What to feed your goats

Goats are ruminants, which means they acquire nutrients from plants and vegetables by fermenting them in a specialised stomach prior to digestion. In total, they have four stomachs.

Provide your goats with fresh hay and water daily – these are essential for a healthy diet. Water should be in buckets or water tanks, with one in the shelter and a couple dotted around the field for hot days. Your buckets will need cleaning most days to avoid green algae building up. Your goats also need minerals, the easiest way to provide these is with a mineral lick.

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Goats love fruit and vegetables

Feed your goats daily with fruit and vegetables, chopped into sugar-cube-sized chunks. They only have bottom teeth since they lose their top teeth when they are young, so strips of fruit and vegetables are a struggle. They do have very tough tongues, hence their ability to consume brambles, twigs, sticks and bark. Most fruits and vegetables make great treats – hand feeding them is a great opportunity to bond with your goats.

Be aware that leeks and potatoes are poisonous to goats.

A goat cereal mix should not be fed as their main diet because it’s not nutritious and can cause urinary stones, especially in castrated male goats.

Supplement feeds

Healthy goats should not need to be given a supplement feed throughout the winter, but underweight or older goats will benefit from additional feeding. A portion of Alfa-A and Alfa-Beet is good for weight control. These are also high in fibre, which aids digestion.

Goats can be fussy eaters

Whatever you’re feeding your goats, use rubber bowls or scatter feed them in piles on the grass or on tables and activities, Goats are very fussy eaters and will not eat feed that is dirty or has been trampled on the floor.

Some plants are poisonous to goats

Keep an eye on which plants your goats have access to. There are a number of poisonous plants, which can cause your goats various health issues and even be fatal. If they don’t have access to plants and you forage on their behalf, use a pocket-sized guide to make sure you get the right ones.

Plants to keep away from your goats:

  • Bracken
  • Buttercups (in large quantities)
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Ivy
  • Nightshade
  • Acorns
  • Ragwort - if you have any growing on your land, pick it from the root to prevent growth and spread
  • Rhubarb
  • Yew
  • Tomato plant
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes

Plants that are safe for your goats:

  • Willow
  • Hawthorn
  • Blackberry bramble bushes
  • Honeysuckle
  • Nettles
  • Fruit woods such as plum and apple
  • Wild rose – entire plant
  • Clover (small amounts)
  • Melon
  • Kale
  • Raw pasta as a treat
  • Carrot
  • Pear
  • Orange