Goats are great! Nubian goats especially are sweeties. If raised well, Nubians can become much like your canine friends. They certainly are about the same size as a large dog and walk well on leash when trained. Some even can be trained to pull carts. But when it comes to eating, if you are counting on them to be the pasture grazers that sheep are you may be kind of disappointed. They won’t become four-legged lawnmowers. They will graze, but they absolutely love weeds and shrubbery the most. To them weeds and shrubbery are kind of like their chocolate. But will they eat your metal lawn furniture, your laundry or any of the other things that they’ve been portrayed to eat? No.
Dairy goats are actually kind of finicky eaters. They will graze on pasture but they prefer pasture that has weeds and shrubbery in it. But there are a number of things that they won’t touch, much the same as some people don’t like certain foods. Yes, it really is true. There are some things that a goat won’t eat. One may like dandelion greens and another wouldn’t touch them even if you dipped them in chocolate. Okay, not sure if they like chocolate (that was just a for instance) but I wouldn’t recommend you try feeding chocolate to your goats to find out. They do however like to lip everything. So they may lip or taste anything and everything but that’s not eating that’s just regular goat curiosity. You’d know if you’ve ever gone out in the pasture with a coat with cords or a pair of boots with cords. They play with it with their mouth and nibble at it; but it’s just curiosity.
Will they eat some things that they shouldn’t; things that could make them sick? Yes! That’s why it’s so important to know what’s in your pasture because there are some things that they’ll eat that could make them very sick or even kill them. For instance, potatoes can make them really sick; leaves or tubers. There are also a lot of flowers that will kill them if they ingest them. So for many, turning their dairy goats loose on their lawn may not be an option, due to what they have planted for flowers in random locations. Believe it or not you can get a list through your local agricultural department of what, in your specific area, is harmful for goats to eat. This will allow you to more easily evaluate your pasture area to make sure that there are no potential problems in it.
By the same token, there are some plants that are beneficial to them and some that will damage the taste of their milk. There are even some natural plants that will help them to dry up more easily; whether you need them to stop for health reasons or it’s just time to stop milking. So take the time to do your research. Learn what plants in your area are bad, good or a nuisance and what can be helpful to your dairy goats. It will pay off in the long run.
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