As any chicken owner will tell you, chickens are omnivores, and also slightly notorious as relentless thieves of other animals’ food around the homestead.
Much of the time this doesn’t cause any harm but it does beg the question if you can supplement your chickens’ diet with other types of animal feed. How about goats? Can chickens have goat feed?
Yes, chickens can eat goat feed, but they generally shouldn’t eat it. Pretty much every type of goat feed is nutritionally incomplete for chickens, and some pellets may contain minerals that can be harmful to chickens, and difficult to digest.
It’s not much to worry about if your chickens steal a few bites of food from your goats, or scarf up a little bit that you spill, but you don’t want to make a point of treating them with goat feed or allowing them to eat it regularly.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about goat feed and chickens.
Mixed Grain Feed is Okay, Pellets Generally are Not
Not all goat feed is created equal, just like not all chicken feed is created equal. Different ingredients, styles, types and more means there’s quite a bit of variety out there.
Goat feed it typically comes in the form of whole or processed grains, or pellets. In the case of the former, chickens will be able to pick out what bits and pieces they like and eat them without much problem, even if they aren’t particularly good for them.
In the case of the latter, however, the hard, dense pellets are both too large and too indigestible for chickens to eat them, especially if they’re going to eat them often.
Now, due to their size and density chickens might ignore them, or they might not, in which case you should try to prevent them from eating goat pellets.
In any case, you definitely don’t want to deliberately serve goat pellets to your chickens, and you should only sparingly give them a little bit of mixed grain goat feed if you give them any at all.
Most Goat Feed is only Modestly Nutritious for Chickens
Goat feed is, as you’d expect, great for goats but it is pretty lackluster for chickens. Right up front, goat feed lacks much of the protein that chickens need and furthermore goats are herbivores where chickens are omnivores.
Accordingly, goat feed is made up pretty much entirely of plant matter and other supplemental items with no meat or insect matter present that chickens need. Goat feed also lacks the grit that chickens need in their diet.
That being said, most of the ingredients that are present in typical goat feed are not harmful for chickens, but they definitely won’t be getting all the nutrition they need from it.
How Often Can Chickens Have Goat Feed?
You generally don’t want to give your chickens goat feed regularly or as a treat. Yes, a little bit won’t harm them, that’s true, but you don’t want to make a habit of feeding them something like that.
If you do want to toss your chickens a little bit of goat feed as a treat or because you have some handy and it is convenient, you’ll want to limit this to perhaps a small amount once a week, and no more.
Don’t Panic if Your Chickens Get into a Little Goat Feed
If your chickens are able to pick up a few scraps here and there that the goats drop or don’t get to, that’s probably nothing to worry about, but if they routinely break into the goats food you’ll need to take measures to stop them; regular ingestion can lead to nutritional deficiencies and other problems.
Can Baby Chicks Have Goat Feed, Too?
Baby chicks should not be fed goat feed in any form.
Though it is true they are capable of eating some of the ingredients in mixed grain goat feed, pellets are entirely out of the question.
In any case, filling up on the comparatively lackluster goat feed will prevent them from eating their starter feed that they desperately need when they are young and growing.
Don’t feed chicks goat feed, and try to take pains to prevent them from getting into it when you can.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.