Expert knowledge. Expert opinion.
Expert formulas.

A summer browse

Growing interest in goats and increasing feed options through the NRM feed range have justified the development of the NRM Goat Nutrition Guide which is now available online at www.nrm.co.nz/lifestyle.

Unashamedly detailed, the guide has been written with both commercial and lifestyle goat keeping in mind. This excellent reference material can be read cover to cover or dipped into using the index when seeking answers to specific challenges.

When aiming to keep stock healthy and productive it is important to understand the nature of the beast. Evolving as browsers rather than grazers has equipped these endearing ruminants with enviable climbing skills but has also not exposed them to the intestinal worm burden that predominantly live in the base of the pasture sward. They have therefore not developed the same resistance to intestinal parasites cattle and sheep have had to deal with. Instead they developed ways to cope with tannins found in the leaves of bushes and trees that are less favoured by graziers. Unfortunately, that has equipped them with a suppedup liver which seems pretty good at reducing the efficiency of some worm drenches. Rotationally grazing high quality pasture is therefore less suitable for goats despite nutritionally ticking many of the boxes for milking goats which are extremely efficient milk producers that need both energy and protein. Conserved forages — often cut at greater maturity than grazed forages — and cut and cart systems which limit exposure to worm eggs are therefore more popular with NZ dairy goat producers than dairy cow farmers. Balancing such forages with high energy grains, legumes and by-products makes sense because by themselves they struggle to meet the needs of animals that have been selected for milk production.

As feed manufacturers we are conscious that farmers must meet the needs of the consumers. The commercial goat industry in NZ was one of the first to specify that supplementary feeds must be non-genetically modified (GM) to meet the needs of premium export markets. Local producers may also prefer to avoid GM feed ingredients, so NRM developed a compound feed range formulated from non-GM ingredients which focus on NZ grown non-GM grains, pulses and by-products. NRM Dairy Goat Pellets have been specially designed with 18% crude protein to help meet the needs of milking goats consuming a portion of their diet as conserved forages which inevitably lack protein for lactating animals. Where
less protein is required, NRM Deer Elite Nuts with 16% crude protein and NRM Performance Nuts with 12% crude protein can be considered when non- GM lower protein options are preferred. Enriched with major minerals, trace minerals and vitamins, they have been formulated to support health and performance in animals that could be consuming forages with variable and often performance-limiting levels of essential minerals and vitamins.

For the commercial producer with a mixer wagon or in-shed feeding system there are a range of by-products that can be purchased singly or in blends. Feeding ruminants by-products from the human food industry is a great way to upgrade vegetable protein into animal protein and increasing production per animal is often seen as a good option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per kg milk or meat produced. As methane reducing additives are developed, supplementary feed will also provide a good delivery route to the animal.

Feedback on the NRM Goat Nutrition Guide is welcomed. The online digital format provides greater opportunity to edit the content to reflect the needs of the readers.

Article supplied by Dr Rob Derrick,Head of Nutrition and Animal Health.