Can Chickens Eat Goat Feed? Dos and Don’ts for Optimal Nutrition

A Child Feeding a Goat

Article Summary

  • Chickens can eat certain types of goat feed in moderation.
  • Chickens can safely consume non-medicated goat feeds, including grains, alfalfa pellet feeds, and specific protein or milk booster feeds for goats.
  • Baby chicks under 4 weeks old should not eat goat feed as their sole food source.

Raising chickens and goats together can be a rewarding experience. You get delicious eggs from the chickens and milk from the goats. But when it comes to feeding time, you may wonder if you can feed your chickens the same goat feed you give your goats. The short answer is yes, chickens can eat certain types of goat feed in moderation. However, there are some important things to consider before offering your feathered friends their hooved neighbors’ grub.

What Do Chickens and Goats Eat?

Chickens are omnivores and will eat grains, greens, bugs, fruits, vegetables and even meat. Goats are browsing ruminants, meaning they forage on shrubs, trees, weeds, and other fibrous plant material. Both chickens and goats need a balanced diet high in energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. But their nutritional requirements do differ.

Is Goat Feed Good for Chickens?

Goat feed is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of goats. Most bagged goat feeds contain grains like oats, corn, barley or molasses as well as alfalfa for protein and minerals. Many goat feeds also contain ammonium chloride to prevent urinary calculi in bucks. The grains and alfalfa in goat feed can be healthy for chickens. But the medicated additives are what you need to watch out for.

Benefits of Goat Feed for Chickens

The grains in goat feed provide chickens with carbohydrates for energy. The alfalfa supplies protein for growth and egg production. Some goat feeds also contain healthy fat sources that promote shiny feathers and egg yolk color. The molasses provides fast energy and makes the feed more palatable. When fed in moderation, goat feed can provide balanced nutrition for chickens.

Is it Safe for Chickens to Eat Goat Feed?

Goat feed is not inherently unsafe for chickens. However, some types of medicated goat feed contain additives that can be toxic to chickens in high quantities or over time. For example, goat feed with rumensin or tylosin is not recommended for chickens. Aminopterin rat poison in some goat feeds can also kill chickens. Always check the ingredients before feeding any goat or animal feed to chickens.

A Goat and Chickens on a Park
A Goat and Chickens on a Park

What Type of Goat Feed Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens can safely eat most non-medicated goat feeds. This includes basic grain and alfalfa pellet feeds. Chickens can also eat specific protein, lay ration or milk booster goat feeds made for lactating or growing goats. Stay away from medicated feeds containing coccidiostats, antibiotics, ammonium chloride or other medications.

Can Chickens Eat Goat Pellets?

Yes, chickens can eat plain goat pellets made of grains, molasses and alfalfa. Avoid pellets with medications, chemical wormers or high copper levels which can be toxic to chickens over time. Also limit pellet amounts since chickens tend to overeat dense pellets.

Can Chickens Eat Goat Hay?

Chickens can safely eat many types of goat hay including alfalfa, timothy, orchard grass, oat hay or bermuda grass. Hay provides fiber and protein. Allow free-choice hay in a rack or feed small amounts daily. Avoid moldy, dusty, or spoiled hay.

Can Chickens Eat Goat Treats?

Chickens can eat healthy goat treats like rolled oats, sunflower seeds, raisins, fruits, vegetables and even goat specific treats. In moderation, these provide extra protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Limit sugary baked treats as occasional snacks.

Can Chickens Eat Medicated Goat Feed?

It’s best to avoid feeding chickens medicated goat feed whenever possible. Even small amounts of medications like rumensin, tylosin, decoquinate, lasalocid or aminopterin found in medicated feeds can accumulate and poison chickens over time. Check feed ingredients and ask your goat feed supplier for non-medicated options.

How to Feed Goat Feed to Your Chickens

When feeding goat feed to chickens, moderation is key. Chickens should get no more than 30% of their diet from goat feed.


Feed goat pellets, grains or hay by sprinkling small amounts in the chicken coop, mixing with scratch grains or offering free choice in a shared feeder.

Always provide layer feed formulated for chickens as the bulk of their diet along with treats.

How Much Goat Feed to Feed Chickens?

Chickens can eat up to 1⁄4 pound of goat feed per bird, per day. This equals around 1⁄2 cup of pellets or grain or a few ounces of hay. Larger breeds or older chickens can eat a bit more. Monitor your chickens’ body condition and egg laying ability when feeding goat feed. Reduce amounts if chickens become overweight or egg production drops.

Can You Feed Goat Feed to Chickens Everyday?

It’s fine to feed small amounts of goat feed daily as part of a balanced diet. But chickens should not exclusively eat goat feed everyday for extended periods. Chicken layer feed provides the right nutrition profile tailored to their needs. Alternate between goat feed and chicken feed for variety. Also offer fresh greens, sprouted grains, fruits and insects.

Does Goat Feed Help Chickens Lay Eggs?

The extra protein, calories and nutrients in goat feed can help boost egg production. But laying hens still need calcium and the nutritional profile of a complete layer feed formulated for chickens. Goat feed works best as a supplemental feed for better quality eggs rather than the sole ration.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Goat Feed?

Baby chicks under 4 weeks old should not eat goat feed as their sole food source. Chick starter feed provides the proper protein and nutrient levels for growth and development. However, chick crumbles can be sprinkled on top of goat feed for added protein. Avoid medicated goat feed for chicks.

Can Goats and Chickens Eat the Same Feed?

With some precautions, goats and chickens can safely share certain feeds. Allow free access to hay. Feed dairy goat ration, clean goat pellets or plain grains supplemented with chicken layer feed. Never offer chickens medicated goat feed. Separate species at feeding time if needed. Shared species feeding works well on small homesteads.

… chickens can eat goat feed but in moderation along with proper chicken layer feed

In summary, chickens can eat goat feed but in moderation along with proper chicken layer feed. Check ingredients, avoid medications, feed supplemental amounts, and provide a balanced diet. With some care and planning, goat feed can be a great addition to keep backyard chickens healthy and productive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of goat feed to feed chickens?

When considering goat feed for chickens, it’s crucial to opt for a balanced feed specifically formulated for poultry. Look for feeds with a higher percentage of protein, around 16-18%, to meet the nutritional needs of chickens. Additionally, choose feeds that contain essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, crucial for eggshell formation.

Does goat feed help chickens lay eggs?

Yes, goat feed can contribute to optimal egg production in chickens. The higher protein content in goat feed supports the development of strong and healthy feathers, promoting overall well-being in chickens. A well-balanced diet, including goat feed, can positively impact egg-laying frequency and the quality of eggs produced.

Is goat feed good for chickens?

Goat feed can be beneficial for chickens when chosen wisely. Ensure that the goat feed selected is appropriate for poultry, with a focus on higher protein levels and essential nutrients. The right goat feed can enhance the health of chickens, support feather growth, and positively influence egg-laying capabilities, contributing to a thriving and productive flock.