This advice does not replace that of a Veterinarian! Please consult with your Vet if you have ANY questions about this post, what to feed or how to feed your animals!
Goats can live a very happy and comfortable life with no hay, grain, alfalfa, beet pulp or other feed from humans. BUT you better live in an area where they have 24/7/365 days of green browse to eat. It’s one of those sayings, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” And that is exactly why I wanted to give you a rough estimate of how much grain to give goats. But also some other things to increase their body condition.
When to Start Adding Commercial Grains
There are several situations in which I would consider adding commercial grains to your feed rations and I will explain each one in depth.
- Body Condition- This is the most important in my opinion. If you have a goat that is thin, the first thing you need to do is get a fecal to make sure that their skinny-ness isn’t due to a high parasite load. A visit to the vet could also be in order to make sure they don’t have an illness that would keep them from gaining weight. Regardless, they need more groceries. But you want to make sure that you take care of any parasites that are stealing the nutrition or start a treatment on the goat so they can uptake those nutrients properly. I am currently writing a post about how to judge body condition, so stay tuned.
- Reduced Browse- Goats love to eat browse and will travel far and wide for it. At least until it runs out. Or unless they are spoiled rotten like our girls. Then they want their morning grain, afternoon grain and evening grain.
- Pregnant or Lactating Does- Much like human women, pregnant does need more feed to make sure that they not only maintain good body condition, but also ensure the kids are healthy.
- Winter- If you live in an area that actually has seasons, winter can be harsh for your goats. Rarely are they going to get enough nutrition from hay alone. So making sure they have quality feed is extremely important.
What Kind Of Grain To Give Goats
As much as I want this answer to be cut and dry, and to provide you a link, that’s just not the case. First and foremost, this is solely based on your area and your goats. For us, we use Tucker Milling Dairy Goat in the pink bag. BUT if you don’t live in the southeast, you’re going to have a hard time finding that. So what can you do? Read the label.
You are looking for a grain that has ammonium chloride to help prevent and break up urinary calculi.
You also need to make sure that it is balanced with the right calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1 to 4:1 (C:P). To give you an example of what you are looking for check out the photo below.
If you read the ingredients, you will see that it’s got a bunch of good minerals, ammonium chloride and a C:P of about 2:1 to 4:1. This is a decent to good feed. The protein is a little low for dairy or meat goats but not absolutely terrible. We will feed this feed if our regular feed store ran out of our normal feed.
This feed, isn’t really that great. The C:P is about 1: .6. I was unable to see if it had ammonium chloride, the copper is a little low, the C:P isn’t great either.
But don’t fear! There are things you can do to increase your calcium and protein so that you can get a better mix for healthier goats.
Fixing Commercial Feeds
Sometimes, we just have to make do with what we can find. Whether that is financially because feed is freaking expensive, or supply issues. So what can you do? You can mix your own feeds without going broke. Here’s the jist:
Say you can only find the second bag of feed. One way to raise the C:P is to add in Alfalfa Pellets. Adding in an equal scoop of alfalfa pellets will put you somewhere around 3:1 to 4:1. You can also add in a SMALL amount of beet pulp.
Another thing that you may find is that your feed has too much calcium which is equally as bad, though for different reasons. The biggest being abnormal bone growth and throw their electrolytes out of whack. To fix feed that is too high in calcium is add in small amounts of barley, oats or BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds).
So How Much Grain To Give Goats?
If you look back on my post about How Much Hay Does Your Goat Need, you’ll see that I said about 2-4% of their body weight per day. Well, goats don’t need that much grain. In fact, that could probably kill them. BUT a good rule of thumb to get started is about 1# of grain per day. Now that being said, don’t just start giving your goat a pound of grain every day. They will scour (diarrhea). The best thing to do is give them a handful to start and slowly work your way up.
Be warned, once you start giving them grain, they will think they are starving to death if you don’t give them the amount THEY want. Stay strong, they don’t need an entire bag, despite what they say.
The Grain Ration We Give To Our Goats
Regardless of the reason we are giving grain to our goats, the ration looks something like this:
3 quarts of Tucker Milling Dairy Goat Feed (pink bag)
.5# Beet Pulp (dry)
They also have almost free choice of alfalfa pellets and Bermuda/ fescue hay.
They also get free choice goat minerals.
Most Important Takeaways
- Calcium to Phosphorus ratio MUST be at least 2:1 to 4:1.
- Buck CAN have grain IF the calcium to phosphorus ratios are at least 2:1 to 4:1. Bucks are more prone to Urinary Calculi due to having a smaller urinary tract. It is usually caused by too much phosphate salts in the urine.
- Balanced over time is okay as long as you are making sure to actually keep it balanced over time.
- Invest in good scoops! This weight scoop is fantastic for making sure that you are not over doing feed. These scoops are practically indestructible. I mean obviously they can break, but ours haven’t yet and it’s been over a year.
- Grain is great but too much is just as bad. So make sure you are paying attention to your animals.
- Find a local feed store! We save SO much money every month by going to a local feed store than a large chain store. The average bag of feed is usually $15/ 50# bag vs $25/50# from TSC. That’s chicken and goat feeds. When we buying about 25 bags of feed a month, that’s a lot of money.
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