What to feed your goats
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Baby goats under 3 weeks old are fed only milk with access to alfalfa hay to practice eating. They won’t be able to actually digest the hay until they are 3+ weeks old so until then, milk is their only source of nutrition.
Alfalfa hay is the best hay for kids under 3 months old because the flakes are small and easy to eat. They will eventually be able to chew and eat the stem of the hay and can then be switched to a mixed hay if desired.
We recommend that non-breeding does be on a mix of grass and alfalfa by 6 months old. Straight alfalfa is too rich unless they are pregnant or in milk. Does not in milk should also avoid grains. A good treat for them is a mix of raw, unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Watch their weight since carrying extra weight will put a strain on their joints.
Bucks and wethers require a balanced diet or they increase the risk of urinary calculi (think kidney stones). The need a balanced 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. We feed our boys a 4-way mixed hay with 20% alfalfa and the rest is a mixture of grasses. Bucks, and wethers especially, do not require any grain and it can actually cause serious health issues long-term to feed it to them. A good treat for them is a mix of raw, unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
We do not recommend any pelleted goat feed as nearly all of these contain very processed grains. Please read ingredients carefully before feeding your goats anything new. While goats are known to “eat anything”, they are actually quite sensitive and can easily become ill if not carefully fed.
Some people prefer to feed their goats hay pellets because this can be an easier feed to transport and store than bales of hay. There tends to be a lot less waste feeding pellets as well. We do not use pellets and don’t recommend them except in circumstances where baled hay is unavailable or if they pellets are mixed with baled hay.
Goats have very specific mineral needs and require a goat specific loose mineral to be accessible at all times for them to free feed.
If you do need to feed grain to your goats in milk to occupy them on the milk stand and/or to increase their milk, we suggest buying whole grains and mixing your own. We like to use cracked corn, wheat, barley and oats. A wonderful addition to your homemade "sweet feed" is pumpkin seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. Be sure all of these seeds are raw and unsalted. They will eat this mixture up on its own or you can drizzle a little molasses over it in their feed bucket to sweeten things up. These extra calories and carbs will increase their milk supply and quality.
An average adult goat will eat about a half of a “flake” of alfalfa per day. Every area is different in the access to and cost of hay bales. Here in our area of northern Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley, bales of hay are about 100 lbs and cost from $15-20. Each of our bales of alfalfa have about 15-18 “flakes” and will feed one adult goat per month. So we average about $15-17 per goat, per month not including minerals and treats.