Just as human mothers are advised to take care with their diets both before and during their pregnancies, so too is it important to ensure correct nutrition for your doe - before conception and during pregnancy and lactation. A rising plane of nutrition, or “flushing”, can help increase conception rates, particularly for does that are underweight, and this simply means that the doe needs to be improving in condition at the time of conception. This can be achieved by supplying her with a better quality forage source, eg. lush spring pasture or quality hay, as well as providing a grain-based concentrate. A commercial goat mix will ensure that the doe is receiving the correct balance of vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in your forage. Alternatively, if choosing to mix your own ration, top dress your grain ration with a mineral supplement so that you are meeting all her nutrient requirements.
Does that are overweight, or those that maintain their weight well, may find that forage alone is sufficient to meet their energy (calorie) needs for pregnancy and only a mineral supplement will be required to counteract any shortfalls within the forage. The pregnant doe does not need vast amounts of concentrate to support foetal development and a maintenance ration is all that is usually required to support your doe until she progresses into the last trimester. However, she will need additional supplementation in the later stages of pregnancy to meet the requirements for the rapidly growing kid/s and to prepare her for lactation. Ideally start to move her from your maintenance diet to a higher protein concentrate at least two weeks before kidding.
Once your doe has had her kid/s, her nutritional requirements will be relatively high as she will need to not only support herself but also to produce enough quality milk to support her kid/s. Forage alone at this stage will not be sufficient to meet her energy needs so a concentrate or grain is likely to be needed. The amount of concentrate /grain required will depend on how many kids your doe has had - naturally her energy and nutrient requirements are going to be higher if she has three kids to support compared to just one! It will also be dependent on the quality and availability of forage – the better the forage, the less reliant she’ll be on grain or concentrate. Not supplying the correct balance of energy and nutrients could reduce her milk production and quality and reduce kid growth rates, as well leading to weight in the doe as she starts to pull on her own reserves to support milk production. Assessing your doe’s requirements is important for her own health and well-being as well as raising healthy kids.
For information and advice on feeding your goats contact, The Fancy Feed Company on 01371 850247 (option 2)