Homemade Grain Ration

This is the mix I’ve used for my milking does for at least a decade. I separate each component and feed it in separate feeders to rabbits and chickens. It’s a versatile combination of grains that can be used for just about every type of livestock I’ve raised. It is also locally readily available so I buy each grain by the ton, allowing for maximum cost savings but requiring organization of ample storage space.

The mix is simple:

  • 2 parts whole barley
  • 2 parts whole oats
  • 1 part field peas

These are available online at sources like Azure Standard or New Country Organics, but if you can find local sources you’ll save a lot of money.

Now let’s calculate the total protein percent of the ration.  First, we’ll use feedipedia.org data to find the crude protein percent of each component.

My recipe is in parts, but for ease of translation, let’s assume each part is one pound.  To calculate the overall protein, we add up the protein percentage for each pound in the ration.  Since there are two pounds each of barley and oats, we would add up two barleys and two oats, so it would look like this:

12% + 12% + 11% + 11% + 24% = 70.  Then we would divide that by the total pounds in our ration, which would be five for this example: 70/5 = 14, so the protein % of this ration is 14.  If we needed more protein, we could increase the peas to an equal part.  The math would then look like this:

12% + 12% + 11% + 11% + 24% + 24% = 94.  94/6 = 16%.

Keep in mind when determining how much protein you need in your grain that your total protein includes all sources of feed, so don’t forget to look at your hay as well.  Alfalfa, for example, already comes in at ample protein with 18.4% average crude protein – yet another reason I like it for my hay ration.

Tip: The Clemson calculator has pretty similar numbers to the Feedipedia data, so if you don’t want to do the calculations manually you can simply go here and enter your feed ingredients to let it do the work for you.  The above screenshot shows what it looks like in a sample ration that is quite close to what my Nigerian Dwarf milkers might eat in a given day.

Something I have considered but not yet implemented is to offer these separately to the goats as well.  Chickens and rabbits demonstrate their ability to self select based on their changing dietary needs, so it makes sense that when being milked, goats may prefer one over the other at a given time.  Please let me know if you try this.

Continue the discussion in the Nutrition forum.

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4 Comments

  1. I think that you may be correct on the goats wanting certian grains over others at different times. We use almost the same mixture but we use wheat instead of barley. I have noticed that some times they just don’t want to eat the peas. They will push them aside in the mix and some times there are none left. I find that they consume the peas early in the babies life and in the winter. Less in the late spring to early fall. Maybe they don’t need it or they are just weird?

    1. I think it probably just varies as much as the mineral needs over time. High protein to supplement lower protein hay/pasture, for example. The buffet was what gave me the idea to apply it to feeds as well! It will be fun to experiment with. 😀

  2. I apologize for my confusion. I am new to all of this. How do I know what to give my goats? Do I focus on protein? They don’t have a lot of pasture anymore & the hay we got last year was not the best quality. I want more milk production from my dams while keeping the others healthy also. I am not understanding the above very much.

    1. I wouldn’t say that focusing on one aspect of their diet is any more important than another, although protein content is important for a producing doe especially. Quality hay is important also, especially for producing does…their rumen really needs that roughage. There’s not much that’s better for milk production than alfalfa hay. You really have to put in quality feeds if you want to expect to get anything out and keep the goats’ healthy. If your current hay is poor quality, perhaps you could repurpose it for bedding or gardening and find something better to supplement their foraging. There is a lot more information, probably that answers your questions much better than I can here in a single comment over on this article: https://theholisticgoat.com/general-feeding-guidelines/

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