Research Article| Volume 32, ISSUE 4, P484-494, August 2016

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Nutritional strategies used on dairy goat farms in Ontario


      Ontario’s dairy goat industry has grown in recent years. The objective of the present study was to establish the current nutritional practices on dairy goat farms. A survey was sent out to 216 dairy goat producers in Ontario. Producers were asked questions regarding their general herd structure and mortality, voluntary culling reasons, lactation management, nutrition management, housing and space allowance, goat kid management, and opinions on future research. Nutritional practices varied considerably between farms. The most common feeding systems were complete feed (pellet) with forage and component feed for lactating does, dry does, transition does, and doelings. Alfalfa hay was the most common forage fed with the complete feed system. Most producers (84%) fed their goats pellets or grain at the parlor. Milk production was greatest in the summer months, whereas milk fat and protein levels were greater in the fall and winter months. Colostrum management varied between farms. Most producers (36.1%) did not allow goat kids to spend time with their dam. Few farms pasteurized or tested the quality of the colostrum. There was considerable variability when producers offered grain and starter, hay, and water to goat kids, ranging from younger than 5 d to after weaning. Nutrition and kid rearing were the 2 most common areas identified by producers that require further investigation. Future research is essential in providing the dairy goat industry with the information required to effectively meet the needs of the animal, improve production efficiency, and ultimately help support the growth of the industry.

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