What to feed pet goats

white goat standing in an outdoor pen © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCAIf you're new to keeping goats as pets, here's what you need to know about what they need to eat and drink.

Food

Goats need a carefully balanced diet of high-quality hay, grass, 'browsings', and additional supplements. You should give them feed that's suitable for their age and breed, including:

  • Long, fibrous food, which they need for their rumen to work efficiently at digesting.
  • Supplementary foods - goats need a mineral salt lick to supplement their diet.
  • Concentrates - for growing or milking goats, or when additional forage is in short supply, the diet of bulk foods can be supplemented with a ration of concentrates.

Here are a few things to remember about feeding your goats:

  • Don't change foods suddenly - goats don't cope well with sudden changes to their diet.
  • Goats are browsing, not grazing, animals - they prefer not to eat anything that's been on the floor. You can use hayracks with a lid, positioned at a height where the hay can't be fouled, but never use hay nets, as goats can become dangerously entangled in them.
  • Give them enough space - there must be enough room for all the goats to feed at the same time without having to compete for space.      
  • Clean regularly - clean their food dispensers regularly.

Water

You'll also need to give your goats a constant supply of clean, fresh drinking water. Remember to clean their drinkers or bowls regularly, and remove ice during the winter (never use chemicals to do this).

Find out more in our introduction to goat welfare and ownership.

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