When I first started raising goats, a question frequently danced at the forefront of my mind: can goats eat pig feed? It might sound like a straightforward query, one that would warrant a simple yes or no. However, as any seasoned farmer would tell you, when it comes to the well-being of our livestock, every decision should be rooted in understanding and knowledge. The conclusive answer? No, goats should not eat pig feed.
This might come as a surprise to many, especially considering that both goats and pigs often share pastures in rural settings. On the surface, these animals seem to have similar dietary needs, but delving deeper reveals stark differences that can be crucial for their health. I learned this the hard way, and now, I aim to share this knowledge with fellow livestock owners, ensuring our animals get the appropriate nutrition they deserve.
Join me as we dive deep into understanding why pig feed isn’t suitable for goats and explore the distinct nutritional needs of both these incredible creatures. Making informed choices can be the difference between thriving livestock and preventable health issues.
Can Goats Eat Pig Feed?
As I mentioned above, the answer is no. It isn’t safe to feed your goats pig feed – it can make them sick and even kill them if they eat enough of it.
The question becomes why you might be wondering whether or not you can feed your goats pig food. Some people raise both pigs and goats together, which makes sense; these animals are close in size and similar in nutritional needs. You may wonder what happens when one sees the other’s food and tries to eat it.
You might also wonder if you should be feeding your pigs and goats in the same trough.
The answer is no: do not feed your pigs and goats in the same trough, even if they belong to the same owner. The risk of health problems for both your animals is too great. You cannot let them eat pig food.
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Why Can’t Goats Eat Pig Feed?
Anything that has been specifically formulated for a pig will make a goat sick (and vice versa). But what about all those people who have pet pigs and pet goats living together? Are these people just reckless or ignorant because they’re putting their animals’ lives at risk? No.
People that have pets from 2 different species living together understand that a few accidents happen here and there. A pet pig may get into the goat feed by accident or a goat can get into the pig’s food by accident, but the owners are usually able to tell right away if this has happened.
One of two things usually happens when someone makes a mistake with feeding their animal. Sometimes an animal will eat something that isn’t good for it and throw it back up soon after. Other times, an animal might be tricked into eating something that really does taste quite good. If this is ever the case, then you know that your animals have been given the wrong food, and at least it doesn’t seem like too big of a problem yet.
Usually, accidents happen because both of these types of animals are found on pasture together. It’s easy to let your guard down and stop thinking about the animals as 2 different species. When they’re out on pasture, you might not even think of them as separate animals at all – just a small herd.
This is why the best way to avoid problems with feeding either pigs or goats – don’t. If you cannot do this, then make sure both types of animals are always in their corral or barn and keep an eye on them constantly.
Can Goats and Pigs Live Together?
Now that you understand why you should not feed your goats pig food, let’s talk about the case of having a pet goat and a pet pig together. Sometimes this is done on purpose with 2 animals from the same owner, but most often it happens when 2 different owners both happen to have 1 animal each.
While I’m not talking about letting your animals share feed troughs right now, I am going to mention it as something to be aware of for later. The reason pigs and goats cannot live together is that they are too similar.
It is very easy for one person or another to slip and make a mistake with feed – either giving their own animal the wrong kind or letting them eat each others’ food by accident.
This isn’t something you would likely do on purpose, but it’s so easy to do and potentially so dangerous that keeping your animals separate is the only way to be sure.
Both pigs and goats need a diet high in fiber and low in protein. Goats need much more fiber than pigs, however. Pigs also have higher nutrient needs than goats as well as different health problems – for example, they are much more prone to problems with ulcers.
These differences make it even easier to accidentally feed your animals the wrong thing because you might not know how drastically different their nutritional needs are.
For both of these reasons, it just isn’t safe to mix pigs and goats together even if they are pets from the same owner living on the same property. They are both so similar that it is easy for mistakes to occur.
Even though you may have never heard of giving your goats pig food, this practice is actually very common. Many people are not aware of just how dangerous pigs and goats can be if they are fed the wrong foods, especially when they are kept together on pasture or in the same pen.
What Feed is Good for Goats?
Goats are ruminants just like cows. Their natural diet is made up of grasses and leaves, which make the perfect food for them to eat. This natural diet can also be supplemented with hay (alfalfa or legume) as well as an alfalfa hay mix along with grain.
Meat byproducts or “by-products” can also supplement their diets. By-products include things like fishmeal, brewers grains, wool grease, dried blood, molasses (for iron), bran (to increase fiber), and soybean meal (protein).
As mentioned earlier, goats need more fiber than pigs do but this is why pellets or cubes that contain both fiber and protein are usually given to these animals.
What Feed is Good for Pigs?
Pigs are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants – but their natural diet is not the same as a goat’s. For this reason, you will never be able to give them a completely balanced diet.
If you feed your pig a goat’s food it can make them sick because of what they lack in their regular diet. On the other hand, if you switch your pig’s food to one that is made for goats then they will gain too much protein from it and could become sick from gaining too much weight or developing some sort of liver disease.
In general, pigs need more carbohydrates than goats do. In addition to this, there are also two different feeding seasons for pigs: the growing season and the breeding season. During the first part of their lives, a pig needs more high-quality protein than goats do in order to grow larger and faster.
Once they are old enough to breed, however, this need shifts. At this point, the sow (a female that is pregnant or has just given birth) requires more carbohydrates because she is making milk for her litters as well as helping them develop inside of her body.
For these reasons, both hay and grains will be required for your pigs throughout their entire lives so you cannot switch from one type to another without making changes gradually over time.
What Should you not Feed Goats?
Goats shouldn’t eat anything poisonous, anything that could give them an upset stomach, and certain foods that could cause bloating.
Chocolate can kill a goat quickly or make them very ill over time because of the caffeine in chocolate. Garlic adversely affects the red blood cell count in animals. Many forms of bread dough can cause bloat, which is fatal in goats.
Onions in any form are particularly dangerous to your goat because they have a chemical in them that causes hemolytic anemia, which means the body attacks its own red blood cells and destroys them.
Citrus fruits contain oils that can be harmful to animals when consumed in large amounts but usually aren’t life-threatening. The stems, leaves, and seeds of many plants have chemicals or properties that are dangerous to goats when consumed in enough quantity – even apples can be toxic if too many are eaten at one time.
What other animal feed can goats eat apart from pig feed?
The dietary needs of goats are unique, but when it comes to managing a farm with diverse animals, it’s natural to wonder about the interchangeability of feed. After all, in some instances, one might run out of goat feed and contemplate if another animal feed can act as a temporary substitute. Below, we delve into five common types of animal feeds and whether they are suitable for goats.
Chicken feed typically consists of grains, protein sources, and necessary minerals. While it might not be outright toxic to goats, it’s not ideal for them. The nutritional balance in chicken feed is tailored to chickens, not goats. Goats might enjoy nibbling on it, but if consumed in large quantities or over extended periods, it may not provide the nutrients goats need and can lead to imbalances.
Absolutely not recommended. Dog food, both dry and wet forms, is formulated specifically for dogs, considering their omnivorous diet. It often contains meat or meat by-products, which are not suitable for herbivorous animals like goats. Additionally, the mineral composition in dog food can be harmful to goats, leading to health issues.
Horse feed is closer in composition to goat feed than many other animal feeds. Both animals are herbivores, and their feed primarily contains grains and fibrous materials. While it might seem like an acceptable substitute in a pinch, it’s essential to be cautious. Horses and goats have different nutrient requirements. For instance, the copper level in horse feed might be lower than what goats need, and prolonged feeding can lead to deficiencies.
Rabbit pellets mainly consist of fibrous materials like hay. While goats can digest these pellets, rabbit food might not provide all the essential nutrients goats require. As a treat or in very limited quantities, it might be alright, but it shouldn’t be a primary food source for goats.
Like dog food, cat food is a definite no for goats. Cats are obligate carnivores, and their food is rich in proteins and fats from animal sources. This type of diet is entirely unsuitable for goats, and even small quantities can be harmful.
Can Goats Eat Pig Feed – Final Thoughts
Goats should never eat pig feed, even if it’s the same brand you normally use.
Since pigs are omnivores while goats are herbivores, there are some ingredients that will be harmful to your goat if they eat too much of them or in the wrong forms. This is why it is always best to ask before giving anything new to your animal(s) – even if you already have them being fed by someone else.