When it comes to food, goats might be the least picky eaters of all time. Whether it’s grass, hay, or scraps from your kitchen, these adorable creatures will eat almost anything. But just because they will eat anything doesn’t mean they should. Goats need to consume a specific amount of forage, grain, vitamins, and minerals to maintain optimal health.
If you have backyard goats, follow this guide to ensure they’re getting the necessary nutrients for a long, healthy life!
Forage (hay, alfalfa, grass) should be the bulk of your goats’ diet. Adult goats need to consume 3-4% of their body weight in forage daily. To help them out, feed your goats two pounds of forage in the morning and two pounds in the evening.
2. Pasture and Grazing
For goats to thrive, they need access to pasture like grass, trees, herbs, bushes, and flowers. Not only is pasture rich in nutrients, but it’s also the most affordable option for you. Make sure your goats have enough space to graze and that the area is securely fenced. Goats are intelligent and curious creatures by nature, so they’ll wander off to explore if given a chance.
3. Grain Feed
Grain is an excellent supplement to any goat’s complete diet. Ideally, grain feed for goats should include a combination of oats, barley, and wheat. Since goat feed is a constant staple of your herd’s diet, springing for higher-quality options helps bolster their health. To prevent overeating, constipation, and unhealthy weight gain, use a feeder to manage grain portions.
4. Kitchen and Garden Scraps
Goats are herbivores and LOVE eating fruits and veggies. Tomatoes, bananas, watermelon, spinach, pumpkins, grapes, celery, and lettuce are some of the safe fruits and vegetables for goats to eat. Just remember that avocados, potato skins, garlic, and rhubarb leaves are highly toxic to goats, so keep those out of their food.
Dehydration can be life-threatening to goats, and sometimes having fresh, clean water around won’t cut it. To encourage goats to drink more water, try adding apple cider vinegar or molasses to sweeten it. You can also purchase goat electrolyte supplements to increase hydration. If you have more than two goats, make sure there are multiple water sources so they all have equal access.
Just like humans, goats need vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. These include zinc, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium. Mineral deficiencies in goat diets can lead to anemia, reduced fertility, weak muscles, weight loss, stillbirths, and low milk supply. Pasture and forage should provide most of their essential vitamins and minerals, but pelleted mineral supplements can help increase mineral intake.