December 2014 Issue

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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

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PROTEIN
What Happens When You Feed Too Much

The most difficult part of raising meat goats in any managed herd is getting nutrition right. People either overfeed or underfeed; fewer folks get the amounts correct. Unless you put your goats on pasture in the winter and round up those that survived to spring, you have a "managed" herd. Most of us have managed herds.

Show goat producers and pet goat raisers tend to overfeed. Slaughter-goat folks struggle to feed as little as possible and oftentimes border on trying to starve the profit out of goat. This doesn't work in a species that has a fast metabolism and requires quality nutrients.

Most goat ranchers understand that overfeeding can result in serious illnesses like ruminal acidosis and laminitis-founder. I have articles on each of these topics on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

Too much protein can also result in a reduction in weight gain. When a goat is fed a protein level higher than its body requires, then energy that is used to produce muscle instead must be utilized to remove excess protein. The result can be a reduced rate of gain and higher feed costs to the producer.

The process of removing excess protein from the body via urine is this: Micro-organisms reduce protein to ammonia molecules and then remake them into amino acids that make up protein chains. Ammonia molecules that are not utilized by the micro-organisms are absorbed through the wall of the rumen and circulate in the blood stream. Because ammonia build-up in the kidneys can be toxic, these molecules must be converted from ammonia to urea. Urea is then execreted from the kidneys in the form of urine. The process of changing from ammonia to urea to urine is the energy cost of having excess protein in the goat's diet. A little excess protein can be tolerated. A high level of excess protein has both an energy cost and a monetary cost because protein is usually the most expensive nutrient in livestock feed.

How much is too much protein? That's a difficult question. All I can do is tell you what I feed (and what I would not feed). I feed a 16% protein pelleted goat feed that has a 2-1/2 to 1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio that was formulated specifically for my goats. There are many other things in this ration that are equally important; protein isn't the only consideration when buying a feed ration. Personally I see no reason ever to feed more than 16% protein to a meat goat, and I think you are treading on dangerous nutritional grounds if you do. I also feed this ration only one time per day; there are many of you feeding sacked feed twice a day and I disagree with that approach, unless the goat is nursing three or more kids.

SUMMARY : A feed that is higher in protein than the goat needs results in an expenditure of ENERGY by the goat's body to eliminate excess protein that would otherwise have been used to produce muscles.

My thanks to Kent Mills, Livestock Nutritionist with HiPro Feeds, for his assistance in producing this article.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 12/16/14


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