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Nutrition for the High Producing Dairy Doe

S. P. Hart

E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK. 73050.

Before milk can be processed, it has to be produced by the animal and nutrients are a major input both in quantity and cost for milk production. The lactating animal is efficient at mitigating most, but not all, of the effects of widely differing diets on milk quality. The NRC report on Nutrient Requirements of Goats was published nearly 20 years ago; hence, a considerable body of research remains to be considered in nutrition recommendations for goats. The greatest limitation in knowledge of feeding goats is an inability to predict intake. The concentration of nutrients required in the diet is affected by intake level. Dairy goats often consume 6% of their body weight as DM and may exceed 8%. Due to the high levels of intake, the minimum dietary CP concentration may be lower than for dairy cattle. Several studies have shown the efficacy of bypass fat sources for increasing energy intake and milk production in dairy goats. Three studies have failed to demonstrate effects of bypass protein on milk production of goats, in contrast to well-documented improvements with dairy cows. Limited evidence indicates that goats have a faster rate of passage of digesta which would increase ruminal escape of protein and ruminal microbial protein production, thereby mitigating protein as a limiting nutrient. Very little work has been done on the utilization of feed byproducts in goat diets. The use of a negative ion balance in the diet for prevention of milk fever has not been studied in goats. Beyond calcium and phosphorus requirements, there has been little mineral research with goats. Overall, our limits in knowledge of goat nutrition force us to extrapolate from other species, which may and may not be appropriate and to rely on anecdotal information. A current project to develop nutrient requirement expressions from recent goat research may improve our ability to feed goats and help identify critical research needs, which is quite important due to limited support for goat research.


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