Algae-based Winter Feed for Small-Scale Goat
Meat goat farming is rapidly becoming a growth industry in Georgia especially for small farmers. The difficulty in any successful meat goat operation is the ability to sustain a breeding herd throughout the (albeit short) winter in a cost effective manner. What the producer feels is needed is an alternative/supplemental source of feed that is able to at least partially sustain a pregnant or lactating animal through the winter when no browse is available. The feed source should provide good nutrition, be cheap to produce and require no chemical fertilizers or other chemical additives.
This producer will examine the suitability of farm-produced algal mats as a feed source for a goat herd throughout the winter. Algae, including the common blue green algae (cyanobacteria), are aquatic plants which have no roots, leaves, seeds, or flowers. Over half of all the photosynthesis on earth is carried out by algae and they produce oxygen as a by-product. Blue-green algae are known by several other names including “pond scum” and “slime”. The algae can be encouraged to grow on a medium that is in ready abundance on any farm regardless of size. That medium is silage made from grass clippings. This combination of grass clipping silage and algae is referred to as algal mat. The most notable feature of these mats is that on a pound-for-pound basis they have higher percentages of protein, chlorophyll and Vitamin B complex than do regular agriculture plants.
The producer will construct two artificial ponds (2 meters by 20 meters each) out of wood and lined with heavy gauge plastic in an area that receives full sun. A third pond will be constructed on a farm in south Georgia to test the reproducibility of the results. Drying racks will be constructed out of wood and plastic screen.