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Any dairy farmer is haunted by the need to optimize their animal feeds. Especially when the animal they are farming is the temperamental but incredibly profitable goat. While these creatures might be picky, they also make some gorgeous, rich milk that results in some fantastically funky cheese products.
However, to coax this glorious by-product from the goats, you need to strike a delicate balance within their diets. A nutritionally satisfied goat is a goat that will be incredibly profitable.
In this article, we will be breaking down a whole host of different options for goat feed. Before we do that, this article will also examine exactly what goats need in their diets and some of the different needs required by certain breeds.
Hopefully, this will make the guide even more useful than just a simple educated recommendation. This article will outline the nutritional needs of many different goat breeds, and by following the guide, you should be able to determine exactly what your goat needs.
We will be taking feed samples available on Amazon.com and using real user feedback to inform our decisions. Sometimes, how the feed performs in the wild differs massively from what is advertised by the brand.
So, if you want to find out the best kinds of feed for dairy goats, read on as we break down the 12 best kinds and what you need to bear in mind when making your choice!
What does a Dairy Goat Need in its Diet?
As with humans, a balanced diet is the most important part of ensuring your goat is nutritionally satisfied. As such, for the best possible results, you should mix these potential feeds recommended here with the right balance of hay, wheat, grass, and other green vegetables.
While some elements of milk production are entirely tied up with genetics, it is massively influenced by your goat's diet. It is recommended that hay, silage, and pasture should make up most of your herd's diet, with careful application of feed supplements to ensure your goats get the minerals they require.
Often, cheaper or lower quality forages are used to save time and money, so the appropriate use of these supplements guarantees some great results for your goats. The mineral and nutrient quality of your doe's diet will significantly impact the nutritional content, overall quality, and flavor of your goat's milk.
The vitamin mixes and feed supplements listed here are often presented as a free choice to the goats or incorporated directly into the feed. It should be noted that most cow grain mixes can be fed to goats, but feed mixes and supplements meant for sheep will not have nearly enough copper content for your herd.
These feed supplements can be handy, especially during winter when pasture can be less nutritious. It also goes a long way to help older goats and those that are particularly underweight.
Feeds like the ones mentioned here often tend to be high in fiber, which does some wonderful things for the digestion of your goats. As the animal is prone to eating nearly anything, digestive aids can often be important to stopping any stomach issues the animal may encounter.
There are many different goat breeds, and each comes with its own milk production levels and nutritional requirements. Here is a table outlining the optimal production rate and quantity of the different types of goat:
Average production (pounds/lactation)
Milk Production by Dairy Goat Breed (275-305 days)
Source: Penn State Extension
As you can see, when given the proper nutrition, goats can be incredibly productive in terms of making milk. These nutrients are required to ensure consistent production.
Our Top Picks for Best Feeds for Dairy Goats
Manna Pro Goat Mineral has some great qualities that slightly set it apart from other Manna Pro products. It has some brilliant quantities of chelated minerals, which increase absorption and utilization of the positive elements.
The mineral and vitamin content of this feed (designed for free-choice feeding) is great for lactating dairy goats. The use of ammonium chloride in this product is aimed at minimizing urinary calculi effects in castrated goats.
Manna Pro is a brand you will see a few times on this list, as the company specializes in the creation of high-quality goat feed supplement products. This company has been operating in the goat-food business since 1842, providing nutritionally wholesome feed for over a century.
This strain of the various supplements they supply comes in pellet form. A few fun benefits of this product include the following:
Manna Pro comes in again with a different type of feed supplement - specifically one focused on fostering electrolytes and much better hydration within your herd.
Alongside this function, this electrolyte mix contains a huge cavalcade of different vitamins that are necessary for goats for healthy milk production. It promotes the quicker absorption of naturally occurring electrolytes and fluids and provides high energy that can help scouring or dehydrated goats.
Included in this list of feed nutrients is a high copper content - an essential requirement for goats that a lot of feed types often neglect to provide. This comes in two different forms, Copper Sulfate and Copper Proteinate.
Purina has, for a long time, been the consumer standard for animal feeds of various types. Not content with dominating the pet food market, the brand has also dabbled in high-quality livestock food. A compelling offering from the company, the Animal Nutrition Goat Chow, fulfills many basic goat nutrition needs.
Included in that list of nutrients supplied by the feed are key trace minerals that maintain strong bones, immune function, and fertility. This is obviously important as the more fertile your collection of does, the higher the lactate rate will be. This makes Purina a great choice as a feed supplement.
Alongside this, Purina Goat Feed has some natural oils focused around giving vibrant skin and coats to your goats. Vitamins A, D, and We are also present, which really create optimal milk production.
Purina really strikes true in its promise to deliver top-tier animal feed with this product, which is helped by the inclusion of selenium and cobalt, coupled with a 16% protein content derived from purely plant sources.
This product is a great vitamin and electrolyte supplement for goats. It has flexibility and can be used as both a soluble addition to water and a dry feed additive.
While it does have a good mix of these substances, it is focused on use with stressed animals, so that might not be your exact use case. It is also offered for significantly less money than others on this list.
Diatomaceous earth is a bizarre variant of goat feed bulking agent in a way that it is mostly earth.
However, the content in the Absorbent Products Inc. supplement is harvested from the mineral-rich Red Lake and is full of the great calcium bentonite, which can promote bone growth and milk production.
It also acts as a great anti-caking agent in goat feed and has a relatively high salt content. On the other hand, you need to bear in mind that this product is used for so many things aside from a goat feed supplement that it does not provide quite enough copper or vitamins to make the cut here.
Interestingly for Thorvin's Organic Icelandic Kelp Meal, similar uses of microalgae as a superfood have become incredibly popular among mainstream celebrities. Your goat might not know, but it will have similar dietary components as Kim Kardashian, and it will undoubtedly reap the rewards.
Made from Icelandic Kelp, this product incorporates a whole host of minerals (clocking in at a whopping 60), 17 different amino acids, and Vitamins A1, Niacin (B6), B1, D, K, and E. Some of these minerals and amino acids include:
This is also known to produce and promote a shiny coat, teeth/gum health, and help reduce plaque and improve bad breath (which goats often suffer!).
Kelp feed also aids digestion and provides natural phytochemicals and Omega-3 Fatty acids (giving it a high healthy fat and protein content). You will also notice the extensive minerals and vitamins included in the earlier list, and these are essential for optimized milk production.
ADM's animal nutrition stock feed is aimed at dairy cattle and herds, specially engineered for animals like nannies and does. This product is aimed more towards the hobbyist dairy farmer, as opposed to wider-scale dairy farming.
The feed has 12% protein content, combined with the amino acid lysine, to provide an adequate healthcare solution for your dairy goat.
Like other products on this list, it suffers due to its aiming at multiple animals. The suitability for lactating ewes means that the copper content is not relatively as high as you might expect for goat feed. However, for the hobbyist dairy farmer, it might be appropriate
Diatomaceous earth has already made an appearance on this list, and the product from Harris here might be aimed at horses, but it still provides some compelling benefits for dairy goats.
You will see the same issues as with the other diatomaceous earth product on this list, but a nice positive of choosing Harris' offering is the brand's activism in housing abandoned or mistreated farm animals.
Redmond is a company specializing in all types of natural and authentic salt products. In this instance, the brand has turned to create a mineral salt-based feed mix that can be incorporated and substituted in other goat feeds.
Real Salt is Redmond's most popular product, and it is not hard to see why. All-natural sea salt harvested from an ancient deposit near Redmond, Utah, is an attractive prospect. The salt is gathered underground and left just as it was created by nature. Surprisingly, the company also uses this product in goat feed.
If you want to give your goat a premium, luxury product that is so good that even some people swear by it, this might be the solution for you.
This is a totally natural ancient mineral salt, fortified with the essential vitamins already present within it. This includes added copper fortifications (the importance of which has already been heavily emphasized in this article). Alongside the supplementary copper content, vitamins A, D, and E are fortified in this product.
Redmond's Mineral Supplement Mix is not flavored with other chemicals or products but maintains a natural salt flavor that goats tend to absolutely love. Like other products in this list, it provides essential electrolytes and aids in promoting proper digestive function.
As one reviewer so succinctly puts it: "my goats loved it, but the mailman probably didn't." The Goat Block is undoubtedly a strange prospect and indeed a bit of a weird one for the postal service to deliver.
The goat feed here is not in the form of pellets, nuggets, or powder but instead comes as a block of feed supplement that is intended for use as a "free-choice" nutritional supplement.
This means that rather than having you worry about inserting quantities of a supplement into goat feed, the goats feed on the block in their own time. When placed near a water source, the goats can figure out how much each of them needs intuitively.
If you use a block like this, it is recommended not to provide any additional salt sources. That way, the goats are explicitly drawn to that one block for their salt needs. As with all animals (including humans and their fascination with potato chips), goats love salt.
As such, they will probably want to eat more of it than they need, so if their primary salt source is tied to a feed block, they will get a whole host of nutrients every time they gorge themselves on salty goodness.
It should be noted that for this product, there are several vitamins and trace mineral fortifications contained in the block. However, there is a complete lack of extra added copper in this feed (so it can be compatible with sheep). This makes it a less helpful product for solely goats but could be handy if you have multiple herds of different species.
This one is less of a complete dairy goat feed supplement but more of a type of pellet snack to give goats with an already balanced diet of good forage. The banana and ginger flavors are particularly attractive to our four-hooved friends.
Further to that, these snacks are low in calories, so they will not massively impact the weight gain of your dairy goats. However, what it will do for your dairy goats is provide a nice bunch of minerals and vitamins, which are always welcome.
There are also supplemental probiotics that work to increase digestive health. The snacks are high in fiber and cut the calories and fat while being fortified with a long list of vitamins and minerals. As the snacks are made with real bananas, they have a natural sweetness coupled with an exceptionally high potassium content.
In our research for best feeds for dairy goats, we have found that the Manna Pro Balancer is the best bang for your buck with regards to the goat feed. It hits pretty much every need a dairy goat farmer might want from feed and does so at a much lower price than competitors like Purina. Alongside that, the enhanced protein content leads to better lactation conditions and the ability for does, a great benefit for dairy farmers of all kinds.