can goats eat horse feed

Can Goats Eat Horse Feed? Understanding Goat Nutrition and Healthy Feeding Practices

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Blog

Ever wondered if your goats can snack on the same feed as your horses? Well, it’s not quite as simple as tossing the same feed into two different pens. Animals, just like us, have their unique dietary needs, and this applies particularly to goats and horses. So, what’s the scoop on feeding goats horse feed?

Understanding the Diets of Goats and Horses

Goats are nature’s lawnmowers and garbage disposals. With their ruminant digestive system and four—count ’em, four—stomachs, they love gnawing on just about any plant-based food, including stuff other animals turn their noses up at. Twigs, bark, and even prickly plants are all fair game for them. To boost their diet, you can’t go wrong with something like Kaytee Timothy Hay, stuffed with fiber for their munching pleasure.

Now, horses are a different kettle of fish (or should I say bucket of oats?). Unlike our goat friends, horses have a simpler digestive system. They lean towards more palatable stuff like grasses and herbs, and their specific feed, say something like Purina Horse Feed, helps meet their nutrient needs.

But here’s the thing: while goats and horses both chow down on hay, their digestion and nutrient needs are as different as chalk and cheese. Goats need more rough stuff and their nutrient needs aren’t exactly the same as horses. This means you can’t swap out their feed willy-nilly.

Risks and Benefits of Feeding Horse Feed to Goats

So, what happens if you do feed your goats horse feed? Well, in a pinch, it’s not the end of the world. But it’s definitely not something you want to do long-term. Horses, being the big fellas they are, need food with higher concentrations of certain nutrients. Feed your goats horse feed, and they’ll end up with a super-sized serving of nutrients meant for a much larger animal.

For example, horses need more salt than goats. So, if you’re giving your goats horse feed, you might accidentally give them salt poisoning. And trust me, you don’t want to deal with a dehydrated goat with nerve damage. Plus, while copper is needed by both animals, horse feed has too much for goats and can cause copper poisoning. Ever heard of a goat peeing sweet-smelling, copper-colored urine? Yeah, not pleasant.

Feeding Practices for Goats

So, if horse feed is out, what should your goats be eating? Well, these little guys are natural foragers, so make sure they have a good variety of plant life to munch on. They need plenty of hay—try something like the Tough1 Hay Hoops Collapsible Wall Hay Feeder to keep it off the ground and minimize waste.

And sometimes, especially in the cold winter months, you might need to boost their diet with a few extras. A goat-specific feed like this Goat Feed, chock-full of protein and fortified with vitamins and minerals, can help fill any dietary gaps.

Can Goats Consume Horse Mix or Horse Sweet Feed?

Horse mix isn’t like poison to goats or anything, but it’s kind of like giving them junk food – it doesn’t have the right mix of nutrients they need. Sure, horse mix has stuff like alfalfa pellets, peas, corn, and grains, but it’s not going to meet all of your goat’s dietary needs. If you’re in a bind and horse mix is all you’ve got, it can work as a temporary solution. But, remember, it’s like surviving on potato chips – not a great long-term plan.

Now, let’s talk about horse sweet feed. Both horses and goats can technically eat it, but it’s sort of like giving your goats candy – it doesn’t have the protein punch that growing or milk-making goats need.

Here’s the bottom line: Stick to stuff that’s meant for goats. A product like Purina Goat Feed is like a balanced meal for your goats and a much better pick than horse sweet feed.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can my goats snack on chicken feed? Nope, don’t do it. It’s like eating something they’re allergic to – bloating, diarrhea, and other gut problems can happen.

2. What about senior horse feed? Well, it’s a bit better than other horse feeds since it has more fiber. But check out the labels for stuff like copper, salt, and other minerals before you let your goats have a bite.

3. Can horses eat goat feed? Some goat feeds contain a thing called Rumensin. It’s great for ruminant animals like goats but not so much for horses. It’s always better to stick with feeds designed specifically for each animal.


So, after this chat, it’s pretty clear that while goats can eat horse feed, it’s not the best choice for their diet. Long-term munching on horse feed can cause problems, from salt poisoning to copper toxicity. It’s better not to rely on horse feed as the main grub for your goats.

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Emily Wilson</a>

Emily Wilson

I'm from the very heart of Kentucky, you know, the place folks think of when they talk about horse love. Had the luck of growing up smack dab in the middle of some of the most awesome horse spots you'd ever see. Can't imagine starting my day any other way than being in that homely barn, waist-deep in horse stuff. My routine? It's a bit of everything really - taking care of the horses, bonding with them, you name it.

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