We desire to follow a traditional, non-industrialized, diet for ourselves. We also desire that our animals follow a traditional diet. And this not only for their own health, but to support our health when consuming the meat, eggs, or milk they provide. As the proud owners of (so far) two Nubian milking does, two Nubian doelings, and eight Nigerian Dwarf goats, we are hard at work to figure out what we should feed our goats so that they are healthy and the milk they produce is of the highest quality.
Browsing around on the web, I've yet to find any information on the goat's traditional diet. But I did find something in “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable” by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Her work is based on the premise that if domestic animals are allowed to eat their natural diet in a natural environment, they will be healthy and free of modern animal diseases (such as scrapie and mad cow). She includes herbal remedies for common diseases such as those affecting the digestive system or mucous membranes. She writes,
“My book teaches natural care of animals and totally shuns their exploitation (wherein they are treated as machines, instead of as living, sensitive and loving creatures). This book wholly condemns the force-feeding of unnatural foods to any creatures. If a diet is unnatural, disease will keep company with those subjected to it: that is a fixed law. … The Bible tells of God's instructions to Noah, that the preferred and natural foods of every creature were to be taken into the Ark for their nourishment. And to this day, animals fed on natural foods do not develop those horrible (almost satanic) ailments being reported in journals, on radio and television.”
According to Ms. Levy, who consulted old farming manuals, the natural diet of goats includes:
- Abundant sweet water
- Iodine-rich foods
- Foods rich in aromatic oils
- Rock salt, especially in hot climates
- Leafy and woody food, other than grasses – woodland grazing
- Oats planted along with vetches
- Barley (the goat cereal)
- Sunflower – the whole plant and the seed heads
- Corn, including the inner cobs
- Flaked barley and rolled oats
- Wheat bran
- Dried beet pulp
- In the winter: silage (fodder harvested while green and kept succulent by partial fermentation as in a silo) prepared with molasses (a nutritious change from dry hay)
With regard to our strategy for feeding our goats, I would like to compile my own milk-supporting grain mix (maybe even someday being able to grow the food on our own property). I have sources for organic barley, organic rolled oats, and organic alfalfa (dried as hay). I would like to find organic sunflower seeds and organic corn. The corn should definitely be organic, otherwise it is likely GMO. We use kelp for the minerals. Our ultimate goal is to plant as many of the recommended foods as we can around our partially-wooded property (as well as many of the health-supporting and illness-curing herbs Ms. Levy recommends). We already have many browse-type non-grass weeds that are dearly loved by the goats, as well as woody food. Over the course of time, we will pay attention to milk production and the health of our animals and make revisions as needed.
What I haven't found out is how much of each of the recommended foods is a good daily ration. Do you know of any traditional animal diet resources that offer information on the natural diet of animals and specific ration amounts of the recommended foods? Also, do you know any information about making/purchasing silage?
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