Out of all the animals you could possibly own on your farm or homestead, chickens are the ones with huge appetites out of all proportion with their tiny stature.
Any keeper who has been around a flock long enough will tell you that, given half a chance, chickens will steal food from other animals and eat just about anything they can get their beaks on.
How about goat feed, for instance? Can chickens eat goat feed, and more importantly, is it safe for them to do so?
Goat feed is not truly harmful for chickens, but it is not nutritionally complete either. You don’t have to worry if your chickens get a little bit, but you shouldn’t feed it to them on purpose in light of other options.
It happens a lot more than you might think. You spill a little bit of feed on the way to give your goats some supper, your chickens break out, or they are left to free-range and, before you know it, they’re pecking away at the goats’ feeder.
Humorous, yes, annoying, probably, but this generally is not going to be any worry for your chickens so long as you don’t make it a habit of giving them goat feed. I’ll tell you everything you need to know on the topic below…
A Little Goat Feed Won’t Hurt Your Chickens
Let’s get one thing out of the way quickly if you came here in a panic because your chickens got into the wrong kind of food: goat feed doesn’t have anything that is going to outright harm the health of your birds.
In fact, goat feed contains many of the same ingredients the other animal feed contains, only in proportions optimized for goat health, not the health of chickens or any other animals.
So, if your birds get a little bit of goat feed or you want to toss them a small handful of leftovers, don’t worry about it.
Does Goat Feed Have any Health Benefits for Chickens?
Yes, in fact, it does. Go feed will provide chickens with some protein and carbohydrates, and also a variety of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals alike.
This can definitely contribute to their overall health so long as it isn’t a mainstay in their diet, and it is only an incidental snack for them.
Goat Feed Nutritional Info
The nutritional profile of various types of goat feed is similar to, and at the same time significantly different from, chicken feed.
Goats and chickens both need protein, carbs, fats, and fiber, and they will of course need lots of vitamins, specifically vitamin A, all of the B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Most notably, chickens don’t need very much vitamin C in their diet at all since they can make their own inside their bodies.
Besides the vitamins, goat feed will contain minerals too, specifically ones like iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc and more.
If you are familiar with the nutritional requirements of chickens, all of this certainly sounds familiar, but once again goat feed will have all in different quantities than chicken feed: compared to chickens’ specific needs, some will be too high, while others will be way too low.
For a few incidental bites or the occasional handful as a just for fun treat, this doesn’t make any difference. But when fed steadily over time, perhaps even as little as once a week, this can turn into serious nutritional deficits…
Goat Pellets are Probably Too Big and Hard for Chickens
Something else to keep in mind when assessing goat feed for chicken consumption is the type of the feed itself.
There are lots of different kinds out there, and though none of them, to my knowledge, are genuinely harmful to chickens some kinds are a whole lot easier for them to eat than others.
Goat pellets are very similar to chicken pellets, just a whole lot bigger in size and much harder, typically.
This means that many chickens will struggle to eat them at all, and if they do try to break off a chunk it could increase the risk of choking.
These large pellets may nonetheless be made much safer for chickens to eat if you crush them up or grind them. Other types of goat feed are basically a mix of prepared and processed grains, or other semi-whole ingredients.
These are much more amenable to chickens, and I promise you’ll see your birds picking through this type of goat feed looking for their favorite bits.
If you do decide to treat your chickens with a little bit of surplus goat feed, make sure you break down larger pellets first.
Is Goat Feed Safe for Baby Chicks?
Technically yes – but practically no. Let me explain.
Goat feed is safe for chickens, and for chicks, in the sense that it isn’t toxic or poisonous. But for chicks, it isn’t safe for them because it is so nutritionally unbalanced and generally difficult for them to digest that they will get into trouble quickly if allowed to eat it.
Digestive issues and an upset stomach or diarrhea can quickly spell doom for baby chicks because they are so sensitive in general.
Concerning the smaller types of goat feed that adolescent chicks might be able to eat, it’s not out of the question that they fill up on this stuff and miss out on the complete nutrition that they desperately need from their own feed.
For all these reasons, you never want to deliberately serve goat feed to chicks, and in any case where they might have access to the stuff try to prevent them from eating it.
How Frequently Can Goat Feed be Fed to Chickens?
Let me tell you right up front: Don’t make a habit of deliberately giving goat feed to your chickens. I said it’s not truly harmful, but it isn’t truly good for them either. And, you shouldn’t encourage them to eat things that aren’t genuinely healthy for them.
But, in truth, tossing your chickens a little bit of leftover goat feed out of the bucket or bag won’t hurt them, and if you want to give them a few scraps maybe once a week or every other week you won’t have a thing to worry about.
Don’t Let Your Chickens Eat After Goats
One last thing. You shouldn’t let your chickens eat directly after your goats, meaning eat out of the same container or eat any food that your goats drop while they are eating.
Although the chances of contracting or spreading a disease between the two animals is unlikely, it’s certainly not out of the question, and either animal could potentially serve as a vector for inter-species germs.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.