Thursday, July 9, 2009

Goat feeding behavior

Scandinavian researchers have been studying the feeding behavior of goats in loose housing. The results of their research can provide useful information to goat producers.

In a Swiss study, enriching pens with visual cover (partitions and lying niches) and elevated platforms was shown to positively affect feeding, resting, and agonistic behavior of goats.

Fence line feederIn pens with no enrichment, there were frequent social conflicts among goats due to their strict ranking relationships. These conflicts influenced feeding and resting time among low-ranking members of the group.

Many producers provide enrichment in pens and pastures. This research proves its merit from a production standpoint.

In another Swiss study, researchers determined that horned goats require more feeding space, whereas space requirements in the lying area do not differ between horned and hornless goats. On the other hand, the amount of time goats spend lying down decreases as the lying area is reduced in size.

In a study in Norway, it was shown that when feeding space was reduced for dairy goat does, silage intake was decreased by 16.2 percent. Hay consumption was not reduced by increasing the number of animals per feeding space; however, reduced feeding space decreased feeding time of some individual goats by 80 percent. The researchers concluded that more than one goat per feeding space is ill-advised.

Source: Journal of Applied Animal Behavior