Goats are versatile feeders and will

change their feeding behavior according to forage availability. In this four part

video series, we’ll help you work out your forage budget for goats so that you

can operate in an economically efficient manner with an eye to maximizing

productivity. The first stage of forage budgeting is to estimate and establish

your supply. First part in determining forage supply is to work out how much

pasture is in paddock so we can use simple pasture yield photo standards as

such as the one i’ve got in the hand which has photos that represent

different yields of pasture in the paddock we compare the photos

with what we can see in the paddock and then we can work out roughly how much

pasture we actually have in the paddock that’s fairly easy and quick to do to

get a more accurate figure on how much pastures in the paddock what we would

normally do is cut a couple of quadrants of pasture so we put our quarter square

meter quadrant down cut the pasture that’s in there and put it into our bag

take that back and dry once we’ve dried it we weigh it on a set of kitchen scales

and we work out how much yield there is of pasture and the paddock and

kilograms per hectare and then we use that figure and we walk across the

paddock taking our quadrant with us and drop that down several times and compare

what’s in that in the quadrat as we put it down with the amount that we cut

earlier in the day so that gives us a much more accurate figure of how much

pasture might be in the paddock if you want more detail on how to work out the

pasture component of a forage budget go to the future beef website there’s a

series of four videos there that explains how to do that in lots of

detail well goats have different feeding

mannerisms I guess compared to cattle but to

sheep as well. They have much higher browse rate. While most grazing

animals will consume some browse goats have a preference for it – so we’ll focus

on budgeting for browse. To find out how much browse we have in the paddock we

use the comparative branch technique so firstly we pick a 50 meter transit

representative area we cut a 2 meter long stick and then we walk that transit

counting every branch that is within browse range for goats. So we walked a

transit that was 2 meters wide by 50 meters long which gave us 100 square

meters of transit and in that transit we found 24 branches after we’d determined

that we took our representative branch and then we stripped all the leaves from

that branch and some small twigs and that’s what we thought

the goats would be eating when they’re out in the paddock browsing. We took

that leaf and those small twigs back and we dried those and weighed them and they

came out to be 125 grams dry weight of leaf

so in that 100 square meters we had 24 times 125 grams which works out to be

3,000 grams of dry matter so that’s what we’ve got in our 100 square meters we

need to work that up then to a full hectare so we can work on a hectare

basis and we need to bring that back to kilograms of dry matter per hectare so

we know there’s 10,000 square meters per hectare if we divide that 10,000 by our

hundred square meters that’s in the transit that gives us a figure of 100 so

our 3,000 grams we need to multiply by 100 so 3,000 multiplied by 100

and then we need to divide that by 1,000 to give us kilograms per hectare of dry

matter and so when you multiply that out that gives us 300 kilograms of dry

matter per hectare of forage that’s actually available for the goats to

browse. Now when goats graze in a paddock and they access browse they can

usually access about ninety to a hundred percent of the browse that’s available

on those trees and shrubs as opposed to cattle and sheep who can’t access nearly

as much as goats can. Cattle might actually be able to access

only fifty or sixty percent of the amount of leaf that’s available on

browse trees. Sheep a little bit more perhaps 70% but goats can access about

90% of that browse so what we’re going to do is multiply our three hundred

kilograms by ninety percent and that gives us two hundred and seventy

kilograms per hectare of dry matter is available for the goats to browse so

we’re going to use that figure now and work out how many goats we can run in

our browse paddock and our paddock for the period of time that we need to work

do a dry season forage budget for