While a goat’s diet should be primarily good quality forage and a fortified goat feed or mineral product, treats are something you can use to build a bond with your goat. Watching them enthusiastically munch on treats is also a rewarding experience as a goat owner. Here are a few things that are important to think about when selecting treats for your goat herd.
Obviously, nutrition should always be the number one goal. If treats aren’t fed in moderation, they can actually decrease the nutrient levels in your goat’s overall diet. You wouldn’t want a human kid to fill up on candy bars and not eat a balanced meal… Same goes for goat kids. On average, a goat will eat around 2% of their bodyweight per day. You don’t want more than a small percentage of their total diet to be treats.
For example: A pygmy goat that weighs 30 lbs will eat around ½ lb per day. That is only 8 ounces. A couple of cups of carrots would fill them up. Treats can really add up!
Fruit and Vegetable Safety
Certain vegetables and fruits are not safe for goats to eat. Treats to avoid include: nightshades (tomatoes and eggplants) and alliums (garlic and onions). Citrus fruits should also be avoided as they can alter rumen acidity. On the other hand, there are also several fruits and vegetables that are safe and healthy to feed in moderation. These treats include: apples, bananas, strawberries, carrots, and watermelon. While fruits and vegetables do contain some vitamins and minerals, they are not balanced to meet your goat’s total nutritional needs.
Crackers, Cookies, and Fortified Treats
Animal crackers and pretzels can be fed in moderation, but the salt and sugar contents should be carefully considered. Too many high starch treats can cause digestive upset and potentially even bloat. Fortified treats – Goat Granola® block – offer the best of both worlds. Goats love them and they are part of a balanced diet. They often come in block or cube form and act as a supplement to forage and feed.