What do goats eat? Best goat food list and what goats drink
As browsers (as opposed to grassers), what do goats eat seems an easy question to answer.
This is because goats eat a wide variety of materials ranging from woody shrubs to weeds and grasses
But As a goat farmer, your goats need additional or regulated food intake for healthy living and optimal production.
Basically, what you feed your goats is essential to how good they produce and when it comes to feeding your goats.
Be sure to experience some tough battle, goats are intentional in feeding, they instantly refuse to even mow over some food materials.
They instead choose what to eat based on what they admire and is available to them at the given time.
What do goats like to eat?
Goats like to eat grasses, leaves shrubs and even bark of trees when they browse but when they can’t browse, they must be fed by the owner.
This is why as a goat farmer; you must understand their nutritional needs at every stage of growth.
Feeding is an essential part of goat farming and to be successful in goat farming; you need to understand what’s best for your goats.
So, what do goats eat? In this goat food guide, we will discuss what goats like to eat, where to get your goat food and how best to feed your goats.
Best goat food list
Goats feed on a wide variety of food but to keep your goat’s healthy, increase their milk production and their body weight.
- Pasture crops and Forage
- Little Grains
- Household and garden products
- Food Peals
- Minerals and some
1. Goats eat Hays
Goats at every stage of growth need a certain amount of protein in the food they eat.
Hay provides the goat with quality protein and energy, therefore goats needs at least 2 – 4 pounds of Hay per day.
It can be fed free-choice or twice a day; the hay should be kept clean.
The nutrient content of hay depended largely on the maturity of the hay and how it was cut and baled.
You can ascertain the nutrient content of the hay before supplying them to the goats in a forage testing laboratory.
The Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) and protein content of the hay should be below 35% before feeding them to the goats.
There are different types of hay that you can feed your goats and they include alfalfa hay, chaff hay and grass hay.
Quality grass-based hay should be fed to the goats often due to their nutritional benefits.
Weedy hays are also important because they are easy to source for and contain a good amount of nutrients.
It is what they mostly eat in the winter when they don’t have access to the range.
Type of Hay for Goats
There are different types of hay you can feed the goats, the include
- Legume Hay: such as alfalfa.
- Grass-based Hay: such as orchard grass, bluegrass, Timothy, Brome.
- Cereal grain straw such Oat hays.
- Mixed hay such as legume and grass
Most hays are not popular in some parts of the world, you can feed your goat the type of hays popular in your location.
A. Alfalfa Hay
Alfalfa hay is a major goat food and is popular for its protein, vitamin and mineral content.
It has more protein, vitamins and minerals than grass-based hays.
It is encouraged for milking goats due to its high energy and calcium content.
Milk formation in goats requires protein therefore feeding alfalfa hay to pregnant or lactating goats is nice for milk production.
Alfalfa nutritional analysis
Crude protein: 19%
Crude Fiber: 26%
TDN is Total Digestible Nutrients; this is the sum of digestible fibre, protein, carbohydrate and lipid components of the diet.
B. Grass Hay
During browsing, goats eat not just shrubs or weeds; they also love to have time out with grass hays.
Grass hay is great for goats, especially when you are raising goats for meats purpose.
They are also cheap and readily available; you can easily source them during the offseason as well.
Grass hays can be fed to the goats fresh or dry; you can cut them out from the bush, dry and store them.
Ensure they are not dirty before feeding them to the goats.
When the goats are not able to forage, Chaffhaye is a good option though they do not contain all the necessary nutrients needed by goats.
But they carry appreciable protein and a good amount of other nutrients that can act as a supplement.
Chaffhaye is premature alfalfa or grass that has been cut early for feeding purposes.
How to prepare Chaffhaye for goats
- To prepare Chaffhaye, cut alfalfa or grass in their early growing stage, and then chop them into pieces.
- Spray Molasses on them and add a culture Bacillus Subtillis and vacuum seal it
- It will ferment inside the bag, the fermentation adds nutrients and makes the feed more digestible.
It is important to note that food with high digestibility is good for goats because they have a sensitive digestive system.
Difficulty in digesting any food can harm the goat, so easy to digest food are best for goats.
2. Goats eat Pasture Grasses and Forage
For anyone who rears goats on pastures, what do goats eat isn’t a question.
A pasture is a piece of land where grasses and legumes (forages) grow for animals to graze
Pasture feeding allows goats to move around and pick what to eat by themselves.
This is one of the best ways of raising goats because it provides the goat with a more balanced diet.
They are able to feed on different varieties of crops at the same time.
These crops have different levels of nutrients because they are manly grasses and legumes.
Goats need this nutrient for body maintenance, growth and productivity.
Some pastures for goats are Bahia grass, Clover, Sorghum, Sudan grass and Millet.
3. Goats eat Grains
Grains are an important part of the goat food list but they shouldn’t be the main goat food.
Grains should never be the main source of your goat food.
Grains should be fed to the goats only when you are unable to provide food for your goats.
They are used to fill feeding gaps while the main food is sourced.
So, they can also be an important part of your goat feed program.
They provide goats with the necessary energy and nourishment.
Grains are also good to supplement lactating does, especially when they contain up to 16% protein.
There are different kinds of grains that you can feed to goats, they include
Whole grains: Unprocessed grains that can be fed to goats as a treat.
Pelleted Grain: This is a mixed grain by-product bounded together into a pellet with a binding agent.
Other grains products you can feed goats are Corn, Barley, Wheat and Rolled grains
4. Goats eat Household products
Some edible household scraps have great nutritional value and are beneficial when fed to goats.
Products such as vegetables, fruits and other related materials are good as goat food.
These materials can be dried and housed making them last for a longer period of time.
They can be fed to goats anytime in fresh or dry form. Others such as human food remains can also be served.
They must be suitable for the goats, decayed food materials should be avoided at all costs.
They can be harmful to a goat’s digestive system.
5. Goats eat Food Peels
This is another important goat food, goats enjoy peels from cassava, orange, banana, tomatoes and many other edibles.
For example, cassava cover can be peeled and served to goats fresh or dried. These peels of great nutritional value to goats.
You can feed them to goats every day or once in two days or even weekly depending on how often they are available to you.
6. Water is also part of goat food
Water is an essential part of any livestock food; goat is not an exception to this.
So we can’t answer the what do goats eat question completely without mentioning water
Simply put, goat food list is not complete without water, it is important to supply water to the goats regularly.
Ensure that the water is clean and void of any acidic content.
Ensure there is water always in the goat house, change the water daily if possible, it promotes hygiene.
7. Goats eat Minerals Supplements
Goat minerals are supplements with high vitamins that are great for the development and growth of goats.
They are a very important part of goat food and should be part of your goat food program.
It enhances reproduction, optimal functioning of the body and promotes the performance of organs in goats.
If you rear goats for milk purposes, your goats need minerals more than meat goat farmers.
They are important in milk production in goats therefore, you need to supply your goats with these minerals.
8. Goats eat Formulated Feed
In other to ensure goats eat balanced diet, you may have to formulate your goat food by yourself.
This way you can ensure that the right proportion of every nutrient is present in the feed.
Goat feed formulation
To Formulate goat feed, you need to understand what the goats need and know the food material that can offer the desired nutrient.
For example Maize is a source of carbohydrate and carbohydrate is energy giving.
If you want your goats to gain energy from the feed you wish to formulate, you have to include maize in your goat feed formulation.
Each ingredient should be based on what you want the goats to benefit from the food.
If you desire to achieve an all protein containing feed.
Then the percentage of legumes or any protein giving food you wish to use should be high in the formula.
Goat feed formulation: A sample of goat feed formula
|Name of Ingredient||Quantity of Ingredient in Kg|
|Total in kg||100|
The above feed formula will give a feed with high carbohydrate.
8. Goats eat Baking soda
Goats lick baking soda when they are made available to them; it helps them keep a balanced pH in the rumen.
They are to be served to goats once in a while and not regularly.
Most times, especially when goats have eaten, they may not look the way of baking soda but eat them after some time.
Other goat foods are
9. Goats eat Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Black oil sunflower seeds are a great component of goat food.
They contain Vitamin E, zinc, iron and Selenium which increases the fat content of goats.
They also help in reproduction and muscle formation, therefore, feeding the goats with black oil sunflower seeds is greatly important.
10. Goats eat Kelp Meal
If you are raising goats for milk production, then you may want to try kelp meals as part of your goat food.
Kelp meal is essential for milk production and has high iodine content which is good for goats.
it is a good option for goats and will be a great addition to your goat food program.
11. Goats eat Beet Pulp
Beet pulp has high energy, protein and fibre content and can be eaten by goats as treat.
You can feed them to the goats from time to time to give them multiple food choices.
What is goat best food?
From all indications, goat best food is hays and pastures crops, depending on your location.
Goats generally love to be served hays, pastures and forage, vegetables and fruits are also appreciated by goats.
Peels especially from banana and cassava are also on the best goat food list.
What do goats drink?
Goats love to drink water, enough of it, it helps them in carrying out the regurgitation process.
They also drink water from vegetables and fruits and other edibles found around their environment.
They can take sweet drinks but it should be as a treat and should be once in a while not on regular basis.
What do goats eat in winter?
In the winter, the best food for goats is hay. Unfortunately, hays are not common during winter.
So you have to store enough hay in the summertime, enough to keep you through the winter season.
Ensure that the hays are of great quality and not moldy, Hays can be stored using different methods.
Whichever method best serves you, the quality of the hay and keeping them neat is all that matters to the goats.
When should goats eat?
Without access to pasture feeding, goats should be fed at least twice daily, on the other hand.
You can feed the goats once a day if they have access to pasture.
It is best to feed the goat in the morning and in the evening time but this may not be the case for your goats.
So, find out what works for your goats and follow what is best for them.
Do not forget that the quality of goat food is more important than the number of times the goats are fed.
How to change your goat diet
As stated earlier, it is wrong to change your goat diet without following a gradual process.
Simply put, never change your goat’s diet drastically. It may lead to an upset of the digestive system.
This can cause serious illness in goats and in the worst case, it may lead to death.
When changing your goat diet, start by adding a small amount of the new diet in their present food.
Observe their reaction to the new diet, if they react positively to the new diet.
Increase the quantity, follow it gradually and with time, they will get used to the new diet.
What to feed goat to gain weight
The best way to improve your goat weight is by properly feeding the goat, ensure that they are eating a balanced diet.
A properly fed goat is bound to gain weight naturally, so if you want your goat weight to increase.
Then, feed the goat properly.
Ensure they are fed with hays and pastures. Goats get all their nutrient when grazing freely on open pasture.
Provide the goat with adequate pasture and allow them to feed freely on the pasture always.
Provide the goats with quality supplements and water, water is an important part of goat food.
There should be clean water in the goat house at all times for the goats to drink.
Ensure the goat gets access to clean and fresh water after eating or browsing.
How do goats eat?
Goats eat by picking their food with their mouth, chewing begins immediately after picking the food.
Chewing helps to break the food down into small particles for proper digestion in the stomach.
What you shouldn’t feed goats
Here are list of what not to feed goats
1. Unhygienic food
You should never be found feeding your goats unhygienic foods.
As stated earlier, goats have a very sensitive digestive system.
It can be messed up by the intake of unhygienic foods. You should not feed such food to the goats.
2. Moldy Hay
Any moldy food, whether from silage, hay or other materials is harmful to the goat’s wellbeing.
Goats can get sick just from eating moldy food, so it is best to avoid them.
Silage is forage that is partially dried and cut into pieces, packed in an airtight container or bags and allowed to ferment.
If it is not properly bagged to restrain air, it can form mold easily, molds are dangerous to goats.
You should never feed such to the goats unless, by any means possible, they are made suitable for goats.
If otherwise, do not feed them to the goats.
Just like in other animals, pepper is harmful to goats and should be avoided in their food.
Adding pepper to goat food can lead to death especially when it is in excess.
You should be watchful of feeding goats materials from the kitchen in this regard.
5. Dog Feed
Your dog may be on a sweet diet but that still doesn’t make the dog food suitable for goats.
Goats and dogs have different nutritional needs and therefore should be on different nutritional programs.
Unless it is for learning purposes, it is better to avoid feeding your goats dog food than experiment and lose the goats.
6. Excessive grains
For the well-being of your goats, never put them on a diet of only grains.
Hay and pastures, vegetables should be the main food source for any goat.
Summary of What do goats eat?
Whether you are raising goats for milk or meat purposes, you need to understand what the goat needs most and why.
Goats have a sensitive digestive system and therefore are one food away from digestive complications
It is therefore important that you source answers to the question of what do goats eat before starting.
Avoid giving your goats unhealthy treats. Ensure you feed them with materials they love to take and are good for them.
You can always ascertain if your goats respond positively to any food material by first.
Adding little of such material to their food, their response will reveal to you if they love it or not.
You may find that your goats like vegetables, fruits and scraps, grasses and other pasture products.
Peels such as banana, cassava, orange and garden products are all good for goats.
Minerals and other supplements are also appreciated by goats
In cases where your goats respond negatively to any food item.
You can withdraw such items from their food.
You can also give them a handful of sweet feed, just be careful. Too much of it could be harmful.
Your goat food fundamental goal should be to provide what the goats enjoy eating which are good for their healthy living.
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