Here you will find information about the Best Grain For Goats and nutritional needs of goats, and how to feed your goat properly. Whether you are a new or established owner, we think you will find the information on this blog helpful. It may be daunting at times to learn all there is to know about feeding our beloved goats, but feeding them properly is essential for their well-being.
Goats require a lot of quality nutrition to grow healthy. A goat that is not given proper nutrition will lose weight and eventually die. You also want to make sure that you give your goats the right kind of food because each breed has their own specific nutritional requirements. Below are some suggestions on best grain for goats based on breed, purpose, and age.
What to Feed Goats: Ultimate Guide to Goat Nutrition
Introduction – What Do You Feed Goats?
What to feed goats? You probably know the old story that goats will eat anything. Cartoons depict them eating tin cans, and there are even songs about goats eating peoples’ shirts. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Goats are very picky eaters, only going for whatever is the most nutritious option. If you put some generic, low nutrition feed in their feeders, they’ll simply play with it. Why do they grab at your shirt when you go into the goat pen? They’re not trying to eat it. It’s because they’re curious, playful creatures. If you see a goat with a tin can, he’s probably trying to get something tasty out of it, or possibly eating off the paper label, not eating the can itself. So, how do you avoid buying something that your goats won’t eat? How do you know what to feed goats? Answer: By understanding how their digestive system works, how they eat, and what works best. After studying this article, you will be able to do the following:
- Tell someone the key foods and minerals goats need to stay healthy
- Know what to feed goats
- Know when and how much to feed your goats
- Recognize common goat digestive problems and know how to treat them.
How a Goat Digestive System Works
Goats are ruminants – animals with a 4-compartment stomach. Other ruminants include cattle, deer and sheep. The 4 parts in a goat’s stomach are the reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum, or the “true stomach”. Understanding how these work can help you better understand what to feed goats.
Trapping hay between pen walls makes a great temporary hay feeder during the state fair
When they eat, food first goes through microbial digestion in the reticulum and rumen. Then, it goes through an acidic breakdown in the abomasum. Finally, it undergoes enzomatic digestion and absorption in the intestines. Interestingly, when a goat is first born, it has 3 stomach compartments. This is so they can absorb the antibodies in colostrum and develop the microbes and bacteria needed for digestion. They then develop the 4th part when they start eating high-fiber foods. There are a lot of benefits to a ruminant’s complex digestive system. The microbial digestion makes it possible for them to eat a high-fiber diet and digest grass, hay, leaves, etc. They can also eat bark, weeds and woody plants that cattle and sheep can’t. This is because the bacteria in their rumen detoxifies anything that isn’t nutritious and even helps to detoxify some poisons. In that way, they’re able to eat small amounts of what are ordinarily poisonous plants. When you were wondering what to feed goats, you probably didn’t realize it could include poison ivy, did you? Not only are they semi-poison-resistant, goats are resistant to bloat. They can even safely graze alfalfa after an adaptation period to get them used to it. The bacteria also utilizes and absorbs all of the B vitamins that they need, which is something that’s hard to do, even for humans. You’re probably wondering how they get their protein if they eat an extremely high-fiber diet. The short answer is: not from what they eat. The bacteria in their stomachs convert nitrogen into protein, which is a handy feature to have considering they don’t naturally eat much protein on their own. Now that you understand a little about a goat’s digestive system, let’s look at what to feed goats if you want to give them their favorite and healthiest foods.
Goats Favorite Food
The best food for goats is natural Browse, like leaves, shoots and bark of various plants and trees which are high up away from the ground where parasites live.
Browsing vs. Grazing
There are two basic types of herbivore eating styles: grazing and browsing. Goats are browsers, which means that they eat leaves, bark, green stems, buds, vines and shrubs. They eat parts of plants, rather than eating the whole plant itself. A browser’s food tends to be easier to digest, and it’s generally higher in nutritional content. The reason for this is that browsers are picky. Instead of eating huge clumps of leaves all at once, they pick the tastiest, best-looking ones. Grazers eat mostly grass. They eat the entire plant, usually down to the ground or very close to it. They have wide muzzles so that they can pick up and eat large clumps at once. Grazing can be hard on the animal’s teeth. Not only is grass tough, but in order to get the grass, they tend to get dirt and grit in their mouths, which wears down their teeth. So, if you’re wondering what to feed goats that will be the healthiest, then browse is the ticket.
Conventional pasture rotation ensures that your goats will constantly be moved to areas that have food high in nutritional value. Typically, pasture rotation takes place every 30 days or so. However, this is also the same amount of time needed for parasites to become the most infectious. So, while you’re moving your animals to more nutritious food, you may be moving them to parasite infested areas, as well. Here are some tips on how to avoid worms with pasture techniques. Graze a contaminated pasture with another species of livestock. Goat parasites don’t survive in the guts of other herbivores. (Except sheep. Don’t try this method with sheep. They can share and spread parasites with goats.) Use a first-grazer, second-grazer system. If other herbivores graze the pasture first, there won’t be parasites there that goats can contract. If you have a lot of land versus a small number of goats, let them browse the large pasture. They’ll forage from plants that are higher off the ground and therefore they’ll be less likely to pick parasites up from the ground. Use control grazing. Control grazing allows your goats to graze for a limited time. Then, you move them before the plants get too short. (You don’t want them under 4 inches.) If you don’t control their grazing, goats will go straight to their favorite plants every time, leaving the area heavily infested. Cut pastures for hay in between grazing periods and rotations. Studies have shown that this can decrease the parasite population significantly. Use plants with high tannin levels, like black locust. Tannins prevent the growth of parasite eggs, and therefore lower the gastrointestinal parasite numbers. Put a pasture to rest. It takes a long time for parasites and their eggs to simply die off. It may seem impractical, but it requires the pasture to be left alone for a whole year, or at least a whole grazing season.
What to Feed Goats
Here is a list of what to feed goats, aside from what they eat while browsing:
Hay will be the main source of nutrition for your goats. It’s good for feeding your goats when browsing season has passed, or if you don’t have access to a pasture.
Best Hay for Goats
There are a few choices of hay to choose from, but the most common is grass hay. You can feed them hay freely, or twice a day. Alfalfa is a great source of protein and can be fed to your goats twice a day along with foraging. It’s got more proteins, vitamins and minerals than grass hay. It’s a good choice for milk goats, as well, because it’s high in calcium.
We get round bales of grass hay from a nearby farm and gradually pull it off as we feed our goats. A wooden pallet keeps it off the damp ground. And a tarp keeps the rain off so it doesn’t get wet and moldy, which can make goats sick.
Alfalfa Pellets for Goats
Alfalfa pellets are great because they avoid waste. With regular alfalfa, goats drop a lot of it on the ground and it gets wasted. When goats eat pellets instead, there isn’t so much waste. Just keep in mind that goats need a certain amount of long grains like regular hays, so never feed them just pellets alone.
Alfalfa pellets are great because alfalfa is healthy for the goats and being pelletized means less gets wasted.
This comes in 4 different varieties: whole, pelleted, rolled and texturized.
- Whole Grains: Natural and unprocessed seed heads.
- Pelleted Grains: Milled grains or byproducts that are shaped into a pellet form and mixed with a binding agent to make sure it keeps its form.
- Rolled Grains: Natural and unprocessed, much like whole grains, but they’ve been rolled flat.
- Texturized Grains: Similar to rolled, but with other grains mixed in for added nutrition.
How Much Grain to Feed a Goat
It doesn’t matter a lot which variety you choose to use. What does matter is how much you feed your goats. Only give them about 1 cup per adult or ½ cup per kid. Overfeeding grain feed to your goats can be very detrimental to their health, causing health problems, making goats fat, causing illnesses and even death.
Medicated Goat Feed
Medicated goat feed is a feed that includes a coccidiastat which helps prevent coccidiosis in goat kids. If you’re wondering what to feed goats when they have coccidia, this is it. Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease which affects a goat’s intestinal tract, and young kids are especially susceptible to getting it. Some goat farmers automatically treat their kids with medicated goat feed during the early months of life to be safe. Others hesitate to use medicated feed on a regular basis because they feel they shouldn’t introduce unnatural medications until they know their goats have a specific problem that needs to be treated. Many people wait until they see their goat has coccidiosis and then treat them. Either way, you want to avoid drinking milk from a goat while they are being treated with certain medications.
Organic Goat Feed
If you’re wanting to know what to feed goats for a healthier grain option, there are many varieties of organic goat feed you can choose from, most of which are made from grains that were grown without being genetically modified or treated with chemicals. There are also a lot of recipes online that you can follow to make your own organic goat feed.
A clean aluminum trash can is perfect for storing goat feed where it can stay dry and the goats can’t get to it. Otherwise, they could gobble up too much of it and make themselves seriously sick with Bloat. You can see this particular brand has Black Oil Sunflower Seeds mixed in – good for the does but not for bucks due to greater risk of urinary calculi.
Best Feed for Goats
Goat farmers will argue over which feed is the best for goats. However, the “best” feed for your goats is something that only you can determine. You know your goats and their environment better than anyone else. The “best” feeding strategy is to learn about your goats nutritional needs, know any deficiencies in the soil and water in your area and study the ingredients in feeds that are available to you. Then, you can determine which feeds are best to meet the nutritional needs of your particular herd.
What Not to Feed Goats
Since goats are herbivorous, you do not want them to eat any meat or dairy products. Their stomachs are not designed to process those products. Feeding your goat anything, including supplements that contain meat or dairy products, can result in all kinds of health issues.
You should also check your pasture to make sure that it does not contain plants that are poisonous to goats, such as azalea, rhododendron, and yew.
Most importantly, make sure that your hay is not moldy when you feed it to your goats. If you even suspect that it could have mold, throw it away, as moldy hay can result in illnesses such as goat polio, listeriosis, or even death.
Goat Feeding Chart
Feeding Chart for Baby Goats 1-90 Days Old
|1-3 days||Colostrum 300ml 3 feedings|
|4-14 days||350ml 3 feedings|
|15-30 days||350ml 3 feedings||A little||A little|
|31-60 days||400ml 2 feedings||100–150 grams||Free choice|
|61-90 days||200ml feedings||200–250 grams||Free choice|
Feeding Chart for Growing Goats 3-12 Months Old
|3 months||150-200 grams||500 grams||As per choice|
|4 months||200-250 grams||600 grams||As per choice|
|5 months||225-275 grams||700 grams||As per choice|
|6 months||250-300 grams||800 grams||As per choice|
|7 months||250-300 grams||900 grams||As per choice|
|8 months||300-350 grams||1,000 grams||As per choice|
|9 months||300-350 grams||1,000 grams||As per choice|
|10 months||300-350 grams||1,200 grams||As per choice|
|11 months||300-350 grams||1,300 grams||As per choice|
|12 months||300-350 grams||1,500 grams||As per choice|
Feeding Chart for Adult Goats
|Adult Type||Grazing (number of hours per day)||Straw||Green Fodder||Concentrate|
|Dry, non-pregnant doe, adult male||5-6 hours||300-400 grams||750-1,000 grams||100-150 grams|
|Lactating doe||5-6 hours||300-400 grams||1000-1,500 grams||100+(400g/kg milk)|
|Breeding bucks||5-6 hours||300-400 grams||1000-1,500 grams||500 grams during breeding season only|
How Often to Feed Goats
The amount of feed a goat requires varies with age, size, and the animal’s function. However, as mentioned, the average adult goat requires about 4 pounds of hay per day to thrive. That figure can increase or decrease depending on the amount the goat forages on pasture. This means that more foraging equates to less hay, while less foraging means more consumption of hay.
Consider feeding your goat twice a day, meaning about 2 pounds of hay in the morning and the other 2 pounds in the evening.
Is it Essential to Pasture Goats?
Pasture is vital to goats, as it is their primary source of nutrients. Pasture is especially rich in protein and energy. What’s more, it is cheap, which is why it is so popular with farmers. Therefore, ensure that your goats have access to pasture.
Can Goats Eat Kitchen and Garden Scraps?
Yes, goats can eat your compost. However, you must first make sure that it does not contain foods or materials that are toxic to goats.
Best Treats and Food Supplements for Goats
Providing your goats with free-choice goat supplements is essential, as it ensures that they are receiving the proper amount of nutrients daily. As mentioned, loose minerals or mineral blocks are the ideal forms of supplementation for goats, as they supply these animals with nutrients such as chlorine, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, vitamins A, D, and E, as well as trace minerals such as copper, cobalt, iron, iodine, manganese, and zinc.
When it comes to treats, desist from feeding too many to goats, as lots of treats encourage weight gain and urinary calculi. Nonetheless, the occasional treat is recommended for keeping your goats happy. Most goat treats come in the form of vegetables and fruits such as:
- Sunflower Seeds
What to Do if Your Goat Is Not Eating
Goats live to eat, literally. Therefore, one of the most telling signs of illness in goats is a decrease or lack of appetite. Therefore, if you notice that your goat has not been eating normally, have the animal examined by a vet.
Among all the ruminants, goats are only the animals which can eat and consume almost all types of food. So, if you are planning to start a goat farming business, then you don’t have to think much about what to feed goat. Because you can raise goats by providing them all types of natural, home or commercially formulated goat feed. Nowadays goat farming is becoming very popular because of it’s multifunctional utility. We can get many goat products like meat, milk, skins, fiber, manner etc. from them. But the profitable production from goat farming business mostly depends on proper feed supply and management systems. Proper feed management includes providing nutritious food, vitamins, minerals, energy, protein etc. So, before starting goat farming business it is a must to learn about how to and what to feed goat. Read flowing step by step goat feed management system.
It is very necessary to make a pasture for your goats, where they can browse freely and eat food from there. By browsing pasture, your goats will remain healthy and will get sufficient and necessary food elements like energy and protein. Natural food from pasture also helps the goats increasing the tastiness and digestibility of other foods. A pasture with natural plants and grasses like millet, Sudan grasses, Bahia grasses, grain grass mixture, clover, sorghum etc. are very healthy and effective for goats production and health. In pasture if the goats can browse freely then it will help them to keep free from various internal and external parasitical diseases.
Hay is another important source of goat nutrition, especially in winter seasons. Feed your goats mold free qualified grasses based hay. You can also feed your goats weedy hay because it is very cheap and contain a large amount of necessary nutrition. There are various types of hays are available. Among those lespedeza, alfalfa and clover hays are highly enriched in protein and some other essential nutrients.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Presence of vitamins and minerals in goat feed is a must. Because, vitamins and minerals keeps the goat productive and help them preventing various types of diseases. They need a lot of vitamins and minerals ingredients in their food. Some feed elements like phosphorus, salt and calcium are very useful minerals for goats. You can provide a premix of loose minerals, because goats prefer that very much. For proper growth and production, they also need some vitamins like Vitamin A, D, and E. So, while feeding your goats, be sure that all those elements are available in their regular and daily food.
If sufficient natural goat feed is not available in your location then you can feed your goat 12% to 16% grainy formulated food to your goats. You should provide creep and complementary feeding to the kids. Grain is a great source of carbons and protein. Rye, oats, moil, corn, barley etc. are cereal grains and highly enriched with carbon, and energy. Cottons meal, soybean meal, fish meal and some other protein supplements formulated from animals and plants are suitable source of protein for goats.
GARDEN AND KITCHEN SCRAPS
By raising goats you can proper utilize your garden and kitchen scraps. Generally garden and kitchen scraps are used in compositors purpose. But by raising goats you can use those scraps as their feed. Goats will happily eat all those scraps. Some general garden and kitchen scraps like banana peels, orange peels, tomato, garlic skins other vegetables and fruit cutting etc. are very suitable food that you can feed your goats. Goats don’t eat some elements like eggs shells, fish cutting etc. Instead you can feed such products to your chickens and ducks.
As goats are ruminants, they eat almost all types of food which they find in front to them. Even they have interest in papers and can eat or consume papers. But feeding any types of paper may harm their health, because paper contain some chemicals. While browsing goats may find cigarette or cigarette butts, which is also very harmful their health. Some producers feed their goats dogs or cats feed. As dogs or cats are totally different form goats and their nature. So, feeding your goats such food may causes serious health problems. Besides those foods, there are some other foods also which are very harmful for goats health like nightshade, crotalaria, poke weed, peach leaves, plum leaves etc.
11 TIPS FOR FEEDING YOUR GOATS:
- Before feeding, determine the health condition of your goats.
- Store the feeds in safe place for keeping the food value intact.
- While storing, never let the feeds being vermin, damp or contaminated.
- Always try to feed your goats in hygienic ways.
- In case of feeding hay, always try to feed high and good quality hay.
- Be sure that, the half of your goat diet is coming from forage.
- Ensure adequate vitamins, green feed ingredients and minerals in goat feed. Because it is the key to be successful in goat farming.
- Never change the food habit of goat suddenly. If needed try to change gradually.
- Ensure colostrum for newly born kids.
- Keep the formulated food far from the goats.
- Always provide your goats sufficient clean and fresh water according to their demands.