Going into Goats: A practical guide to producing goats in the rangelands

Water, nutrition and shelter

Water

It is important to ensure that all holding facilities have access to a sufficient supply of clean, good quality water. The amount of water consumed by goats varies depending on the physiological state of the goat, the type of feed and the weather conditions. The free supply of water is important in reducing stress and maintaining the goats in the best possible condition in confinement.

Nutrition and feed

Despite rumours to the contrary, goats do not eat everything nor thrive on low value feed. As generalist herbivores, they do however, have a broad diet with a high browse component and will therefore maintain their condition when more palatable species are depleted by adjusting their diet. This is largely why goats remain fat when sheep start slipping under the same circumstances when the season goes off.

Supplementation

It is generally not required nor economically viable to supplement goats in their natural environment. The diverse nature of a goat’s diet generally means that they source what they need from the available feed.

As with all ruminants, goats require roughage in their diet. When confined and fed therefore, it is important that dietary changes be introduced gradually and that this includes a fibre or roughage component. Further information is available in Module 7: Nutrition of the GiG Guide.

      
Left: Improvised feed trough fashioned from a hollow log
Right: Supplementing roughage in a holding yard environment

Shelter and shade

Left to their own devices, goats will seek out shade and shelter as required. Due to their low body fat, goats do suffer in inclement weather unless they are able to gain some protection from the elements, such as in amongst shrubs or around rocky outcrops.

When confining or yarding goats, it is important that shade and shelter be provided. Shade in yards benefits both the goats and the handlers and shelter in a goat paddock allows goats to seek refuge as required.