To the uninitiated, goats may seem to be the easiest animal to care for. After all, goats have a reputation for consuming just about anything. But not so fast, as those claims are more or less old wives’ tales. Like any other animal, a goat will eat what is available to survive. However, it does not mean that they do not have dietary preferences.
What’s more, not feeding your goats the correct diet not only compromises their health but also lowers their quality of milk or meat. So, what should you feed goats? Read on to learn everything you need to know about this subject.
What to Feed Goats
Goats need the following to thrive:
Roughage should always be available to goats, with hay being the best form of roughage for goats. Hay should form the bulk of your goat’s daily feed, making up to 40%. Goats bred for milking should consume more hay than others do, with experts recommending feeding milking goats up to 9 pounds of hay per day. For other goats, 4 pounds of hay per day should be enough.
When it comes to the choice of hay, Alfalfa is the best, as it contains more vitamins, minerals, and protein than any other type of grass.
Grains are a great source of proteins and vitamins for goats. However, refrain from feeding your goats too much grain, as this can negatively affect their health.
One cup of grain is sufficient for adult goats, while ½ cup of grain is ideal for kids (baby goats). However, pregnant goats and those kept for milking can eat up to 2 cups a day, as they need the extra protein and fat. The best types of grains to feed goats are wheat, barley, and oats.
You should provide your goat with loose minerals to allow the animal-rich access to nutrients that are not in high concentration in their feed. Consider buying blocks of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus for your goat.
Goats require lots of water to help them digest their roughage-rich diet. Therefore, make sure that your goats have access to lots of fresh and clean water 24/7.
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. Here is the complete list of plants that are poisonous to goats.
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:
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.
While goats do not require as much care as some animals do, you still need to be knowledgeable about their needs, as that will allow you to keep them happy and productive. Be sure to learn as much as possible about goats to avoid making common mistakes that first-time goat keepers make.
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