Feeding Nature
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What Do Goats Eat?

 

Goats are part of the Bovidae animal family and these animals are closely related to sheep.  Goats are found all over the world.  Domestic goats used for agricultural purposes are subspecies of the wild goat but they all belong to the same animal family.  

There are more than 300 distinct goat breeds and these animals are used for their milk, meat, fur, and skin.  These animals are fairly easy to raise and can be successfully kept as pets or livestock. 

 

What Do Goats Eat?

All goat species and breeds are herbivores.  They consume only plant matter and don’t require any meat source to survive.  There is a bit of confusion going on about the type of foods goats eat because they can consume virtually any type of plant matter but do prefer certain plants over others.  

These animals will get all their needed vitamins, minerals, and even protein by consuming various plant food types like the following;

 

Weeds

Goats love to feed on leafy plants.  They enjoy eating a huge variety of plant types and they are quite resistant to plant toxins.  Where sheep may avoid consuming weeds, goats enjoy eating these foods.  They will consume just about any type of weed and often prefer weeds above grassy plants.

 

Vines

These animals will consume almost any type of vine plant they can find.  Vine plants usually offer lots of tasty green leaves to munch on and there are not too many vine varieties that can harm their bodies.  Goats will feed on vine plants like kudzu they find in the wild but they also enjoy consuming agricultural vine plants like grape or passion fruit vines.

 

Woody shrubs

These animals enjoy eating the leaves of many types of woody shrubs they can find.  They are pretty resistant to the stings of shrubs and enjoy eating tiny to large leaves of these shrubs.  Goats may choose to consume some twigs from these shrubs but they mainly focus on leaves.

 

Tree leaves

Goats will also consume a wide range of tree leave they find that are non-toxic.  They do prefer a sweeter leave type and will avoid consuming bitter leaves like the leaves of green tea plants.  Typically, they only feed on green leaves but they can also consume dry leaves if times are harsh.

 

Seeds

These animals will consume most types of seeds they find in the wild.  They also enjoy eating a huge variety of agricultural seeds such as grain, oats, corn, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.

 If you do choose to offer seeds to your goats then you should be careful not to offer too much.  Some seed types, like corn seeds, are very healthy in limited quantities but if a goat consumes too much corn seeds in a single sitting, they can die.  This is because the goat’s digestive system is designed to ferment plant matter to digest and draw nutrients from these foods.  Too much corn seeds will release too much gass in your goat’s tummy and can result in death.

 

Fruits and vegetables

Goats love to eat fruits and veggies.  They will eat all sorts of fruits and veggies such as carrots, salad, herbs, oranges, lemons, peaches, raisins, grapes, and many others.  They also enjoy munching on the leaves of fruit and veggie plants and enjoy eating any type of leafy green vegetables they can find.

 

Grain

0 – 10% of a goat’s diet consists of grains.  They do not rely on these foods to survive but grains can offer goats lots of extra vitamins and minerals.  Many farmers choose to offer grains in winter times to supplement goats.  Grains can also be a good supplement after birthing and while eves are still taking care of their lambs.  

 

Pasture or hay

Goats don’t particularly enjoy eating grassy hay or yellow straw hay.  They are however quite fond of hay types like alfalfa, timothy, or Bermuda.  Goats can consume hay straight from the bale and they are especially fond of eating compressed hay pallets.  

 

Pallets

Herbivore pellets are a very tasty treat for goats. These animals can consume all types of herbivore pellets including pellets designed for wild game.  Pellets are a good supplement to offer young goats, underweight animals, or pregnant goats.

 

Minerals

Some farmers choose to offer their goats extra minerals by adding these mixtures to the goat’s water. 

Minerals like salt and calcium can also be offered as a lick in the goat’s kraal.  These animals love to nibble on minerals and offering minerals can reduce a goat’s tendency to nibble on non-food objects.

 

Human and pet foods

Domesticated goats can grow quite fond of human foods.  They enjoy eating cereals, bread, cookies, porridge, and many other human foods.  Some of these foods are perfectly fine when offered in limited quantities but others may contain ingredients that are toxic to a goat’s digestive system.  

These curious animals will also consume the food of other pets and farm animals.  They enjoy eating chicken pellets and feeds, pig feeds, dog pellets, and a great many other foods.  It is perfectly fine for a goat to consume these foods in limited quantities. 

Some food types like dog food might contain too much protein which is why you should keep an eye on your goats if they do have access to dog feeders.

 

Goat Diet Variations

It is important to monitor a goat’s diet and environment carefully.  These herbivores are curious creatures and have been known to chew on just about anything they can find.  Goats will chew on clothing, plastic, rubber, bones, twigs, branches, and many other non-food objects out of sheer curiosity.  

It is very important to keep your goat’s grazing environment free from pollutants so these animals won’t try to consume these toxic items.  

A goat’s digestive system is also pretty tough.  These animals are known to consume some poisonous plants without any negative side effects.  There are however a few plants that can be poisonous to goats.  

 

How to feed Goats

Goats are very easy to feed.  From a very early age, they will nibble and chew on anything they find.  If they find food tasty, they will eat these treats.

For the most part, goats are not too aggressive or dangerous.  If you do encounter a wild goat or a goat that might be protective of her lambs you can get knocked with their horns when they attack.  Goats are however not very likely to cause severe damage to adults but children might be at risk of getting head injuries.

These animals can be fed with ease by simply adding foods to their feeding cribs.  If a goat isn’t eager to consume tasty foods then it is likely ill.  

Goats usually spend 4 – 6 hours grazing.  These animals can get all their needed minerals and nutrients from plant matter. 

In the dry season, it can be a good idea to offer concentrated feeds to your goats since feed might be limited.

 

How much do Goats eat?

If you are offering concentrated feeds to your goats, you can offer 400g of these foods per adult goat. 

It is always best to offer a mixture of concentrated feeds so your goats will get enough protein and vitamins.  

Many farmers add a spoon of salt and vitamin mixtures to concentrated feeds to ensure that these animals stay healthy.  You can also offer foods like fishmeal, soya bean meals, molasses, and other as licks to boost the energy levels of your goats.

 

What do baby goats eat?

Baby goats are called kids.  These mammals rely on their mother’s milk for survival.  Orphaned kids can be successfully raised on cow’s milk as long as the kid receives a little bit of colostrum on the first day of its life.  

A young kid can feed 4 – 5 times per day from their mothers.  As the kid grows, it will consume more milk per feeding and it will require milk less often.  A young kid aged 1 – 3 days will consume 150ml milk 4 times per day.  A kid aged 2 – 8 weeks will consume 1l milk twice a day. 

By the time it is 8 weeks old, it will only need 500mls of milk per day.  At this point, the kid is ready for weaning.

Kids start to eat solid foods at three weeks old.  They will start by nibbling on leaves and will gradually increase their food consumption until they are ready to be weaned at 8 weeks old.  By this time, kids will consume the same foods as adult goats and they will be able to get enough food in a day to continue to grow healthy and strong.  

 

What do wild goats eat?

Wild goats can only feed on plants available in their environment.  They will consume just about any type of plant including some poisonous species.  Their bodies can handle a huge variety of food types and in harsh conditions; goats may even try to consume dry foods like dry hay or plant roots.  

 

What do you feed a goat?

You can feed a pet goat almost any type of plant matter you find in and around the house. 

Goats love to nibble on all sorts of leaves, weeds, flowering plants, brushes, grains, veggies, and fruits.  

Many goat owners also enjoy offering their pet goats occasional treats. Goats love to eat foods like cereal, porridge, bread, oats, grains, cookies, rusks, fruits, vegetables, and many other human foods.  If you are offering baked foods, you should remember to offer these foods in limited quantities.

If there isn’t too much food for your goat to graze on then you should also offer hay.  Goats need 90% plant foods to stay healthy and they are perfectly fine to survive on hay like alfalfa.  

In wintertime or while your goat is pregnant you can also offer mineral licks or concentrated feeds to help your goat stay healthy and full of energy.

 

What vegetables can Goats eat?

Goats will eat any type of vegetable they can find.  They are especially fond of green leafy vegetables like herbs, spinach, cabbage, and salad.  They will also eat beet greens, carrots, onion leaves, potato leaves, and many others. 

Goats may choose to eat pumpkins and potatoes but, as far as veggies go, these are not their absolute favorite treats.  

 

What should goats not eat?

Goats are quite resistant to many poisonous plants.  There are however a few plant types that they should not eat.  Toxic plants like azaleas, china berries, sumac, dog fennel, bracken fern, honeysuckle, and others can be poisonous to your goat.  These animals are not likely to eat these foods unless they are starving.

Some human foods like bread can contain ingredients that are not ideal for a goat’s digestive system. It is best to only offer human foods in limited quantities.  

Grains should also be offered in limited quantities to prevent your goats from becoming too swollen when these foods start to ferment in one of their many stomachs.  

 

What can I feed a male goat?

Male goats can eat the same foods as any female goat.  They consume just about all types of plant matter including seeds and some roots. 

If you want to give your goat ram a boost in energy or boost its weight, then you can offer it additional concentrated feeds, herbivore pellets, fruits, veggies, or a little bit of grain every day.

 

Conclusion

Goats are fairly easy to keep and maintain because they have such a diverse diet.  These animals are eager to eat and they do so enjoy occasional treats such as fruits and grains.  

If you want to keep your goats as healthy as possible then it is best to ensure that your goat gets plentiful plant matter to eat.  It is also important to offer the correct supplementary foods during wintertime and especially if an eve is pregnant or raising kids.  

With the right foods and proper care, your goats will stay as healthy as can be and you as a pet owner or farmer will reap all the benefits that these loving and friendly animals have to offer.