Sheep & Goats

Amaferm Sheep & Goat


Sheep are ruminants, and ruminants must have roughage in their diet to keep the rumen functioning properly. Roughage is defined as any feed ingredient that has a high concentration of fiber that breaks down slowly. The best roughage is long coarse fiber. Long coarse fiber is plant material that is from 3/8 inch to 1-1/2 inches in length or longer. The rumen works best when the roughage effect takes place. The coarse materials rub against the walls of the rumen, stimulating the muscles to contract and relax — agitating the materials in the rumen. The resulting slurry of materials is more easily digested by the microorganisms that inhabit the rumen. Think of the rumen as a fermentation vat. Once the microorganisms have done their initial work, the animal regurgitates and re-chews the coarse materials before the microorganisms can metabolize them to benefit the ruminant.

Forage digestion is greatest when the rumen pH is between 6 to 6.8. At a pH above this, not enough VFA are being produced to provide energy to the animal, and at a pH below 6, the forage digesting bacteria become less effective. When saliva mixes with the cud, “buffers” in the saliva help keep rumen acidity down. Rumen microorganisms work best in a neutral to slightly-acidic environment. When sheep are fed sugars, starches, and other rapidly digested feeds (grain-based feeds), the rumen becomes more acidic. Introducing long fiber into the rumen helps minimize this acidic effect by the longer chewing time that is necessary to break down and digest the fibrous materials. The longer fibrous material has to be re-chewed, and therefore remains in the rumen longer — adding to this buffering effect. This nutritional balance is critical to the good health of the ruminant consuming forage. When this balance gets out of line the animal cannot reach peak performance. Amaferm® has been found to result in an increase in growth rates of lactate utilizing bacteria which may lead to a stabilization of ruminal pH, on both high-forage and high-grain diets that are fed to sheep.



Amaferm® has been proven to increase feed efficiency by 4.9% in lambs fed a ground corn diet. Sheep consume a much greater percentage of their body weight on a daily basis than cattle, and feedlot lambs can eat the equivalent of 3.5% to 4.5% of their own body weight daily. This makes them very susceptible to acidosis. Amaferm® has been shown to increase the lactic acid utilizing bacteria, thus stabilizing rumen pH and providing an additional line of defense against subacute acidosis, which can occur in lambs being transitioned to new diets, regardless of age, and reduce feed intake and feed efficiency if not controlled. This means that the addition of Amaferm to an animal’s feedlot receiving, growing, finishing diets not only improves digestibility, but aids in animal health, which improves feed efficiency and profitability.



Amaferm® increases digestion and VFA production, which results in increased energy for weight gain. In a recent trial at The Ohio State University, Amaferm® supplementation resulted in an 8.8% improvement in ADG in lambs fed a ground corn diet. Amaferm® may have its greatest effect on feed efficiency. Many University trials have shown the improvement in feed to gain. Overall, Amaferm® has shown a 4.9% improvement in feed efficiency in sheep.

Goats, like sheep, are small ruminants. However, where sheep are selective grazers, goats are aggressive browsers of the foliage of trees and shrubs that will select high-quality portions of grasses and other herbaceous plants when available. They are known to have a faster rate of turnover and shorter retention time of feed in the rumen, which results in their having a lower digestibility of cellulose and hemicellulose compared with cattle and sheep (Huston et al., 1986). In addition to these differences, there is a lot of variation in goats. The four biotypes of goats are Angora, Boer, dairy, and indigenous (also called local). Depending on the breed, goats are used for a variety of products including mohair (Angora), milk (dairy and some indigenous), and meat (Boer and indigenous). Regardless of the breed, goats have a requirement for high-energy and high protein feeds, since they do not digest forages as well as cattle and sheep. Amaferm®’s impact of increasing VFA and microbial protein can be exceptionally important to goats. Having more energy and more protein from forages results in greater milk yield and production in goats.



Goats play a dual role in both meat and milk production. A goat lactation study conducted by Dr. Sander Abrahamse, Provimi, in The Netherlands in 2011 using 115 lactating goats in their second lactation, on average, confirmed that Amaferm® is beneficial in lactating goat diets. The diet was 71% concentrate and 29% forage. Amaferm®, fed at 1 gram per head per day resulted in a 9% increase in milk yield and a 4% increase in milk solids.

More Milk/Components with Amaferm®

Milk Fat
Milk Protein
Milk Components
(fat & protein)
Amaferm® 2.94 3.51 3.61 209.0
Control .2.70 3.77 3.67 201.2
Percent of Control 109% 93% 98% 104%

Provimi WEMEA, Abrahamse 2011