Should Goats Always Have Access to Hay

Goats are widely known for their curiosity when it comes to eating anything and everything. But the most common food they need to provide them with the proper nutrients is hay. But should goats always have access to it?

It is okay to let your goats have access to hay all the time, as long as they’re used to it. Only feed them hay twice a day if you give them other supplemental foods. If your goats are naturally foragers, you don’t need to feed them hay until the time of year comes when they can’t graze outside.

Besides just hay, there are many other foods to take into consideration when it comes to what you should feed your goat and what you shouldn’t. There are also other types of foods meant for goats that have high nutritional value; foods that can be just as beneficial for them as hay. Below you will find a guide about some of the best foods to give your goats, when to give them, and what foods to stay away from.


There are many different types of hay that you can choose from to give your goats. Some of the most common types of hay include alfalfa, clover, soybean, legume, or grass. For reference, grass hay is the type of hay that is most often given to horses for them to eat. Make sure that your hay has been properly dried and prepared before giving it to your goats.

As mentioned earlier, it is best to either let your goats have access to hay all the time, or give it to them on a set schedule if you feed them other foods regularly as well, like different feeds or scraps. And if your goats are pasture goats, you probably don’t even need to feed them any hay at all until winter comes and they can’t get their food from the outdoors anymore.

If hay is a main part of your goats diet, you should be feeding them between 2 to 4 pounds of it per day. Since it is an essential part of their diet, they will need a lot of it to make sure they’re getting the appropriate amount of nutrients and protein. Source

One popular option that falls under the hay category is something known as chaffhaye. It is made from a mix of alfalfa (a type of hay), molasses, and something called bacillus subtilis (a form of beneficial bacteria). First, it is mixed together and put into a sealed bag or container to ferment, allowing it to gather more bacteria that is good for goats and other animals, and then it can be fed to the desired animal.

Chaffhaye is more nutrient dense than other types of hay, so it can prove to be a very helpful feeding source for goats. A 50 pound bag of chaffhaye can be the same as 85 to 100 pounds of hay.

Other Appropriate Foods

These are just some additional foods that are good for goats to have and can help give them the nutrients they need.

Grain feed is another option that can help give your goats extra vitamins, minerals, and protein. Some of the most common reasons for giving a goat grain feed is if there is bad weather, or if a mother has multiple kids to feed and raise. However, this food source should not be used too much, as overeating it can cause goats to become sick and even die. There are different types of grain feed: rolled, whole, pelleted, and texturized. Make sure you know which one you’re getting for your goats.

If you are feeding your goats grain, it should be consistently every day. Adult goats should receive more feed than kids because younger goats aren’t able to digest the grain as well. Goats need a lot of protein to grow and stay healthy, and grain feed is a great source for that. Source

Salt licks are another popular thing for goats to have. These interesting things can help them maintain a healthy appetite and body weight. It also helps with reproductive health in female goats and the functions of bodily systems such as the muscle and immune systems. Salt licks aren’t a bad idea when you are considering how you want to get your goats all the nutrients they need.

Some supplements might be needed to provide your goats with the amount of vitamins and minerals they need, as well as to improve their immune system. And kitchen scraps are totally acceptable as an additional food as long as your goats are used to it.

Keep in mind that goats don’t like sudden changes or to feel stressed. Don’t try to suddenly force a change of food on them – just let them gradually get used to it. If you need to switch them from plants in a pasture to hay during wintertime, take a few weeks to get them adjusted to the change before the weather forces you to.

Special Treats Goats Can Have

  • Special Feed
  • Many different types of fruits and vegetables
  • Kitchen scraps like banana peels, garlic skins, orange peels, etc.
  • Snacks like bread, crackers, Cheerios, and corn chips – these are okay if given sparingly. Goats can become attached to them quickly so make sure that it is only an occasional treat. Source
  • Raisins – raisins can prove problematic for animals in general and it’s no different for goats. Too many can cause kdiney failure, so this must be an extremeley rare treat for them.

Use good judgement when deciding what treats to give your goats and how often.

Foods Goats Shouldn’t Have

  • Egg shells – they’re not good for their system
  • Chocolate
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Nightshade vegetables (eggplant, hot peppers, tomatoes -although the end of one is okay to give them)
  • Meat – goats are not carnivorous animals so don’t try to feed them any

Yes, they can have some human foods, but too much is not good for them.

In conclusion, just think about the nutrients your goat needs, what’s been working for them so far, and what the conditions of their living habitat are to help you decide what to feed them and when.  

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