Dr. Meg Smart’s first introduction to goats came shortly after her family moved from the city to the country. Her mother was allergic to cow’s milk, so their first farm animal was a pregnant Toggenburg that eight-year-old Meg affectionately named Nanny. With daily responsibilities of caring for and milking Nanny, Meg grew to love not only Nanny, but the many goats that followed. In the guide Goat Production Manual, Second Edition, Dr. Smart leads others through her experiences as a veterinarian and as a producer interested in small ruminants. Dr. Smart presents concepts that, coupled with hands-on experience, allow goat owners and novice producers an opportunity to expand their knowledge base and improve goat management skills. While offering a basic understanding of goat production, nutrition, diseases, simple ration formulations, a guide to clinical examination, and routine procedures and treatments every goat owner should know, Dr. Smart includes entertaining anecdotes from Truth and Tales from Good Old Uncle Roy by Dr. Roy Crawford. Goat Production Manual, Second Edition offers practical and natural methods that will not only save goat owners both time and money, but also bring peace of mind.
B. MAINTAINING A HEALTHY RUMEN ENVIRONMENT Goats are energetic, inquisitive, and versatile when it comes to food. Goats can survive in a wide range of environments. Their diet consists of a diverse range of feeds. They are anatomically agile (stand on hind legs) and have a highly mobile upper lip. For pastured goats, the browse comprises the major portion of their diet, especially when pastures are mature. Goats are highly selective and eat only plant parts that are palatable to them The rumen contains billions of micro organisms (bacteria, protozoa, and fungi) that work together to break down cellulose in forages to provide nutrients for their own growth. By products from their digestion are utilized by the goat. When the micro organisms pass into the small intestines they are digested and provide nutrients (protein, energy, and minerals) to the host. A balanced rumen environment is critical to the health of the goat. Any alteration in the rumen environment can impact on her health and productivity. When a goat is in a fully alert state she will not ruminate. Rumination (cud chewing) is elicited by light, so cud chewing may be decreased in the winter in a dark barn with minimal light. More light at timed intervals may help production. F. BASIC FEEDING GUIDELINES The following sections of the manual are designed to help you evaluate and formulate economical rations. The two most common nutritional problems are under and over nutrition. Nutrition is not an exact science. When I investigate a nutritional problem, the solution can be simple or very complex. The body is tolerant of short term nutritional abuse. Nutritional problems can have a long term negative impact on your operation and its profitability. Unless you are involved in this venture for fun (you are a lottery winner or independently wealthy), pay close attention to changes in body condition as it reflects the health and nutrition of your goats Clinical symptoms occur if the abuse is long term, extreme or at a critical production stage. The response of the body varies according to the stressors that influence the nutrient requirements. There are two key components critical in the formulation of an economical ration to optimize production: • An accurate feed analysis • A minimum of one accurate weigh scale. If you measure feedstuffs in tobacco tins or handfuls you don't have to abandon these methods of your forebears, just measure the weight of the contents. 1. Pregnancy and the Dry Period
Dr. Marion Smart, DVM, PhD, graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and earned her PhD in beef cattle nutrition from the College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. For more than forty years, Dr. Smart has held faculty positions at OVC and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.