Raising livestock is not always an easy feat! Even if you only own a few animals, you need to become an expert on what they need to grow and flourish. Beginner hobby farmers sometimes ask, “can you feed sheep and goats the same diet?”
If the genetic makeup is similar, it may be worth researching if you can feed them identical diets. In this article, we will explore sheep and goats’ diets to dig deep into what each animal needs nutritionally.
New Heritage Feed Co. offers high-quality animal food for various birds and mammals commonly found on both hobby and commercial farms. Our organic natural feed is blended with essential oils to bring a healthy yet unique twist to other traditional farm animal food on the market.
We value honesty, integrity, and sustainability which is why we know you want education to feed your animals to be happy and healthy. Let’s look further into if you can feed sheep and goats the same diet if you happen to be raising both on your farm.
Can You Feed Sheep and Goats the Same Diet? The diversity between goats and sheep
Goats and sheep can serve different purposes. You can use both for meat, milk, companionship, commercial production, or even for animal therapy.
There are differences within each species. Goats used for dairy production differ from those grown for meat. You can find the same within the sheep family.
What is best for the animals on your farm varies based on the end-goal. The animals do best if fed the correct diet for their purpose.
Goats are foragers meaning they eat roughage and woody plants to intake up to 5% of their body weight daily. Quality forage should be available to them as much as possible.
Sheep are considered grazers who enjoy grass and other greens available in a quality pasture. A good grass hay is a wonderful supplemental feeding option for sheep.
What are the nutritional requirements of goats?
Goats all share the same basic nutritional needs, which include:
- Roughage or grains
Where you find differences is in the amount of each of these components based on the goat’s purpose (dairy, meat, breeding). The animal’s developmental stage also impacts their nutritional needs.
Goats have a fast metabolism, so they must eat low protein plants. Having hay and other forage available at all times is necessary for them to prevent weight loss.
High levels of grains can cause bloating, urinary issues, ketosis, and acidosis. High grain yields high calories, which causes weight gain, and that can put added stress on the bones of the goat.
So what can you feed your goats?
Grass hay is good for goats as it promotes an adequate digestive system. If you have dairy goats, roughage should make up most of the diet as grains can impact quality milk production. Small amounts of grains are okay but should be supplemental.
The amount of grain-fed to meat goats is even more limited. It makes sense economically for the majority of the diet to come from forage as goats convert plant material into muscle efficiently and effectively.
If the goats are raised for enjoyment or pets, then there is more flexibility as to what they eat. The goats still need a balanced diet and access to hay, but you can feed some grains so long as you follow safe feeding measures.
Either legume hay or carbonaceous hay is okay to feed goats. Grass hay may be less expensive, but it is less nutritious for goats.
Grains may not be necessary for dairy and meat goats unless there is not adequate forage. In that case, give a quality animal food that is the same as the food farmers give goats for commercial production.
What are the nutritional requirements for sheep?
Just as with goats, the nutrition requirements vary based on where they are in the reproductive cycle. All sheep need to have access to quality mineral salt and plenty of water.
Generally, early in the pregnancy, the sheep need access to good green grass and good legume hay. Later in the pregnancy, you can add a small amount of grain to their diet.
Nursing lambs also require access to plenty of green grass, legume hay, or grass hay. Young lambs are okay with a small amount of grain added to their daily feed. Early weaned lambs may need a vitamin supplement that may help prevent stiff lamb issues early in their lives.
Growing lambs do need a diet with 15% protein. Once weaned, the lambs can continue to the same diet mix as they mature.
Other significant differences between sheep and goats
Though you cannot feed sheep and goats the same diet, both animals benefit from eating from the right feeder. Those designed for horses and cows are too large for the animals.
Different goat and sheep feeders available to farmers are:
- Small bale feeders
- Basket feeders
- Bunk feeders
- Collapsible feeders
- Round feeders
- Walkthrough feeders
Any of the options are appropriate for both animals. You can adapt the feeders based upon your farm’s size, the number of animals, and the type of food you are feeding the different sub-species.
Special feeders can be used for grains as the amount needs to be monitored carefully for both animals. Specialized grain troughs are often of benefit and come in a variety of sizes.
Feeding your goats and sheep does not have to be stressful so long as you have education, access to the right food, and a successful set up on your farm.
Where can I find a nutritional grain animal product for my sheep and goats?
Can you feed sheep and goats the same diet? No, but you do need to provide the animals with a small amount of grain so make sure you purchase a product that is not only natural but fortified with the proper minerals and vitamins.
Figuring out the protein and carbohydrate balance can be tricky. The good news is New Heritage Feed Co.; we have done that for you!
Our animal food is backed by research and science, so you can be at ease knowing you are feeding your animals the very best. We cannot wait to be a partner in your farming future.