The stalks were still somewhat green and we think the chopper may do a better job once they are completely dry. That means more experimenting later on. In the meantime, Dan is thinking of ways to tweak it, while I'm just happy for a big step forward in our quest for self-sufficiency.