What do dairy goats eat?

Dairy goats are the breeds of goats that are mainly used to produce milk. Some common breeds of dairy goats in the United States are Alpine, La Mancha, Saanen and Nubian. Goats are ruminants. A ruminant is an animal with four stomach compartments: a reticulum, omasum, abomasum, and rumen. Goats are fed differently depending on their age and stage in their life. The stage of their life when they produce milk is the production stage. Dairy goats must be fed appropriately to get wholesome milk.


Dairy goats need to eat about five percent of their body weight every day. Dairy goats put much of their energy into milk production, so their diets must be high in energy. This energy is provided through the concentrate and hay. The concentrate is the feedstuff that is usually cereal-based. It is high in energy, protein and digestibility. Minerals are also a very important part of the diet. Calcium, phosphorous and sodium are the main minerals needed. These are added into the concentrate portion of the goat diet. The concentrate is mainly the grain that is fed to the goats daily. The grain includes protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Goats are fed roughages. Roughages are feedstuffs that are high in fiber and low in digestible energy. Along with the grain, goats should be fed hay. This is given once to twice a day depending on their living situation. Goats usually like weedy hay.

Goats are also “browsers” and “grazers.” They should be provided a pasture to browse and graze through. A diverse pasture with grasses, herbs, trees, and weeds is a good choice. This way the goat will get a variety of vitamins and minerals from the different plants.

One of the most important nutrients in a goat’s diet is water. Water should be provided all of the time. Milking goats will drink a lot of water because it is used in the milk production process.

Learn more about what animals eat