Feed Quantity, Goat Feed

How Much Grain To Feed Goats In Winter?

How Much Grain To Feed Goats In Winter?

Feeding goats in winter requires careful consideration to maintain their health and energy levels. Adult goats typically need about 2 to 4 pounds of grain per day during the colder months, depending on their size, breed, and whether they are pregnant or lactating. It’s essential to balance this grain intake with adequate hay, which should be the primary component of their diet, to ensure proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Always ensure they have access to clean, unfrozen water.

Grain To Feed Goats In Winter

Best Grains to Feed Goats in Winter


Corn is a high-energy grain that helps goats maintain body heat in cold weather. It’s dense in calories and provides quick energy. However, it should be fed in moderation as it can lead to obesity if overused. Corn is also low in protein and high in phosphorus, so it should be balanced with other feed options.


Oats are a safer grain option as they are less likely to cause digestive issues than corn. They are high in fiber, which is good for a goat’s digestive system, and have a balanced nutritional profile. Oats also provide necessary energy without the risk of causing rapid weight gain.


Barley is another excellent grain for goats in winter. It’s more digestible than corn and provides a good energy source. Barley is high in calories and helps maintain body weight during the colder months. It also has a good protein content, making it a beneficial supplement to a forage-based diet.


Soybeans are a great source of protein, which is essential for pregnant or lactating goats. They help in maintaining muscle mass and overall health. It’s important to feed soybeans in a processed form (like roasted or as a meal) to make them more digestible for goats.

Best Grains to Feed Goats in Winter

The Importance of Water in Goat Feed in Winter

Water is crucial in a goat’s diet, especially in winter, as it aids in digestion and helps maintain body temperature. Despite lower temperatures, goats still need adequate hydration to process their feed effectively and stay healthy.

To ensure goats drink the required amount of water in winter, it’s important to provide water that is not too cold; slightly warmed or at least unfrozen water is more appealing to them. Additionally, placing water sources near their shelter encourages them to drink regularly, as goats may be reluctant to move far in cold weather.

The Importance of Water in Goat Feed in Winter

Grain Feeding in Winters – Different Phases of Goat Life

Baby Goats (Kids)

For baby goats, the focus is on gradually introducing grains along with their mother’s milk. Starting with a small amount, like a handful of easily digestible grains like oats, helps develop their rumen. As they grow, the grain quantity can be increased, but it should be done carefully to prevent digestive issues.

Young Goats

Young goats, or juveniles, require a balanced diet that supports their growth and development. They should be given a moderate amount of grains, such as barley or oats, which provide the necessary energy and nutrients. The grain intake should complement a diet rich in hay and forage to ensure proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Grown-up Goats

Adult goats in winter need grains to maintain their body condition, especially in cold climates. Their grain diet, often consisting of a mix of corn, oats, and barley, should be around 2 to 4 pounds daily, depending on their size and activity level. It’s important to balance this with sufficient hay to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Pregnant/Lactating Goats

Pregnant and lactating goats have higher nutritional needs. They require a higher protein and calorie intake to support fetal growth and milk production. Grains like soybeans, which are high in protein, and energy-rich grains like corn are beneficial. The grain ration should be carefully managed to avoid complications like pregnancy toxemia, especially in the last trimester.

Grain Feeding in Winters – Different Phases of Goat Life

Winter Feed vs. Summer Feed for Goats

In summer, goats primarily consume fresh forage, such as grasses, leaves, and shrubs, which are abundant and rich in nutrients, reducing the need for supplemental grain feed.

During winter, however, the scarcity of fresh forage necessitates a shift to a diet heavier in hay and grains like corn, oats, and barley to provide the necessary energy and nutrients. This winter diet helps goats maintain body heat and overall health in colder conditions. Additionally, the winter diet often requires careful attention to water intake, as goats are less inclined to drink cold water.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the lowest temperature goats can tolerate in winter?

Goats can generally tolerate temperatures well below freezing, as low as -20°F (-29°C), especially if they are healthy and have a well-insulated shelter. Their thick winter coats provide significant insulation. However, factors like breed, health status, and acclimatization can affect their tolerance to extreme cold.

How do goats and sheep maintain body temperature in winter?

Goats and sheep maintain their body temperature in winter primarily through their thick wool or hair coats, which provide excellent insulation. They also generate body heat through rumination (digesting fibrous plant material) and increasing their calorie intake, often through more hay and grain.

Do bucks need more grain in winter than females?

Bucks do not necessarily need more grain than females in winter. The grain requirements depend more on the body condition, activity level, and whether the goats are pregnant or lactating. Pregnant or lactating females may require more nutrients, including grains, compared to bucks to support fetal growth and milk production.

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