If you are a goat owner who also has chickens on your property, you have certainly noticed that chickens are reprobate food thieves, and will happily steal some feed from any of the other animals that they can reach.
You might also think that turnabout is fair play, and perhaps your goats might like a little bit of the chicken feed you serve your flock. But can they have it? Can goats safely eat chicken feed?
No, goats cannot eat chicken feed. Goats and chickens have entirely different nutritional requirements. At best chicken feed will not give goats what they need to thrive, and at worst can cause illness or harm them.
Though a few bites of chicken feed are unlikely to have any ill effect on a goat, ingesting a large portion or eating it over time will cause problems.
At first glance, you might think that chicken feed could somehow be okay for goats, but this just is not the case, sadly.
You don’t need to freak out if your goats have a few bites of chicken feed that is left lying around, but you don’t want to make it a point to deliberately feed it to them.
Keep reading to learn why chicken feed is a no-go for goats.
Chickens and Goats Have Very Different Diets
Unfortunately, though chickens can partake of goat feed with little or no issue, the reverse is not true.
Goats and chickens have entirely different biology, and drastically different nutritional requirements.
Chickens are omnivorous, and although they eat a lot of plant matter in their diet, they also eat quite a bit of meat, including insects.
Goats, on the other hand, are entirely herbivorous, meaning they eat nothing but plant matter and never any meat.
the simple fact of the matter is it a goat’s system flat out cannot cope with meat, and trying to do so will either mean they get no nutrition from it whatsoever or, at worst, they could be made severely sick.
chicken feed is invariably comprised of both plant and meat sources, meaning if your goats eat chicken feed they’re going to be eating some type of animal product, protein, fat and other stuff. That’s not good for a goat.
A Few Bites are Unlikely to Cause Harm
Now, there’s no reason to panic if your goats managed to get a little bit of chicken feed. These things happen on farms and homesteads alike.
A few nibbles aren’t going to make your goats grow feathers or drop dead.
If you notice that a given goat swipes a bite or two, make it a point to just keep an eye on them and see if they suffer any ill effects, but they probably won’t.
You should only worry if a goat has a large portion of chicken feed or is fed chicken feed over a longer period of time regularly.
Regular Ingestion of Chicken Feed Will Cause Illness in Goats
While chickens are small, and so is their food, while goats are quite a bit larger. They can probably get away with a bite or two, right? Right.
However, regular ingestion, or eating a large portion, is likely to cause illness in a goat.
Digestive system upset is a certainty, everything from diarrhea and vomiting to possible inflammation of the intestines.
Although it might just sound like an upset tummy to you, any of those possibilities carry with it the risk of death due to complications.
Even if a given goat can eat chicken feed with seemingly no ill effects, it will start to degrade their health over time, either through malnutrition or the accumulation of harmful byproducts.
There are just no two ways about it. Goats should not ever have chicken feed in any quantity.
How Often Can Goats Have Chicken Feed?
Goats should not eat chicken feed. I’m not going to tell you that they can have a given amount in a given period of time safely, because this invites that sort of behavior.
As detailed above, a tiny portion that is accidentally eaten is no cause for alarm concerning adult goats.
That being said, there is not a schedule under which you can give your goats chicken feed as a treat to supplement their usual diet.
Can Baby Goats Have Chicken Feed, Too?
No, baby goats should never have chicken feed. Kids have sensitive systems because they are still growing, and often at a prodigious rate.
Their nutritional requirements are intense, and they aren’t going to get any of it from chicken feed.
Even worse, they are likely more sensitive to the harmful effects that chicken feed can cause and goats.
Make it a point to keep baby goats well away from any food that they should not eat, especially chicken feed.
What Should You Do If Your Goats Eat Chicken Feed?
Okay, so let us say that your goats have gotten into the chicken feed, and not just a few bites. As far as you’re concerned, they had a big party and chowed down on the stuff. Now what?
The answer is simple: call your veterinarian and follow their advice.
They’ll probably want to know what kind of feed it was, the species of your goat, how old they are, they’re overall health and so forth.
Depending on the intersection of these factors they might advise you to observe, withhold food, or something else.
They might want you to bring in the goat or goats, or else make a house call out to your property.
Whatever the case, simply follow their instructions, but make it a point to prevent this from happening in the future.
Either shore up your gates and fences or place the chicken feed in a place where the goats have no chance of access.
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.