Maize/Mealies – Feed whole or finely ground?
By Malcolm Hobson

Friday, 25th January 2019

Farmers often ask should mealies be ground fine or whole when fed to Angora goats.

There are a number of sides to this question so it is not a simple answer.


Important points to remember:

  • The passage rate of fine material through the rumen is faster “Rumen residence time”. Therefore the utilisation of the maize in the rumen is thought to be reduced.
  • However, the surface area of the mealie is increased when finer and so more exposed to bacteria.


Taking these two points into consideration which is more important?

  • Starch fermentation in fine mealies is 2.5% better than whole mealies


It is also important to take into consideration the safety aspect. The whole mealie’s residence time is greater than the finely ground mealie and safer. Rumination is also stimulated by the whole mealie and so better buffer effect created by the alkaline saliva.

Sub-optimal rumen conditions are sometimes seen in Angora goats when supplementary feed is introduced. The overfeeding of carbohydrate in relation to good quality fibre may occur during times of drought, flush feeding, pregnancy and lactation may lead to acidosis. Decreased palatable fibre and periods of hunger can also lead to sub-optimal rumen pH conditions.

See the SAMGA website for more information on acidosis

A simple approach to feeding mealies

  1. If feeding whole maize in a ration then feed 60-80% whole mealies with reduced roughage (
  2. If feeding finely ground mealies (

To prevent acidosis remember:

  • Gradually introducing goats to grain or pellets
  • During the introduction phase, feed pellets or grain daily. Increase rations proportion every 5 days over at least 15 days. Maximum 50g per head until a target amount is fed.
  • Ensure goats always have access to roughage when feeding concentrate. At least 20% -30% of ration. The average daily weight gain will increase when given access to fibre.
  • Monitor your flock for signs of severe acidosis: scouring, depression, lethargy and lameness, which will indicate that the amount of grain being fed is being increased too fast.
  • If kids are to be fed concentrates after weaning start feeding ewes about 50g on 4 separate occasions over 2 weeks before weaning.
  • Check pulpy kidney vaccinations are up to date and vaccinate if necessary before feeding.




Faffa Malan


Henning Vermaak, M.Sc (Agric)


Essential Nutrient Systems

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