Goats, though popularly thought of as animals with cast iron stomachs that can eat absolutely everything and survive, are actually fairly particular eaters.
They have specific, even difficult nutritional requirements, and require a diet that is varied while checking all the boxes off their list of needed vitamins and minerals.
Accordingly, finding Mainstays that they can eat regularly with no ill effects is difficult. How about alfalfa? Can goats eat alfalfa?
Yes, goats can eat alfalfa and it is excellent for their overall health. Alfalfa can feature as a regular staple in a goat’s diet and will supply a wide variety of vitamins and minerals with plenty of protein. Alfalfa can be fed to goats as sprouts or as a component in dried feed or pellets.
That is good to know. Alfalfa has been used as livestock feed around the world for ages now, and it continues to be a cornerstone in the diet of many animals.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about feeding alfalfa to goats.
Health Benefits of Alfalfa for Goats
There is so much good news about alfalfa as goat feed. It is packed with protein, some carbohydrates, and lots of water, making it easy for goats to eat and digest. It also contains a bevy of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 are all present, as is folate. Alfalfa also contains a surprisingly high amount of vitamin C and vitamin K.
Together, these vitamins are responsible for cellular health and function, the maintenance of organ tissue, the destruction of free radicals in the body, the production of new DNA, and also the uptake of calcium.
Speaking of minerals, there is more good news to share on that front.
Alfalfa is highly complete concerning minerals that goats need, with calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc all being well represented. It also contains a little bit of potassium, and hardly any sodium to speak of.
And once again, alfalfa is complete enough and easy enough to digest that it can feature as a regular staple in a goat’s diet.
It shouldn’t be the only thing they eat, but it can be fed to them regularly enough that you can depend on it to keep your goats happy and healthy.
Can Goats Eat Alfalfa Raw?
Yes, goats can and will happily eat alfalfa raw. In many ways, this is the ideal way for them to eat it, as it will have maximum nutrition and is likely to be of a form that is easy for them to digest.
Can Goats Eat Alfalfa Pellets
Yes, goats can eat alfalfa pellets, or other goat feed containing a high portion of alfalfa.
Although the cooking and processing of alfalfa needed to render it in this form are it certain to reduce the nutritional content somewhat, it is a great and convenient way to get more alfalfa into your herd’s diet.
Can Goats Eat Alfalfa Cooked?
Yes, goats may eat cooked alfalfa, if you want to go through the trouble of cooking it for them.
However, this is not necessary and as mentioned above cooking does reduce the nutritional content of alfalfa somewhat.
Never Feed Alfalfa to Goats that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are on the subject of cooking, remember that you must never feed alfalfa to your goats that have been prepared with any other harmful ingredients they shouldn’t have, or has itself been used as an ingredient in some other food that isn’t good for them.
Things like excess grains, meat, oils, and so forth are all bad for goats and will invariably lead to significant trouble.
Complications that arise from eating such things may prove fatal, typically in the form of digestive shutdown or inflammation of the intestines.
If you’re going to feed your goats cooked alfalfa, it should be whole and undoctored with any other ingredients, or else prepared as part of a feed that is approved and safe for goats to eat.
How Often Can Goats Have Alfalfa?
Goats can have alfalfa pretty regularly, although it should not be the only thing that they eat.
It does belong in the primary or staple category of a goat’s diet, however, and is an excellent supplement to hay, silage or grass.
In fact, using alfalfa to cut or bulk up any of the other food sources mentioned is a great idea and will help ensure that your goats are getting all of the vitamins and minerals that they need, along with a good shot of protein.
And keep in mind that as good as alfalfa is, it is not nutritionally complete and goats cannot live on it alone.
Most goats really like it, and considering the nutritional profile it is tempting to lean on alfalfa heavily, especially if it is convenient and cheap where you live.
Don’t give into this temptation, and ensure that your goats get a well-rounded diet.
Preparing Alfalfa for Your Herd
When serving alfalfa to your goats, how you choose to serve it is largely dependent upon the form.
Pellets or other feed containing alfalfa can be given in troughs or other containers according to how you usually dispense such food.
Sprouted alfalfa can be given mixed in with other items or scattered for goats to eat at their leisure.
Can Baby Goats Have Alfalfa, Too?
Yes, baby goats can have alfalfa so long as they are old enough to eat solid food all the time.
If your kids are still suckling, or if they are rejecting solid food even part of the time, you’ll want to wait for them to grow up a little bit before you start giving them alfalfa as a regular part of their diet.
Something else to keep in mind is that kids have highly particular nutrition requirements, and combined with their rapidly growing and developing systems, introducing any novel food, even one as healthy and dependable as alfalfa, might cause them some intestinal distress.
As always, keep an eye on kids after giving them any new food for the first time.
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.