Goat Husbandry - Feed



  • Always make sure that your goat has fresh, clean water available.
  • Feeding good quality hay is usually sufficient to sustain your goat, but goats may need supplemental feeding sometimes, especially during the winter.
  • Goats need energy. They get energy from eating a proper balance of roughage and grain, as well as protein, vitamins, minerals, and clean water.
  • Minerals need to be available at all times. You can feed calcium, phosphorous, and trace minerals in a salt mixture to ensure that the animals actually eat them.
  • Goats can be picky eaters, and they may not immediately accept new feeds. Any feed changes should be made gradually to avoid upsetting the rumen microflora.
  • Adult meat goats should be fed no more than 1% of their bodyweight in supplemental grain and lactating (actively producing milk) does can be fed up to 1.5% of their bodyweight, but no more than that.
  • Grain should never be more than 50% of the total diet. Feeding high levels of grain can upset the rumen and cause acidosis.
  • Acidosis: the rumen pH drops and rumen motility (natural movement) will decrease. The goat will usually stop eating (or barely eat), have diarrhea, and show signs of depression for a couple of days. In severe cases, acidosis can cause death. If you know an animal has consumed too much grain, you can treat it with an antacid (sodium bicarbonate). Call your veterinarian for help.

Below are a few pictures of feeders and waters that some people use for their goats.



Photo coming soon

Automatic Waterer
Photo courtesy of Triple-T Ranch

Rubber Feed Pans
Makes nice beds, too!
Photo courtesy of Triple-T Ranch

PVC Feeders
Directions to make one
Photo courtesy of Blue Bird Acres

Converted Horse Stall Feeder
Photo courtesy of Triple-T Ranch

Half Plastic Barrel with
Automatic Float

Photo courtesy of Ancient Valley Ranch




  • Forage is plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing livestock
  • Includes grasses, wild grains, legumes (herbaceous and tree), brambles (blackberry and raspberry bushes), and shrubs.
  • The quality of this feed, as well as the nutritional value will depend on the variety of foraging material available and the age of the plants when eaten.


  • A pasture is an area of land that contains forage growth where animals may graze
  • Pastures are economical because they are relatively inexpensive to maintain and may provide high quality protein and vitamins and minerals, as well as carbohydrates (cellulose)
  • Pastures are the major feed source in the U.S. for goats
  • May be permanent, rotated, or temporary pastures


  • Hay is any green forage that is grown, harvested, and then preserved for later use by dehydrating to less than 15% moisture content
  • Nutrient content and palatability can be affected by the plant species, physiological stage at cutting, handling and weather damage
  • Hay is an important energy source for goats
  • Alfalfa accounts for the majority of hay in the US, but a wide variety of grasses, legumes and cereal grain crops can be used
  • Hay can be fed as rolled bales, square bales, cubes, or ground meal


  • Called “Pasture-in-a-Bag.”
  • Alfalfa and Bermuda hays are harvested and chopped
  • Lightly misted with molasses
  • Enriched it with yeast, enzymes and beneficial microflora (bacillus subtillis and aspergillus niger) that aid digestion as well as absorption of its nutrients by the animal
  • Individually packed into air-tight packages to lock in freshness
  • A natural fermentation transforms the raw alfalfa into a digestible forage
  • Soft, easy to chew
  • Free of dust and mold

GRAINS and more


  • Widely grown
  • Bulky and palatable
  • Higher protein than most grains
  • Usually rolled, crimped or ground for feeding
  • Lower energy density than corn and wheat
  • Excellent for young animals starting on feed


  • Contains more protein, lysine and fiber than corn
  • Very palatable
  • Good feed for all species
  • Usually steam rolled, crimped or coarsely ground for feeding
  • Less energy dense than corn and wheat


  • Most extensively produced feed grain
  • Most widely used and best energy feed
  • High in starch but low in protein and fiber
  • Very palatable
  • Low in Lysine
  • The primary grain fed to finish goats on feed


  • Commonly used in grains
  • Extremely palatable and an excellent energy source
  • Quality is determined by sugar content
  • Can be dried or liquid form
  • Can be cane, beet, citrus or wood molasses
  • Frequently used in diets for young animals being introduced to dry feeds

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