Establishing mixed-plant communities as pastures
If given a choice, the daily ration of a goat is made up of 20% grasses, 20% “weeds” (many are forbs of very high quality) and 60% browse. Thus, plant diversity needs to be optimized to provide goats the forage quality and quantity necessary to meet their nutritional requirements. One approach is to plant a community of high quality perennial forages (a mix of grass, legume and forb such as orchardgrass or tall fescue with plantain, chicory, perennial sericea lespedeza and birdsfoot trefoil). Plant species selection is important as different nutrients (amino acids, fiber and sugars, minerals and vitamins) can be optimized when goats have access to a wider array of plants, and thus will be better able to mount an effective immune response when necessary. In addition, chemicals in certain plants such as condensed tannins have an effect on internal parasites. Goats should also have access to brush and shrubs during the hot and humid periods of the summer. Keep goats on browse as long as possible as the higher the goat grazes/browses, the lower the level of internal parasites will be. In addition, a browse or woodlot area will provide much needed shade during the summer months.
Luginbuhl, J-M. 2006. Pastures for Meat Goats. In: Meat Goat Production Handbook, ed. T.A. Gipson, R.C. Merkel, K. Williams, and T. Sahlu, Langston University, ISBN 1-880667-04-5.