What do Goats Eat?

What do Goats Eat?

Whether you’re into raising goats on traditional farms or considering them cute companions in your suburban backyard, understanding their dietary needs is crucial.

Goats are versatile animals cherished for their endearing nature and ability to produce milk, cheese, and even unique household items like goat milk soap.

But no matter your reason for raising these delightful creatures, one thing remains constant: the importance of proper feed supply and management.

 

What Should I Feed My Goats? Goat Feed Management:

Raising goats requires attention to their diet, ensuring they get the necessary nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. Next, we’ll delve into the critical elements of goat feed supply and management.

Water:

Goats always need fresh, clean water, with the amount varying based on factors like weather and lactation. Monitoring and adjusting their water supply regularly is crucial to meet these changing needs.

 

Pasture:

A minimum of 15 square feet of pasture per pair of goats is ideal. They thrive on various grasses like Bahia, clover, and sorghum. Pastures provide nourishment and allow goats to forage, which is vital for their protein and energy intake. Rotating pastures is critical to prevent overgrazing and reduce parasite risks.

 

Hay:

In addition to pasture, goats may need hay, especially during cold or rainy weather. Quality, mold-free hay, such as alfalfa or clover, is essential. Chaffhaye is an excellent alternative, offering additional nutrients and energy. If using corn stalk bales, supplement with other feed types for balanced nutrition.

 

Feed:

For optimal health, consider certified organic feed for your goats. This ensures they receive all necessary nutrients, whether they are pets or profit-driven farm animals.

 

Vitamins and Minerals:

Goats need essential vitamins like A, E, and D and minerals such as salt, calcium, and phosphorus. A balanced diet promotes growth, strength, and disease resistance.

 

Treats and Snacks:

After establishing a healthy diet, you can occasionally treat your goats. Be cautious about what they can eat, and always chop fruits and vegetables into small, easily swallowable pieces.

 

What Goats Should and Shouldn’t Eat

Contrary to popular belief, goats shouldn’t eat everything they find. While they can safely consume some human foods like bread, peanut butter, and popcorn in moderation, their diet should mainly consist of healthier options like fruits and vegetables.

It’s vital to distinguish between their natural curiosity and appropriate dietary choices.

 

What Goats Can Eat

Goats enjoy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, making kitchen and garden scraps excellent treats. Here are some nutritious options:

  • Apples: Offer carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and vitamins.
  • Apricots: Provide vitamins A, C, and E and are low in fat.
  • Bananas: Rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamins B and C.
  • Blueberries: A superfood packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Grapes: Contain fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins C and K.
  • Grapefruits: High in vitamins C and A, plus folate.
  • Oranges: Full of vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, and folate.
  • Strawberries: Deliver phytonutrients, manganese, folic acid, and vitamins C and K.
  • Watermelon: A good source of potassium and vitamins A, B, and C.
  • Goat-safe scraps like banana peels, orange peels, and watermelon rinds are also beneficial.

 

Regarding vegetables, carrots are a healthy snack, and corn is acceptable in moderation (up to 10% of their diet). However, avoid certain vegetables like cabbages and green parts of nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes), as they can harm goats.

 

What Goats Can’t Eat

Effective pasture management is essential to keep goats away from harmful plants and foods. Some common toxic plants include:

  • Azaleas
  • Holly trees and bushes
  • Lilacs
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Milkweed
  • Nightshade vegetables
  • Plants with oxalates
  • Rhubarb leaves

 

In addition, specific fruits and vegetables pose risks. Wild cherries, including leaves, seeds, and fruit, can cause cyanide poisoning. Avocados are dangerous due to persin, a toxin in fruit, leaves, and seeds. Potato skins contain solanine, another harmful substance.

Other items to avoid feeding goats are:

  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Meat scraps
  • Anything with caffeine

 

These can lead to severe illness or death, so it’s crucial to ensure goats don’t have access to these items.

 

FAQs

 

What do goats eat the most?

Goats have specific dietary preferences, especially those raised for milking or other agricultural purposes. Here’s what they consume most:

  • Brushy Plants: Goats are efficient browsers and favor brushy plants.
  • Woody and Weedy Plants: Found commonly on ranges, these are a significant part of their diet.
  • Fiber and Roughage: Their digestive system efficiently processes various fiber and roughage.

 

Understanding these dietary habits is crucial when you raise goats, ensuring they get the nutrition they need for optimal health and productivity.

 

What foods do goats love the most?

Pet goats have their favorites when it comes to feeding time. While they’re known for their ability to browse and digest a variety of fibrous foods, there are certain items they particularly enjoy. These include:

  • Citrus Fruits: Many goats have a sweet spot for citrus fruits, which can be a delightful treat.
  • Leafy Greens: They love leafy greens, which are nutritious and easy to digest.
  • Grains: A small amount of grains can be a welcomed change in their diet.

 

Remember, while it’s tempting to feed goats these favorites, balancing their diet with the roughage and fibrous foods they naturally consume is essential.

 

Are goats always hungry?

In goat farming, it’s common to observe goats seemingly always eating. This behavior is due to their natural grazing instinct. Goats move around their environment, nibbling on hay and other available food sources throughout the day.

They consume small amounts frequently, which might give the impression they’re always hungry. This constant movement and eating pattern is a fundamental aspect of goats’ dietary habits and is crucial for their health and well-being.

 

What do goats need to eat daily?

For optimal health, goats’ daily diet should primarily consist of:

  • Goats Forage: They need a steady supply of fresh forage, which forms the bulk of their nutrition.
  • Goats Hay: In situations where forage isn’t available, good quality hay is essential for goats eating regimen.
  • Supplemental Feed: Depending on their energy requirements, supplementing goats’ diet with concentrates or grain alongside goats hay and forage can be beneficial.

 

This combination ensures that goats get the necessary daily nutrition, whether casually grazing or consuming prepared feeds.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, maintaining the health and productivity of goats, mainly milking goats, hinges on a well-managed diet.

The cornerstone of keeping goats healthy is providing a balanced diet of goats forage and high-quality hay, supplemented with additional nutrition as needed.

Awareness of harmful foods is equally important to ensure their well-being. Adhering to these dietary principles ensures that your goats thrive, whether raised for milk, meat, or companionship.