Sheep vs Goats
When it comes to small ruminants, like sheep and goats, they often share several resemblances. Rightly so. They evolved from the same family group, Bovidae and subfamily, Caprinae. However, they split at the genus level.
Further complicating things, they also have many of the same dietary needs, such as roughage for digestive purposes and a balanced nutritional diet. However, they also have key differences when it comes to their nutritional regime.
Let’s explore the overall nutritional needs of the flock or herd, how they are the same, how they differ and how one nutrition company can help you #StrengthenyourStock.
Sheep vs Goats on Pasture
Sheep are grazers. They like to flock together and look down at the ground to eat grass. They are methodical and eat forage down to the ground. Sheep usually eat short grasses and clover. Because their neck naturally curves downward, they primarily ignore trees and shrubs.
While sheep graze, they prefer to utilize short, tender grasses of good nutritional quality. They are also selective feeders, usually cropping grass short and close to the ground. They are able to do so because they have a distinct groove in the center of their upper lip, called a philtrum.
Unlike sheep, goats are browsers. Goats prefer to eat leaves, twigs, and shrubs and often stand up on their hind legs to reach the tops of plants. Coupled with their curious and inquisitive habits, their liking for anything they can get in their mouths often gives them a bad reputation.
Goats have been termed intermediate feeders, which means they have a wider dietary flexibility, because they both graze and browse across a variety of plant species. They have a broader dietary preference.
Due to their adept climbing abilities, goats can also forage on different spatial levels. Because goats possess a range of physiological adaptations to effectively process a variety of forage qualities, they will outcompete sheep in some areas. This is especially true when only poorer-quality forage and grazing is available.
Meeting Nutritional Needs
Regardless of if you are raising sheep vs goats, they primarily have the same nutritional needs. The one exception is goats require copper, and copper is toxic to sheep.
Water is the most essential “nutrient” for every living being. Many biological functions including growth, development and reproduction depend on adequate water in both the sheep and goats’ diets. While water needs vary depending on the production phase your flock or herd is in, one thing remains constant. Sheep and goats need a constant source of fresh, clean water.
Forage or Fiber
Sheep and goats are ruminants, meaning they have four-compartment stomachs especially designed to digest roughage like grass, hay and silage. Forage adds bulk to the diet and keeps the rumen functioning properly by increasing rumination and salivation.
Most nutritionists agree that sheep and goats should always have roughage in their diets, at least one pound per head per day. Sheep that do not consume adequate forage may chew on wood or wool.
Energy typically makes up the largest portion of the diet of sheep and goats. When it comes to sheep vs goats, carbohydrates, fat and extra protein all contribute to meeting energy needs. Carbohydrates are the major sources of energy. The primary energy sources in the diets for these small ruminants are pasture, hay, silage and grain.
Meeting energy requirements without over or underfeeding animals can be a challenge. An energy deficiency will appear in several ways, depending on the production phase. In younger animals, an early sign of energy deficiency is reduced growth, then weight loss and ultimately death. In reproducing females, early signs of an energy deficiency are reduced conception rates, fewer multiple births and reduced milk production.
Excessive energy is also a challenge, as extra energy is stored as fat. Over-conditioned animals of both genders are not as reproductively sound. Females in late gestation are more apt to suffer from pregnancy toxemia and dystocia.
Protein requirements are highest for young, growing animals that are building muscle and lactating ewes and does that are producing milk proteins.
The most common protein supplement for sheep vs goats is soybean meal. Other less common sources include sunflower meal, cottonseed meal, whole cottonseed, whole soybeans, peanut meal, canola (rapeseed) meal, fish meal and alfalfa pellets.
Protein blocks or tubs are another good source of protein for all ages of sheep and goats. They are often offered with a total vitamin and mineral package.
Vitamins and Minerals
Numerous minerals have been classified as nutritionally essential in sheep diets. Macro-minerals, or those required in bigger amounts include:
- Sodium (Na)
- Chloride (Cl)
- Calcium (Ca
- Phosphorus (P)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Potassium (K)
- Sulfur (S)
Trace minerals, those needed in smaller amounts, include
- Iodine (I)
- Iron (Fe)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Zinc (Zn)
- Molybdenum (Mo)
- Cobalt (Co)
- Selenium (Se)
- Fluoride (Fl)
Sam Silvers, BioZyme’s National Small Ruminant and Show Livestock Business Development Manager, said that sheep and goats have much of the same nutritional needs. However, when it comes to vitamins and minerals remember to keep excess copper away from your sheep vs goats.
“Remember that goats do have a copper requirement. Excessive copper in a sheep’s diet is toxic, and no one wants to find dead sheep due to mineral toxicity,” he said.
DuraFerm® Offers Nutrition Solutions
BioZyme offers nutritional solutions for both sheep and goat producers to #StrengthentheirStock with DuraFerm. DuraFerm is a line of nutritional supplements for sheep and goats that supports optimal digestion and nutrition for maximized performance at every stage of production. For ease of use, DuraFerm comes in both loose mineral and protein tub options specially formulated for sheep and goats.
“DuraFerm is formulated at 2.5 times the NRC requirements to ensure that your flock or your herd is getting the best nutritional supplement possible. Add that in with the Amaferm, Vitamin E and organic trace minerals, you are sure to have some of the healthiest, most reproductively sound females,” Silvers said.
Every DuraFerm product is powered by AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research proven to enhance digestibility. Keeping those sheep and goats healthy in their digestive tract will help improve their overall health as well.
Nutritional Products for Sheep
DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid®
DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid is a free-choice vitamin and mineral supplement for sheep designed to support reproductive success. It contains high levels of vitamin E for reproductive tract repair and supports embryo production and conception using organic trace minerals.
DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid® HEAT®
DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid® HEAT® is a free-choice vitamin and mineral supplement for sheep designed to support reproductive success when temperatures are above 70 degrees. It contains the HEAT technology, a combination of essential oils and garlic, to support animals when heat and insects are a challenge. This product also supports embryo production and conception using organic trace minerals and high levels of vitamin E.
DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid® Protein Tub
DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid® Protein Tub is a protein tub with vitamins and minerals for sheep designed to support reproductive success. It includes the Concept•Aid sheep mineral package in a 16% natural protein tub. Supports embryo production and conception using organic trace minerals and high levels of vitamin E.
Nutritional Products for Goats
DuraFerm Goat Concept•Aid®
DuraFerm Goat Concept•Aid® is a free-choice vitamin and mineral supplement for goats designed to support reproductive success. It contains high levels of vitamin E for reproductive tract repair and supports embryo production and conception using organic trace minerals.
DuraFerm Goat Concept•Aid® Protein Tub
The DuraFerm Goat Concept•Aid® Protein Tub is a protein tub with vitamins and minerals for goats designed to support reproductive success. It includes the Concept•Aid goat mineral package in a 20% natural protein tub. Supports embryo production and conception using organic trace minerals and high levels of vitamin E.
“Not only are our products research-proven, but they have also proven themselves on sheep and goat operations from coast to coast. With high levels of Vitamin E for reproductive tract repair, Selenium for the prevention of white muscle disease and calcium for dilation, DuraFerm is a must-use mineral for does and ewes in reproduction,” Silvers said.
“The protein tubs are ideal for those females in late gestation and lactation. They meet all the requirements for energy and protein, so you don’t have the added worry of ketosis or pregnancy toxemia.”
Don’t Just Take our Word. . .
But our expertise in nutritional support for sheep vs goats doesn’t do our products justice the way real customer stories do. Craig Beckmeier raises sheep in Central Illinois. He returned to using DuraFerm in his flock after going away from it for a season. Read what he had to say.
“We knew we needed to get our flock on a better nutrition program, so we went back to the DuraFerm® Sheep Concept•Aid. We increased our conception rates in our ewes, with more live lambs. Our buck fertility was better, too.”
Do you want to Strengthen Your Stock?
Chances are you have worked long and hard making breeding decisions. You’ve invested in quality genetics for your herd or flock. If you’ve made the choice between sheep vs goats, then you deserve quality support from quality products. Why not invest in a quality mineral program, too? You can add DuraFerm to your operation.
Find a dealer closest to you by using our dealer locator.
Perhaps you want to buy it online. You certainly can!
Want more information about DuraFerm or to use our sheep or goat gestation calculators? Visit us online.