Standlee Barn Bulletin

The Standlee Barn Bulletin is your source for insightful articles about premium western forage and beyond.

What Do My Goats Need in Their Diet to Be Healthy?

What Do My Goats Need in Their Diet to Be Healthy?

It seemed like a good idea; let’s get some goats for the children to show, which will, in turn, teach them responsibility. Then reality sets in, and you realize you don’t know that much about feeding and keeping a goat...

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What Do Goats Eat?

What Do Goats Eat?

Some of the most common questions I get about goats is, “What do I feed them?” Many people expect to hear a quick, one-sentence answer. The questions can also come in a variety of renditions. Should I feed alfalfa or...

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3 Nutritional Disorders to Consider When Feeding Goats

3 Nutritional Disorders to Consider When Feeding Goats

Goat ownership has risen over the past several years – people are keeping small groups of goats as pets, milk producers or as companion grazing animals (great at eating poison ivy and other invasive plants). Before purchasing goats, there are...

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Feeding Goats: What you need to know about forages and winter

Feeding Goats: What you need to know about forages and winter

Goats are ruminant animals who eat plants and digest them through a four-compartment stomach. They are more like deer regarding nutrition, than they are to sheep or cattle, which eat a lot of grass.

Goats are well-known for their ability to...

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Is Your Forage Forest Friendly?

Is Your Forage Forest Friendly?

Standlee Certified Noxious Weed Free BadgeStandlee Premium Western Forage® offers several Certified noxious weed free forage options. “Certified” means that a forage product is free of any noxious weeds. A majority...

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        "date": "2020-06-16T08:05:54.3",
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        "title": "What Do My Goats Need in Their Diet to Be Healthy?",
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        "metaDescription": "Feeding goats is not that hard if you understand the basics. Goats, like other livestock, require five essential nutrients: water, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins.",
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It seemed like a good idea; let’s get some goats for the children to show, which will, in turn, teach them responsibility. Then reality sets in, and you realize you don’t know that much about feeding and keeping a goat healthy. The good news is that feeding goats is not that hard if you understand the basics. Goats, like other livestock, require five essential nutrients: water, energy, protein, minerals and vitamins.

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Water is the most essential of these nutrients. Goats can go days with inadequate protein or not enough minerals in their diet, but they can’t survive without water. Since the requirement for water is influenced by physiologic activity such as pregnancy, lactation and growth, the best approach is to provide goats with free-choice access to fresh clean water. Make sure all goats can reach the water source and keep it clean and filled.

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The energy portion of the diet is the same as the calorie content of the diet. Simply stated, if you feed your goat too much energy or too many calories, they get fat, not enough calories and they get thin. Goats get energy from the feeds they eat. Speaking of feed, goats will eat between 3 – 5% of their body weight in dry feed per day. For a 40 pound goat, that is a feed intake of 1.2 pounds to 2 pounds per goat per day. The higher feed intakes are seen in lactating goats and young, growing goats. Pasture grass, plant leaves, grass and alfalfa long-stemmed forage or pellets, and grain are great sources of calories for goats. Since goats are anatomically designed to digest fiber, forages such as pasture, leaves and long-stemmed forage or pellets are always the best starting point for feeding goats. If you have goats with higher energy requirements, such as lactating does and growing goats, grain can be fed to help them satisfy energy needs. Care should be used when selecting and feeding grain since the wrong grain or too much grain can cause serious problems. It is always best to select a grain product specific for goats and to follow feeding directions on the packaging.

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The protein requirements of any goat vary according to the physiologic function of the goat. If the goat is pregnant, lactating or growing, the protein requirements will be higher than for a mature goat at maintenance. High protein ingredients such as fresh, pelleted or long-stemmed alfalfa, or grains such as soybean meal are high in protein and typically fed to goats with higher protein requirements. Grass pasture, long-stemmed grass forage or pellets are fed to goats with lower protein needs.

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Goats require a host of minerals to stay healthy. Of primary importance are salt (sodium and chloride), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, copper and zinc. An easy way to ensure goats are getting the proper amount of minerals is to provide a free-choice, granular mineral source. The granular mineral should consist of 50% trace mineral salt (enriched with magnesium, selenium, copper and zinc) and 50% dicalcium phosphate. These ingredients are available at most feed stores and they provide a simple means of ensuring goats get adequate mineral intake.

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The vitamins most likely to require supplementation into goat diets are vitamin A and vitamin D. All of the B-vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin K are synthesized in the body and, therefore, they are not generally considered dietary essential. If goats have access to fresh green forage or browse, the vitamin A requirement is often satisfied. It is only goats that are eating dry, weather-damaged hay (that is not properly covered or stored) that require supplemental vitamin A. The vitamin D requirements of goats are satisfied if goats have access to sunlight, since vitamin D is synthesized by the sun on the skin surface. If goats are confined in barns, without sunlight, vitamin D supplementation would be necessary.

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So, there you have it. Start by providing your goat with unlimited fresh, clean water. Build the diet around high-quality fiber, such as pasture grass and long-stemmed alfalfa forage or pellets. This will provide most of the calories and protein required in the diet. Remember if you are feeding too much, the goat will become fat and if you are not feeding enough, the goat will become thin. Provide a small amount of grain, according to manufacturer’s guidelines, for lactating, and growing goats. A granular mineral mix consisting of trace mineral salt and dicalcium phosphate will supply the necessary minerals for most goats when offered free-choice. As far as vitamins, vitamin A and D are the most likely to be deficient, but not for goats that get fresh, green forage and access to sunlight.

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If you have questions, please contact the nutritionists at Standlee Premium Western Forage, or consult with your veterinarian.

\n
\n

\n\tBy Dr. Stephen Duren\n\t
Standlee Nutritional Experts - Performance Horse Nutrition\n

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Some of the most common questions I get about goats is, “What do I feed them?” Many people expect to hear a quick, one-sentence answer. The questions can also come in a variety of renditions. Should I feed alfalfa or grass? Should I feed baled hay or hay cubes or hay pellets? Plain grain or goat feed? How much should I feed? But as with so many things goat related, the answer is, “it depends.” A doe (a female goat) in milk needs a much richer diet than a wether (a castrated male goat). And goats on pasture have different needs than goats in confinement.

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What Goats Need Alfalfa Hay?

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Alfalfa is one of the best sources of calcium, which means it’s great for fast-growing, young kids (baby goats), does in the last trimester of pregnancy and does in milk. It is not so good for dry does, bucks (intact male goats) or wethers because they don’t need that much calcium. In fact, calcium binds with zinc, so if a goat is getting more than it needs, they can wind up zinc deficient. Kids are usually about two-thirds grown, somewhere between six months and a year, so at that time, it’s a good idea to transition them over to grass hay rather than alfalfa.

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\n\t\"Goat\n\t
Photo Credit: Deborah Niemann
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What Goats Need Grass Hay?

\n

Quality grass hay is good for all goats, for at least part of their diets. It’s really the only hay that bucks, wethers, and dry does should have, and it can be fed free choice.

\n

Can you feed hay cubes to your goats?

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Hay cubes, which are made for cows and horses, are generally too large for goats to eat. We used to feed cubes as treats for our cows and horses. After we sold them, we had half a bag of cubes left, and I broke the cubes apart into smaller pieces so my goats could eat them. But that’s a lot of work on a regular basis

\n

Can I Feed My Goats Alfalfa or Grass Hay Pellets?

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These are both great options for supplementing a goat’s diet, but they cannot totally take the place of baled hay, pasture and browse. Goats need some long-stemmed hay, every day, to keep their rumen functioning at its best. When goats chew, they produce bicarbonate. Long-stemmed hay, grass and browse make goats chew a lot. Hay pellets are pulverized, so goats really don’t have to chew much at all when they eat pellets.

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Since the pellets look similar to goat feed, a lot of people equate them with grain and think they need to limit the amount their goats eat. As long as your goats are eating some long-stemmed hay, either in the form of pasture, browse or baled hay, they can eat as much as they want of hay pellets. It is simply ground up hay.

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Keep in mind that just as with baled hay, you should only feed alfalfa pellets to milkers, does in late pregnancy and fast-growing kids.

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But What If...?

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How exactly does this look on a real farm? Many years ago, we were unable to get any grass hay for our bucks, so we wound up feeding them alfalfa. After about two months of eating nothing but alfalfa, they all became zinc deficient. One day, they just stopped eating and were foaming at the mouth and had lost large chunks of hair, leaving bald patches on their bodies in the middle of a very cold January in Illinois. I made a panicked trip to the university vet hospital with six bucks in a minivan, thinking they were all going to die, and was told they had zinc deficiency from excess calcium in their diet.

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Today, if I can’t find a good grass hay locally, I buy Standlee Forage Timothy Grass Pellets and feed them as much as they’ll eat. I also give them a flake of alfalfa twice a day that is shared by four or five bucks. That way they have to chew the alfalfa to keep their rumen functioning, but the grass forage pellets reduce the amount of calcium in their diet.

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On the flip side, last year I couldn’t get any good alfalfa hay locally. So, I bought grass hay and Standlee Forage Alfalfa Pellets. I fed my pregnant does and milkers as much as they wanted of the alfalfa pellets and gave them grass hay twice a day through the winter.

\n
\n\t\"Goat\n\t
Photo Credit: Deborah Niemann
\n
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What If My Goat Won’t Eat Hay Pellets?

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Not every goat is excited about the prospect of eating hay pellets when they first are introduced to them. I have two tricks that will win over all but the pickiest of goats. First, remember that goats are competitive. If you offer the pellets when they are alone on the milk stand, they might look at like you’re crazy. But if you put a pan of pellets in the middle of a group of goats, they usually want what the other goats are eating, so they’ll all devour the pellets!

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Second, most goats are grain hogs, which is why I actually started using alfalfa pellets with my does on a regular basis. I’m not the fastest milker when milking by hand. After I had a bucket busting LaMancha wind up with diarrhea from eating too much grain, I realized I had to find something else to feed her on the milk stand as we were milking her. At first, I tried just adding alfalfa crumbs to her bowl, but she could eat those so fast that I was spending way too much time refilling the bowl because they are kind of light and fluffy. So, I started offering alfalfa pellets. I realized that most goats were a bit reluctant to try them if that was the only thing in the bowl, but if I mixed it with their grain, they’d just go for the grain, and the alfalfa pellets would be eaten up at the same time.

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What About Grain or Goat Feed?

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As ruminants, goats do best without any type of grain, and goat feed is primarily grain. However, today’s milk goats have been bred to produce a lot more milk than their ancestors, so most everyone I know who has tried to have grass-fed milk goats has wound up switching back to grain because the goats tend to get unacceptably underweight as their bodies continue to produce a lot of milk. Providing a good quality goat feed is typical for does in milk.

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Some people start to give their pregnant goats a little goat feed towards the end of pregnancy, just to get their rumen adjusted to digesting grain; then after kidding they work up to the recommended amount, which you can usually find in the feeding directions on the bag. Goat feed and grain should never be fed free choice as it can cause digestive issues such as enterotoxemia, bloat, diarrhea and even death.

\n

Bucks and wethers should not be fed any type of grain or goat feed routinely because it can wind up causing urinary stones, which can kill them. Some people are quick to say that if you feed them alfalfa, the calcium will balance the phosphorus in the grain so that you are not as likely to wind up with stones. But what did we already say about all that calcium? It can cause zinc deficiency, so you could wind up trading one problem for another. Bucks and wethers do not need grain, so just don’t give it to them. A handful as a treat once in a while is not a big deal, but it should not be part of their regular diet. It is also not a big deal if you need to feed a little grain if a buck gets underweight during breeding season, but it should be a short-term addition to his diet.

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Sometimes people think they can save money by feeding goats plain corn or oats instead of goat feed, but that is not recommended. Goat feeds are usually about 16% protein whereas corn and oats are half that or less, and the protein is what your milkers need from the goat grain. Plus, goat grains have added vitamins and minerals, which are important to your milkers’ overall health.

\n
\n\t\"Two\n\t
Photo Credit: Deborah Niemann
\n
\n

What About Feeding Goats Sunflower Seeds?

\n

A lot of people hear that black oil sunflower seeds are good for goats, but again, it depends. Research has shown that it increases butterfat in milk, but that’s it. So, there is no reason to feed them to pregnant does, kids, bucks or wethers. And seeds are grains, so bucks and wethers really should not have them.

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Good Nutrition Is the Key to Healthy Goats!

\n

Many years ago, I realized that everything about your goat’s health is centered on good nutrition. If you get that wrong, you have goats getting sick, not producing to their genetic potential and sometimes even dying. If you get the nutrition right, everything else falls into place. You have healthy goats that get pregnant, give birth to healthy kids and produce as much milk as their genes allow. But the best part is that healthy goats mean happy goat owners.

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\n

About The Author

\n\"Deborah\n

Deborah Niemann is the author of Raising Goats Naturally (2018) and Goats Giving Birth (coming 2020). She has been raising goats since 2002 and has more than 100 articles about goats on her website, ThriftyHomesteader.com.

", "urlWithHost": "http://standleeforage.com/standlee-barn-bulletin/what-do-goats-eat", "rating": 0.0, "commentsCount": 0, "trackbacksCount": 0 }, { "id": 659972, "type": "BlogsPosts", "date": "2019-08-13T23:00:00", "author": "", "authorPictureUrl": "/CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg", "trackbackUrl": "http://standleeforage.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=11741&PostID=659972&A=Trackback", "url": "/standlee-barn-bulletin/3-nutritional-disorders-to-consider-when-feeding-goats", "title": "3 Nutritional Disorders to Consider When Feeding Goats", "postFeaturedImage": "/images/blog/feeding_goats.jpg", "metaTitle": "3 Nutritional Disorders to Consider When Feeding Goats", "metaDescription": "Understanding the digestive system and nutritional requirements of goats can keep your herd healthy. Learn more about 3 common nutritional disorders in goats: Thiamine Deficiency, Acidosis, and Urinary Calculi.", "body": "

Goat ownership has risen over the past several years – people are keeping small groups of goats as pets, milk producers or as companion grazing animals (great at eating poison ivy and other invasive plants). Before purchasing goats, there are some basics about their digestion we must understand, as well as several nutritional disorders that can easily be avoided with the correct management.

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Goats are ruminant animals that rely on fiber (hay, pasture, forage pellets, and forage cubes) to provide most of their nutrition. Goats have a digestive system that is filled with billions of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria and protozoa. These microbes ferment plant fiber and produce energy and other useful nutrients that fuel these animals. The digestive system is also home to harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. The delicate balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria can be easily disturbed.

\n

Three common nutritional disorders seen in backyard herds are the following:

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Thiamine Deficiency

\n

High levels of grain in the diet and stress are associated with thiamine deficiency (polioencephalomalacia). Thiamine (vitamin B1) is made by the normal bacteria in the rumen. Kids or does on high carbohydrate diets (sweet feed) may have an upset in normal rumen flora. A change in bacterial types may cause either a deficiency of thiamine or production of an enzyme which inhibits thiamine activity. The animals appear drunk, may not be able to stand, become blind and slowly die. There is often a dramatic response to a large dose of thiamine (5 milligrams per pound), which may need to be repeated. These diseases can be best prevented by increasing the grain level in the diet slowly (if you are adding grain) and maintaining at least 50-percent forage in the diet. Feeding premium quality forage to goats with high nutritional needs instead of high amounts of grain will reduce the risk of this disorder occurring significantly.

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The Merck Veterinarian Manual. (2006). Polioencephalomalacia: Introduction (cerebrocortical necrosis). Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck & Co., Inc

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Acidosis

\n

Acidosis in goats is related to either feeding high levels of grain or a rapid increase in the level of grain in the diet, often coupled with a lack of effective fiber in the diet. Acidosis is associated with the production of high levels of lactic acid in the rumen from a large supply of starch that the animal consumed. Toxins may also be produced by ruminal bacteria that exacerbate the problem. Symptoms include reduced feed intake, panting, diarrhea, reduced cud chewing and kicking at the belly, or other signs of discomfort.

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The key to preventing acidosis is a balanced diet that provides adequate forage. An average goat will eat roughly 3-4% of its bodyweight per day. Therefore, a 100 pound goat will eat about 3 to 4 pounds of total food per day (including forages). As a rough rule of thumb, a 100 pound goat should receive a maximum of 1 to 1.5 pounds of grain or commercial feed per day to help avoid digestive problems.

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Braun, U., Rihs, T., Schefer, U. (1992) Ruminal lactic acidosis in sheep and goats Veterinary Record 130, 343-349.

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Urinary Calculi

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Bucks and wethers are prone to urinary tract blockage due to urinary calculi (stones). The most common type are calcium carbonate and struvite (magnesium phosphate) from high grain diets. The calculi often have the appearance of sand. The male urethra is narrow and long. At the end of the penis is the urethra process. Sand may become blocked anywhere but most frequently is at the urethral process. The incidence of urinary calculi in goats tends to increase in late fall and winter, possibly due to decreased water intake and increased urine concentration. Plenty of fresh, palatable water should always be available. Diets high in potassium should be avoided. Vitamin A requirements should be met by supplying good quality green forage and pasture.

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Nwaokorie EE, Osborne CA, Lulich JP. Risk factors for calcium carbonate urolithiasis in goats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2015;247:293–299.

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The common feeding mistake with all of these disorders is feeding too much grain and not enough fiber. Providing premium quality forage will decrease or eliminate the need for grain and, therefore, decrease the risk of these nutritional disorders. Learn more about the high-quality forage products provided by Standlee at https://standleeforage.com/products.

\n

By Dr. Tania Cubitt\n
Standlee Nutritional Expert

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Goats are ruminant animals who eat plants and digest them through a four-compartment stomach. They are more like deer regarding nutrition, than they are to sheep or cattle, which eat a lot of grass.

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Goats are well-known for their ability to forage on anything from fresh grass to woody shrubs. They are browsers versus grazers (for example, cattle, sheep, and horses are grazing species). For this reason, they are excellent at clearing rough, overgrown land.

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Forage is the main source of nutrients for goats apart from their range. It's what they eat in the winter when they don't have access to grazing ground. Forage can be a grass, or a legume such as alfalfa.

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Each goat needs about two to four pounds of hay per day (3-4% of body weight in pounds), which can be fed free choice or twice a day.

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If good range isn't available, dry grass forage of a horse quality is acceptable. Goats require additional hay, which is roughage, for their rumen to function properly. The long fiber lengths are necessary for this. The rumen is the first stomach compartment (rich in live bacteria) that begins to digest the fiber.

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Alfalfa hay is also popular for feeding goats and has more protein, vitamins, and minerals than grass hays, typically. It can be a good choice for feeding milking goats as it has more protein, energy and calcium.

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Early to mid-winter is a time when does should be in early pregnancy. Begin increasing the nutritional level of a pregnant doe's diet about six weeks before kidding, so that by the time kidding occurs, she is at the level of nutrition that she needs for lactation. When lactation starts, the protein requirement of a goat more than doubles. Just feeding a grain to help with energy is not enough. Milk formation requires protein. Alfalfa is the only hay with enough protein to meet the needs of a lactating doe. However, the producer must carefully and slowly increase the protein intake of a pregnant doe, gradually adding appropriate feed to her diet as her pregnancy progresses. A sudden change in any type or amount of feed can lead to host of problems.

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Apart from nutrition, the other benefits of feeding plenty of good quality forage to goats is it will keep them warm. This is important as goats have thinner skin and do not develop thick coats. A byproduct of bacterial fermentation in the rumen is heat, so feeding your animals plenty of forage will keep them warm from the inside out.

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A good rule is to not make drastic changes to the diets of your goats. Slowly introduce new hays or feed to avoid a major digestive upset for them. Change their diets slowly, giving the bacteria in their rumen (their first stomach, which is made for the initial step in the digestion of the plants they eat) time to adjust.

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\"StandleeStandlee Premium Western Forage® offers several Certified noxious weed free forage options. “Certified” means that a forage product\n is free of any noxious weeds. A majority of Certified noxious weed free forage programs are based on weed free forage standards set by the North American\n Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA). NAISMA provides a list of noxious weeds found in North America, and many states start with that list\n and add other noxious weeds found in their states as qualifying factors. Many states accept these minimum standards.

\n

The benefit to you is that Certified forage products can be fed in protected National lands without the risk of spreading unwanted noxious weeds, which\n squeeze out other naturally occurring vegetation. Certified Noxious Weed Free products are required by Federal and State authorities in protected areas.\n Each state's requirement on Noxious Weed Free Forage differs, so please check with your state's Department of Agriculture for specific details.

\n

Click here to learn more about the certification process.

\n
\n

Certified Noxious Weed Free Standlee Products:

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