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Guide to feeding goats in Malaysia

Key points Feed Intake, Energy Demands, Rumen health

Feed intake capacity Dry matter intake varies from 24%. Two main factors influence the actual intake feed
quality, and the goats level of production.
Average dry matter intake
capacity is 3% of liveweight. Goats cannot eat much of a low quality (less digestible) feed, and so struggle to get enough
energy from the feed for body maintenance. As the feed quality increases, they can eat more
of it, and benefit from the extra energy intake.

Productivity, i.e. growth and reproduction, increases feed intake capacity. A fast growing kid,
or a lactating doe, can eat almost 4% of bodyweight in dry matter.

Quantity of feed offered, and feed intakes measured, should always be expressed in terms of
dry matter, to avoid confusion due to variation among types of feeds used. In planning rations,
offer 3% of bodyweight at first, and then adjust the feeding rate according to actual intake.

Energy requirements The goats energy requirement is expressed in megajoules of Metabolisable Energy. The goat
requires metabolisable energy to maintain its body (MEm), and additional energy to grow
Actual megajoules required
(MEg) or produce milk (MEL).
for maintenance and
production. To maintain a 25kg goat requires 5MJ/day (MEm).

A 25kg goat growing at 50g/day requires an extra 1.4MJ (MEg).

A 25kg goat growing at 200g/day requires an extra 3.4MJ (MEg).

Energy intake Energy requirement should be satisfied within a ration fed to full capacity. If the goat is not
= Dry matter Intake x eating to its full appetite, there is an opportunity to increase its energy intake by offering more
MJ/kg DM of a low cost feed, before feeding expensive supplements. HOWEVER even when offered to
full capacity, a low quality feed can hardly maintain body weight, let alone sustain a profitable
level of production. Energy requirements for production will usually require the inclusion of
some concentrates.

Rumen function The rumen is a large, muscular organ, within which microbes ferment the feed before it
is further digested in the stomach and intestines. Rumen movement is essential to keep
The goat is a ruminant.
contents mixed for efficient fermentation, to allow escape of gases, and for regurgitation of the
cud for further chewing. Cud chewing causes the secretion of saliva, which buffers the acids
produced by fermentation in the rumen.

Physically effective fibre Rumen movement is stimulated by physically effective fibre, and lack of effective fibre results
in poor rumen function, inefficient digestion, and possibly rumen acidosis. A floating mat, or
The ration should support
raft of coarse fibre, provides the material to regurgitate for cud chewing.
rumen function with effective
fibre and balanced nutrients. It is especially important during ration transitions to keep the rumen functioning properly to
avoid acidosis while microbial populations adjust to the new ration ingredients. Fresh green
grass, finely chopped, sometimes is not coarse enough to stimulate good rumen movement
and cud chewing.

For effective microbial activity, a good balance of fermentable energy, protein, vitamins and
minerals is required. A good amount of effective fibre in the ration, permits the inclusion of
other highly fermentable ingredients, to achieve a high energy ration without causing acidosis.

Introducing new goats When imported goats are changed from their dry Australian ration to a local Malaysian
ration, the transition must be managed carefully. Offer the transport ration if available, or ad
libitum dry forage such as rice straw or palm fronds with 50100g/day of a good concentrate
(notPKE alone). Introduce green feed gradually, kg fresh weight per day for 3 days, then
1kg/day for 3 more days, before offering ad libitum green feed. Continue to offer
supplementary dry forage.
Further points Profitable production, Protein requirements, vitamins AND minerals

Profitable production The daily energy requirements for a 25kg goat, growing at 50g/day or 200g/day are shown in
the table below.
High growth rates and
profitable than low
ADG MEm MEg ME total c/day MYR/kg
production, because the
maintenance, or FIXED 50g 5 1.4 6.4 64c 10.80
COST, becomes smaller in 200g 5 3.4 8.4 84c 3.70
proportion to the TOTAL
COST OF PRODUCTION. From these daily energy requirements we can calculate the daily cost of feeding, using CORN
as a standard energy feed, costing 10c/MJ.

Corn has 13.5MJ/kgDM, and costs MYR 1.20/kg (estimated)

1kg corn @ MYR 1.20/kg, and 89%DM = MYR1.35/kgDM

MYR1.35/13.5MJ = MYR 0.1/MJ, or 10c/MJ

Using the daily feed costs, and the growth rate we can calculate the feeding cost to produce
1kg of liveweight gain. It is very clear that the higher growth rate gives a much lower cost of

Protein A good maintenance ration requires 11% Crude Protein (CP), to provide enough protein for
efficient microbial activity in the rumen, to aid in the digestion of low/medium quality forages.
A high production ration requires at least 16% CP for body growth or milk secretion. If it
includes a low/medium quality forage, it will need the addition of a concentrate product with
2030% CP or higher. Small quantities of fishmeal or soyabean meal in the concentrate can lift
the protein content significantly.

Vitamins and minerals The vitamin and mineral requirements of goats are too numerous to list in detail. Vitamins A, D,
and E are required in the feed, while most others are provided by the rumen microbes. Again
it is important therefore that the rumen be functioning effectively. Trace minerals include zinc,
manganese, iron, copper, cobalt, iodine, selenium, and molybdenum. Macrominerals include
calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulphur and chloride.

We know that goats require vitamins and minerals, the more important question is how much
of each is in their diet. The usual approach is to provide a vitamin/trace mineral premix in
the ration, to ensure the presence of sufficient quantities. Macrominerals can be supplied by
the addition of salt (Na, Cl) and limestone (Ca), and if further required di-calcium phosphate
(Ca, P), magnesium oxide (Mg), magnesium sulphate (Mg, S) potassium chloride (K. Cl) etc.
Analysis of the macromineral content of feed ingredients, or referral to existing reference
tables will assist in this decision.

Carbohydrates To enhance microbial activity and efficient rumen function, the ration should contain some
easily fermentable carbohydrates, i.e. sugars and starch. Young growing forages, and good
quality concentrate ingredients (corn, rice bran, cassava) contain sugar and starch, but mature
forages and high fibre agro-industrial by-products are low in fermentable carbohydrates. In
order to better digest low quality ingredients, at least some of the concentrate ingredients
should be high in starch or sugars.

Oils Oils are very high in energy, but are not fermentable in the rumen. Too much oil in the ration
interferes with fibre digestion. Try to limit oils to less than 5% of the total ration, but since
many by-product feeds available are high in oil, sometimes this is impractical and up to 8% in
the ration may be tolerable.
ingredient types

Green forages E.g. napier grass, para grass, leucaena. Green forages are used because they are palatable to the goat
and generally thought to be the cheapest feed resource. This is true if grown efficiently. Usually fed
chopped, to improve intake and minimise wastage. Labour requirement for harvesting and chopping
is a major constraint. Feed value of tropical grasses can rapidly decline if harvested too mature.

Dry forages E.g. rice straw, palm fronds. These can be used as supplementary forage to provide effective
fibre when high quality green feed is used. They can also serve as the only forage base for a high
concentrate feedlot ration. If a concentrate ration is causing acidosis, rice hulls can be included to
provide extra effective fibre.

By-products E.g. palm kernel cake, palm kernel expeller meal, copra meal. These products are generally high in
crude fibre and oil, but are not easily fermentable in the rumen. They can be used to supplement the
forage component of the ration, but should be fed in conjunction with a more fermentable ingredient
(corn, cassava, molasses etc) to assist in their fermentation.

High energy E.g. corn, cassava, sago, rice bran, molasses, sugar, etc. These are high in starch or sugar, which
supplements helps in the fermentation and digestion of other ration components. These are the ingredients which
are most likely to cause acidosis, and must be fed with adequate effective fibre in the ration.

High protein E.g. soyabean meal, fishmeal, meat/bone meal. With a high concentration of quality amino acids,
supplements only small quantities of these ingredients are required to lift the quality of the total ration. Be aware
of market restrictions if using meatmeal or fishmeal, some export meat markets donot permit their
use. A small amount of urea (max 0.5%) can be used to support microbial activity in the rumen. It
must be mixed thoroughly to avoid accidental over-consumption.

Vitamin and minerals E.g. vitamin/trace mineral premix, salt, limestone, dicalcium phosphate, magnesium oxide,
potassium chloride.

Dry CP EE Starch NDF Ca P

Feed Analysis Example feeds ME
matter % % % % % %

Laboratory analysis of Napier grass (mid-growth) 18 9.5 16.3 3.4 1.1 70 0.13 0.3
feeds is recommended, Elephant grass (young) 15 9.8 15.2 5.2 1 60 0.32 0.31
but sometimes it is
Leucaena forage (mature) 30 6.6 26 3 1.5 35.5 0.76 0.22
necessary to rely on
published or unpublished Palm fronds 35 6 4 1.8 1.3 75 0.36 0.11
reference tables. Analytical Rice straw 72 6 6 1.4 0.1 71 0.13 0.15
results and description of
Copra cake 91 11.5 22 12.5 1.4 53 0.1 0.6
feeds can be inconsistent
between laboratories, but Palm kernel expeller meal 91 10.6 16.5 12.5 1.5 65 0.38 0.22
the most common analysis Palm kernel cake 88 7.8 18.2 3 1 77 0.57 0.25
is PROXIMATE ANALYSIS. Corn grain 88 14.3 9.3 4.3 65 11.7 0.02 0.27
Five analyses are made:
Tapioca chips 88 12.3 3 0.9 80 11.7 0.14 0.08
dry matter (%DM), ash
(minerals, % in DM), ether Banana meal 90 10.9 8 1.1 68 17 0.13 0.13
extract (crude fat, % in Wheat bran/pollard 90 11 15 3 23.5 42.5 0.1 1
DM), crude protein (%
Soy hulls 89 10.6 15 4 3.2 60 0.68 0.23
in DM), and crude fibre
(% in DM). The latter 4 Rice bran 91 11 11.1 10.8 23.6 36.9 0.05 1.13
values are subtracted from Molasses 75 12.5 3.5 0.2 0.46 0.02
100% and the remainder
Pineapple waste 11 9 7.5 1.8 1.7 67.1 0.15 0.2
is called nitrogen free
extract (NFE), which Soyabean meal 91.5 14.8 52.1 1.7 2.3 18.3 0.48 0.55
represents sugars, starch Urea 95 0 283
and fermentable fibres. Limestone 98 38
Metabolisable Energy (MJ/
Di calcium phosphate 98 21 18
kgDM) is calculated from
the proximate analysis. Microbio protein powder 95 10.5 50 6 0.74 1.05
Calf milk replacer 95 18 24 20 0 0.9 0.72
Ration worksheet

Inventory of Feed Resources

Ingredient Ingredient DM ME CP% RM/kg RM/kg DM % AS FED

type as fed DM inclusion ration

Green forages

Dry forages


High energy

High protein


Daily Feed Requirements

Strategy: MAINTENANCE ration for ALL goats, at 3% of liveweight
PRODUCTIVE goats on maintenance plus extra concentrate, 0.5% of liveweight

Maintenance ration Dry matter

Forage Concentrate ratio Forage Concentrate

Total goats in group Average liveweight 3% DM intake Forage Concentrate

Total maintenance feed for group (DM) per day

Productive goats in Average liveweight 0.5 % DM intake Extra concentrate


Total extra concentrate for group (DM) per day

Total feed for the group (DM) per day

Dry matter % of forage and concentrate per day

Total feed for the group (AS FED) per day

(Acknowledgement: Dr Steve Sutherland, Ruminant Nutritionist)

Contact: Allister Lugsdin, Manager Livestock Services, Asia Pacific

Ph: +61 2 9463 9148