Can Goats Eat Horse Feed?

Huh? That doesn’t even sound right. Horse feed is made for horses not goats, isn’t it? I sure as heck thought so, which is why I was shocked when I got a question about goats eating horse feed from an expert equestrian.

Can goats eat horse feed? While it is possible to feed horse feed to your goats, it is not recommended. Horses and goats have different dietary needs. Horse feed is designed only to meet the needs of horses. Goats require specific amounts of nutrients in their diet and horse feed does not appropriately provide them. For the goat’s best nutritional needs, always purchase goat feeds or pellets.

Horse feed generally includes alfalfa and other grains, while goat food contains hay and grains

Goats are quite sturdy animals that can eat a large amount of food without any adverse effects. And if their daily diet does not meet their nutritional needs, it takes a long time for the symptoms to show.

Therefore, you should be extremely careful about what you’re feeding them if you want them to have a long and happy life. In this article, we will talk about different aspects of feeding horse feed to goats.

The nutritional requirement of goats

Many pet owners tend to believe that feeding goats is a fairly simple task.

However, there’s a fine line between simply feeding them and providing them with a nutrient-dense diet that can help them grow and stay healthy. And as a pet parent to a goat, it should be your responsibility to do the latter.

Below, we have curated a table that contains information about the basic nutritional requirement of goats per their body weight. Check it out:

Body WeightDry MatterTotal Digestible NutrientsTotal ProteinCalciumPhosphorusVitamin AVitamin E
22 lbs0.63 lbs0.35 lbs0.05 lbs0.002 lbs0.002 lbs400 IU84 IU
45 lbs1.08 lbs0.59 lbs0.08 lbs0.002 lbs0.002 lbs700 IU144 IU
67 lbs1.46 lbs0.8 lbs0.11 lbs0.004 lbs0.003 lbs900 IU195 IU
90 lbs1.81 lbs0.99 lbs0.14 lbs0.004 lbs0.003 lbs1200 IU243 IU
112 lbs2.13 lbs1.17 lbs0.17 lbs0.007 lbs0.005 lbs1400 IU285 IU
134 lbs2.44 lbs1.34 lbs0.19 lbs0.007 lbs0.005 lbs1600 IU327 IU
157 lbs2.76 lbs1.5 lbs0.21 lbs0.009 lbs0.006 lbs1800 IU369 IU
179 lbs3.05 lbs1.66 lbs0.23 lbs0.009 lbs0.006 lbs2000 IU408 IU
202 lbs3.32 lbs1.81 lbs0.26 lbs0.009 lbs0.006 lbs2200 IU444 IU
224 lbs3.58 lbs1.96 lbs0.28 lbs0.11 lbs0.008 lbs2400 IU480 IU
132 lbs3.7 lbs67.5 lbs12.4 lbs0.49 lbs0.24 lbs1378 IU7 IU

Problems with feeding horse feed to goats

After going through the table, we have a better idea about what the goats need from a healthy diet. It is now time for us to move on and talk about whether feeding them horse feed can meet all these needs.

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There are a couple of major differences between the diet of horses and goats, so using horse feed as a staple diet of the goats can be problematic.

Let’s find out what these differences are:

Deficiency of protein

Many of you might not know this, but horses have the capability of synthesizing microbial amino acids in their cecum and large intestines.

The protein they synthesize can sustain them easily under normal circumstances, which is why they have little dependence on their diet for this nutrient.

However, this is not true for pregnant, lactating, or growing horses; they need supplementary protein to function efficiently. Keeping in mind their needs, horse feed contains a lesser percentage of crude protein.

On the other hand, goats need a large amount of protein (a minimum of 7% crude protein) in their diet to help them in reproduction, hair production, lactation, and maintenance. Moreover, protein plays a key role in their immune health as well.

So, if goats keep eating horse feed, they will soon suffer from a deficiency of this nutrient, which can lead to the following health problems:

  • Reduced appetite and lower feed intake
  • Lack of muscle development
  • A prolonged time to reach maturity in the kids
  • Decreased milk production in the lactating mothers

Too much copper

Copper is an indispensable mineral in the diet of both horses and goats. However, horses require a higher amount of copper than goats. This is why the concentration of this mineral is higher in horse feeds than in goat feeds.

Feeding horse feed to goats too often can lead to Toxic Copper Poisoning, a condition common among goats and sheep. Some of the common symptoms of Toxic Copper Poisoning in goats are:

  • Dehydration
  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness and panting

Is it a good idea to have a mixed flock of horses and goats?

Most people who are curious about feeding horse feed to goats, or the other way round, are usually pet parents to both these animals. Are you one of those as well? Or are you a horse or a goat owner contemplating having the other one as a pet?

Having two different pets at a time, one of them being as large as the horse, can seem like a challenging task. But once you get the hang of it, you would be in for a delight.

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Of all the animals you could think of keeping together, goats and horses are one of your best choices. Wondering why? Don’t worry, we wouldn’t keep you wondering for long.

Given below are some of the reasons why goats and horses make a great pair. Check them out:

Goats make great companions for the horses.

This might surprise you, but goats and horses are destined to be best buddies. While introducing goats to your horse’s life should be a slow and gradual process, they bond well because they’re both herd animals.

If you have a female goat, it will get along with the horses much quickly. The male goats tend to have an aggressive attitude towards humans and other animals and are, thus, not the best match for your equine pets. Once the two animals are familiar, they can even be kept in the same pasture.

A fine example of their companionship is the fact that many racetracks keep goats as living and traveling companions to their horses.

Goats and horses do not share communicable diseases.

While both goats and horses are herd animals, that’s where their similarities end. Goats are ruminants, while horses, non-ruminants.

Both these animals have different primary pathological and gastrointestinal parasites, so there are no communicable diseases that can affect them both.

This means that there is one less thing for you to worry about when keeping the two together.

Goats eat all the weed, leaving grass for the horses.

If you have owned a horse for long enough, you must have realized how picky they can be about their food. These equines love grazing on grass spread in large stretches of the land but don’t care for the weeds growing among them.

If you have a goat, you wouldn’t have to get rid of these weeds on your own; they will happily do it for you. Goats have a quite different diet from the horses; they are more of a browser and tend to choose weeds over grass.

They’re also not as picky about what they’re feeding on as your equine pets.

Frequently asked questions

Is it okay to feed all-stock feed to goats? The all-stock feed can safely be fed to goats occasionally but is not ideal for them in the long run. If you plan on feeding them all-stock feed permanently, you might have to add some nutrient supplements to meet their nutritional needs.

How long do goats need to feed on the pasture in a day? You can let them graze the pasture for roughly 4-5 hours a day. If the pasture happens to be far away from your house, it would be wise to accompany them there initially.

Why are my goats eating mango leaves? Goats are naturally inclined towards browsing, like deer. Therefore, the leaves and branches of trees are a common part of their diet in the wild. Mango leaves are highly palatable to these ruminants and are also harmless to them.

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Which trees are the most favorite of the goats? While goats are known for having an individual taste, trees like box elder, willow, aspen, raspberries, thistle, and dandelions are well-liked by all goats.

Conclusion: Can Goats Eat Horse Feed?

Goats are great animals to have on a small farm because they’re easy to breed, are beautiful to look at, and produce delicious milk that most people enjoy. Goats love to eat too! My goats devour anything they can get their mouth on — whether it be wood chips, leaves, or hay. 

One day I found out by accident when I left a bag of horse feed in the barn which was near the goat’s food bin. When I returned later that day, I noticed that part of the horse feed had been chewed open which resulted in my goats having some mysterious new food for dinner.

Goats are meant to eat goat feed and weeds, but some owners feed them horse feed for various reasons. Horse feeds contain higher protein and fat levels than goat feeds. When fed excessively, these increase the chances of health issues resulting from obesity and nutrient deficiency in your goats. 

Goat feed is full of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber. It can give your goats a happy and energetic life as long as you make sure they have a balanced diet. 

So there you have it — a quick and easy guide to help you find out if goats can eat horse feed. I hope my article has answered your concerns and cleared up any misunderstandings concerning this sometimes-controversial topic.

And that brings us to the end of our article! Thanks for reading!

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