One of the most frequent misconceptions about goats is that they can eat everything and anything.
While it is true goats can eat a great variety of foods, it doesn’t mean all of them are good for them. A common question when it comes to goats’ nutrition is, can goats eat oats?
The answer is yes, they can.
Goats’ Nutritional Needs
A goat’s main nutrition should come from hay, at around 50% of their daily intake. Goats need about two to four pounds of hay per day to keep a proper weight. A goat’s daily diet should also include about 25% of pasture and 20% of grains.
Some of the grains goats can eat include corn, soybean, and oats. Though grains are not a natural source of food for goats in a wild environment, goat farmers and keepers have learned that grains are a good source of energy and nutrition for goats, especially for does in-milk, pregnant goats, and fiber goats.
Goats should have access to plenty of clean, fresh water to ensure their health. An adult goat can drink from ¾ to 1 gallon of water a day.
Nutrition Value of Oats
Oats are one of the most widely consumed foods in the world and for good reason: they are an excellent source of fiber and multiple essential minerals such as phosphorus, thiamine, magnesium, and zinc.
Oats contain many components related to health benefits in humans, including their soluble fiber which slows down digestion and keeps us satiated longer, thus reducing appetite.
Types of Oats Goats Can Eat
There are many types of oats, which really means there are many forms in which the oat grain can be consumed. Whole, steel-cut, and rolled are some of the most common ways oats can be fed to goats.
Whole oats and steel-cut oats, as they have been processed the least, take longer to digest. However, oats in any form offer the same amount of nutrition, so the choice may come down to availability, price, or your goats’ feeding preference.
1. Whole Oats
Whole oats are another name for oat groats, which is the whole, unbroken oat grain that has been harvested, cleaned, and removed from their inedible hulls.
2. Steel-cut Oats
Steel-cut oats are whole oats that have been cut into smaller pieces with a sharp metal blade.
3. Rolled Oats
Rolled oats are whole oat groats that are steamed and then flattened or rolled into flakes.
4. Quick Oats
Quick oats are simply rolled oats that have been steamed and re-rolled into even thinner flakes, which changes their texture and reduces their cooking time.
What Quantity of Oats You Can Safely Feed to Goats
As with any grain, goats should not receive their main nutrition from oats.
For adult goats, a cup of oats a day should be sufficient to supplement their nutrition.
For kids, half a cup a day should be enough.
Oats and Goats’ Milk Production
Another common question around goats’ nutrition is the effectiveness of feeding oats as a way to support or increase milk production. Does (female goats) in-milk do need a richer diet than male goats or non-lactating does.
Grains such as oats will provide the additional energy required to supplement a doe in-milk’s nutritional needs.
Pregnant does, does in-milk, and fiber goats may be fed up to two cups of oats a day.
3 Fun Ways to Incorporate Oats in Your Goats’ Diet
As with any changes to your goats’ diet, oats should be introduced gradually so as to not upset their digestive system and to give their rumen, (their first stomach), the time to adjust. Also, it important to always consult your goats’ veterinarian when introducing any new food to your goats’ diet.
Mix Them into Pellet Feed
Hay feed pellets are made of hay that has been pulverized and turned into pellets. Pellets can also be made of alfalfa, which is a great source of protein for goats. Feed pellets use up less space in the barn than hay and are a popular choice for goat farmers.
You can incorporate either whole or rolled oats with pellet feeds, including sweet feed. Sweet feed contains molasses and is a good source of iron. It also satisfies a goats’ sweet tooth.
Sweet feed should always be given in moderation, though it can be a good tool for training and for administering a medication or dewormer.
Use Them in Medicated Treats
Another way to incorporate oats into your goats’ diet is by baking them into treats that will be used to hide medication. Besides adding fun and variety to their meals, oat-based treats can be a good way to administer a remedy or medication they may not otherwise take.
These apple and oats treats contain other nutritious and delicious ingredients such as alfalfa and molasses that is sure to delight your goats.
Add to Baked Cookies
Giving your goats a treat once in a while will keep them happy and healthy. There are numerous recipes available for healthy baked treats for goats. These usually include molasses or honey, apples, carrots, raisins, and rolled or cracked oats.
This goat lover has developed a few different baked treats for goats that use oats as their main ingredient.
When looking to introduce a new food into your goats’ diet, it is important to consult a nutritionist or veterinarian. It is also important to consult a good variety of sources when deciding on which treats to feed. These are the sources used for this article.