For the most part, chickens and goats tend to co-exist pretty peacefully (although after seeing a cockerel attack one of our goats once, I’ve never trusted them near the goats since). However, many people leave out chicken feed full time for their poultry – which can represent a major risk if your goat can access the chicken feed. With this thought in mind, today, we’re looking at what you should do if your goats eat chicken feed and whether this is likely to be a dangerous issue for your beloved animals.
What to do if Goats Eat Chicken Feed
So, you’ve caught your goats in the act of eating chicken food. Just because it’s not made for them doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy delicious chicken food, after all! However, if this is something you have experienced, it’s crucial you act quickly!
The most important thing here is to immediately remove the chicken food so that your goat can’t eat anymore of it. The severity of your goat eating chicken feed will often depend on how much they’ve had, so this is vital. Don’t just put the food on a shelf – goats are great jumpers. Fully remove it from the pen so your goat can’t get to it.
Next, you should assess your goat quickly for any obvious signs of illness or discomfort. The most obvious issue you may experience here is that your goat could have bloat or acidosis. These conditions typically occur when your goat has overeaten grains, especially if they are not used to eating large amounts of concentrate feed at one time. If you notice that your goat seems to have a more blown-out rumen than normal or if they look lethargic or are grinding their teeth, keep a note of this.
Once you’ve inspected your goat, you will absolutely need to call your veterinary professional for advice. Let the vet know your goat’s current symptoms and how much (if you can estimate it) the goat has eaten. This will help your vet come up with the most effective treatments for your goat’s needs.
What Can be Done if a Goat Has Eaten Chicken Feed?
If your goat has eaten chicken feed, several different treatment options may be available. You must always check this with your vet before attempting any form of treatment, as you could potentially do further harm to your goat depending on the nature of the condition.
If your goat is suffering from bloat, you may need to remove the gas from the stomach through specialist treatments or a tube down the throat to remove the gas buildup. Alternatively, if a blockage causes the buildup, your veterinarian could potentially relieve the gas by inserting a stomach tube through the esophagus to release the pressure.
However, if eating chicken food has caused a more serious issue for your goat, the food may need to be surgically removed from the goat by your veterinarian to prevent the issue from becoming worse. Otherwise, the feed could cause acidosis if left in high enough quantities. But, of course, any surgical intervention will come with significant risks.
Why Do Goats Eat Chicken Feed?
In a small number of cases, goats may eat chicken feed if they are incredibly hungry and there is no other food around; this can make them more prone to escape while looking for something to eat. However, if your goat is well-fed already, they might eat chicken feed simply because it’s tasty!
After all, chicken feed is made from numerous different grains, many of which are also included in goat feed. However, the problem usually arises when your goat gorges on chicken feed. Alternatively, some chicken feeds may have toxins or incorrect mineral balances, which could put your goat at risk.
Can Goats Eat Chicken Feed Safely?
If your goats have eaten a very small amount of chicken feed, they may not experience any adverse effects. Still, it’s always important to be safe rather than sorry. However, with that being said, most goats will gorge themselves on chicken feed very quickly – you only need to see how quickly they hoover up food normally to get an idea of how much chicken feed they could eat in a very short span of time!
How to Prevent Goats from Eating Chicken Feed
If your goat has eaten chicken feed (or attempted to) in the past, there are a few key steps you can take to stop them from doing this again. Notably, you should start by ensuring that the chicken food is secured in the chicken pen and not readily available to the goats.
Ideally, you should also shut away chicken food in an area that only your chickens can get to, to prevent further damage from occurring. While this may not fully stop your goat from eating chicken food, it can be a great way to reduce the risk.
Finally, if your goat is still determined to eat chicken food, try not to fill the chicken feed up so much (if possible) and top it up little and often instead. In doing so, if your goat should get into the chicken pen, there’ll be fewer nuts available for it to eat.
Goats are, by their nature, very inquisitive and greedy animals. With this thought in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that many goats will want to find out more if they discover a chicken feeder – and, when they notice it’s filled with yummy grains, it’s no surprise that they’ll potentially eat lots at once. However, it is important to consider here that if your goats eat chicken feed, they could be at major risk of acidosis in particular – a disease that’s often deadly. Even if your goat gets away without acidosis, they may still experience bloat. As such, it is vital to get professional veterinary advice as soon as you notice what the goat has done and have stopped them from eating any more. Your vet may be able to advise further on the different options available to you.