Goat farming is widely practised by smallholder farmers. This is because it allows for limited financial investment while giving back a substantial amount of profit. Goat farming sustains a large number of the world’s population. However, with the growing practice of goat farming comes a great demand for feed. Resultantly, feed costs are sky high and so most farmers are unable to sustain balanced dietary plan. The agricultural community is therefore focused on finding alternative feed sources that are both readily available and nutritious. Results indicate that goats can feed on grapes to maintain quality dietary plans without adversely affecting health, reproduction as well as production. Farmers must be aware that successful utilization of unconventional feed stuff such as grapes depends on the nutritional value of the supplement versus animal nutritional needs.

Nutritional Value

An ideal feed supplement is one that is complementary to the staple feed. As such, goats can eat grapes only when paired with an appropriate staple feed. Grapes are a rich source of nutrients and minerals necessary for growth, milk production and health maintenance. They contain antioxidant agents that help to prevent cell and muscle damage caused by oxidants. As such, goats can feed on grapes as a means to improve on performance. According to agricultural experts, grape pomace is a highly valuable product. Grape pomace is a term that refers to the skin, pulp, seeds and in some cases, stems. Grapes consist of crude fibre, crude fat, crude protein, starch and energy. They are also a source of minerals, namely; calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and iron among other elements. To add on, grapes are rich source of vitamins K and C which play an important role in the prevention of diseases. Goats can feed on grapes to lower signs of retinal damage. Grapes have compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin that protect the goat’s eyes from blue light.

Note that grapes are not all good for livestock health. As such, goats can feed on grapes provided care is taken when developing feed strategies. Grapes have the potential to chock baby goats hence the need to slice them into tiny pieces prior to feeding.  Goats are sometimes allergic to grapes and so may feel itchy in the mouth and throats. Also, grapes are high in fibre therefore too much consumption my lead to constipation. Other side effects of excess feeding include indigestion, stomach flatulence and obesity. Though highly beneficial, the phenolic compounds can form complexes with protein in the feed and with digestive enzymes leading to the disruption of the digestive process and loss of nutrients. These also have the potential to interfere with mineral absorption resulting in the damage of the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, the high tannin content of grapes paired with fibre is said to be among the leading causes of low digestibility. Keep in mind that goats can eat grapes without experiencing any of these conditions, that is if recommended guidelines are met.

Physical Development

Feeding strategies play a crucial role in the physiological development of livestock. When provided in sufficient quantities, grapes are highly beneficial to animal performance. Grapes are a source of minerals and nutrients necessary for bone, teeth and muscle development. Goats can feed on grapes in order to absorb trace elements that are necessary for energy metabolism and growth. Research indicates that goats fed grapes often record excellent weight gain and carcass growth. The downside is that grapes are a low protein source and so should be provided with feed rich in protein. Failure to do so exposes livestock to a number of diseases. Goats with insufficient supply of protein fail to reach their full potential in terms of growth and weight gain. As previously mentioned, grapes are known to cause low digestibility. It therefore becomes necessary to provide livestock with feed additives. This can also be managed by providing limited supplements. Studies on the subject matter reveal that goats can eat grapes if rations do not exceed 10% of the entire dietary plan. Rations can be increased to approximately 19%; however such rations are not commendable as they may cause negative effects on growth and development.

Milk Production

Lactating goats can feed on grapes in order to improve performance and yield quality. This however takes great skill to achieve. Special attention should be directed towards reaching a balance between the nutritional value of grapes as well as the feed staple versus the dietary requirements of livestock. Errors are most likely to cause reduced milk yields. Research indicates that providing excess grape rations to lactating goats leads to reduced milk lactose, fat as well as protein content. That being said, goats can eat grapes as the benefits outweigh the risks. When provided is appropriate quantities, grapes provide livestock with essential nutrients for health maintenance. This translates directly to milk production and profitability as healthy livestock are highly productive. Also, trace elements such as calcium are important for the production of good quality milk. Moreover, trace elements help to fight free radicals that are known to cause oxidation. Resultantly, livestock are able to achieve increased milk production.

Health Maintenance

Goats can eat grapes so as to acquire nutrients lacking in forage. Grapes are valuable products in maintaining healthy livestock.  They contain vitamins that are important in maintaining immune system integrity thereby allowing for hardy livestock that are resistant to disease and infection. Trace minerals found in grapes are of the essence in blood synthesis, hormone structure, normal reproduction and vitamin synthesis as well as enzyme formation. Likewise goats can feed on grapes to absorb flavonoids that are highly famed for their ability to enhance and modulate the immune system. Studies reveal that grapes contain compounds that are of the utmost importance in livestock daily sustenance.

Goats can feed on grapes which is a rich source of antioxidant needed for quality production. Lipid oxidation is a common problem in livestock farming. It is known to affect the nutritional value of the feed and its taste as well as texture. Grapes contain antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin. They also consist of selenium which is an active component of several microbial enzymes. It is interrelated with Vitamin E and is specifically found in the enzyme glutathione peroxidase which reduces peroxides in the intracellular space thereby protecting cells against oxidative damage. Resultantly, production is enhanced allowing for a successful agricultural venture.