Natural Weed and Feed for goats – that’s what this post is about. Not official sounding enough? Alright, how about Natural Dietary Supplements for Goats.
Just getting started with goats? Still wondering about a cow? Be sure to read our comparison of homestead dairy cows and dairy goats in the Livestock on the Homestead chapter of our book The Do It Yourself Homestead. Don’t have your own copy?! No worries, you can get one here, or click below. Written on four different levels of homesteading, covering eight different chapters of information and 400 pages of material, there’s bound to be something here for you! If you’re interested in sampling the livestock chapter, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get you set up!
When you’re on several acres or more there are a lot of veggies, grains, herbs and even weeds that you can grow in abundance throughout the season to supplement or replace your goats’ feed ration.
However, when you keep your goats in a backyard setting, it can be harder to find ways to supplement or replace the goats’ grain and round out their diet. Especially if you want those supplements to be natural, unprocessed or even homegrown! Here are some of our favorite suburban homesteader…
Natural Dietary Supplements for Goats
First things first, here’s our disclaimer:
Ok, so this one you probably wont be sourcing in your backyard unless you live on a coast; if you do, figure out how to harvest and use this stuff because its awesome as natural dietary supplements go. From Holistic Livestock, here’s an article on the many benefits and uses of kelp – even as soil fertilizer!
You can find kelp in some home and garden stores. I’m able to buy it in 25 lbs bags from a local livestock supply and I’m grateful for that. Its not the cheapest supplement on this list but you need to consider that the more you spend on preventative measures, the less time and money you spend dealing with an unhealthy herd.
You may need to provide extra salt for your herd depending on what else they’re eating, but I love Redmond Sea Salt for my goats. I’m in Utah (Redmond is based here), so I’m able to buy the livestock bags at the local feed store. The livestock grade is the exact same salt as the one sold for human consumption but the latter is packaged in a clean, certified environment.
This salt is like magic fairy dust – any sea salt would be. Want to know what’s so special about sea salt for you and your animals? Here’s a quick synopsis from Redmond. They sell salt blocks, too, if you need them.
DE for short, diatomaceous earth is a soft, sedimentary rock that contains fossilized remains of tiny diatoms, a hard shelled algae. It looks a lot like the various kinds of food grade clay. It is abrasive if you get it in your eyes or nose, so do be careful when mixing up this natural supplement – you can wear a mask if you need to.
DE is often used as a topical pesticide in the farmyard (it works wonderfully for that!) but you can also use it internally for parasites. The effectiveness is a matter of some debate, but I figure it can’t hurt and I include it in this natural supplement. Here’s an article on using DE as natural de-wormer by Diatomaceous Earth.com.
For Beekeepers and Organic Gardeners
Here’s a quick warming about using DE if you keep bees or practice integrated pest management in your garden. DE is a very effective natural treatment for pests but it does not discriminate between honey bees and carpenter bees, lacewings and locusts. Be very careful how you handle DE and do NOT just broadcast it in the garden. For more ways to use DE on the homestead, please visit this link.
I usually add equal parts clay and DE to cover my bases with removing toxic substances from my goats’ tracts. Here’s another explanation from Holistic Livestock on clay. I use clay in natural supplements for my family, too.
I have a great love for the humble rose hip. I grow rugosa roses just so that I can have access to rose hips that are full of vitamin C! You can read more about growing rugosas here. (For fun, you can visit this link to learn how to make rose petal ice cream – for you, not your goats!!)
We talk about other backyard forage options for goats in this article, where we also mention our beloved rose hips.
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Every goat loves her treats and sunflower seeds are always a hit. I grow a lot of sunflower seeds every year of many varieties to feed the goats and chickens. The black oil variety are particularly beneficial because of the high oil content and all the vitamins and minerals.
Here’s an article on the benefits of BOSS (the abbreviated version) for horses but you can liken most of it to goats – there’s a table there of the aforementioned vitamins and minerals.
Yeast and Baking Soda
No, you’re not making bread, you’re making a natural supplement for your goats. Both Diamond V yeast and baking soda act as happy helpers for your goats’ rumens and their digestive systems. Fiasco Farms talks about the benefits of Diamond V yeast (this is not baking or brewers yeast, fyi) on her site and you can find that here. (Fiasco is a great resource for goat owners, FYI.)
I used get the baking soda at my local feed store (now I buy Bob’s Red Mill baking soda for the goats and humans); the Diamond V I’ve ordered from Amazon. These two I mix into the supplement but also offer free choice in the goat barn in small quantities. The goats won’t eat the yeast or soda if they’re stale, so I just put out a little. During the summer, they barely touch the yeast or soda at all.
You can omit these altogether if you feel like your goats get a well rounded diet and don’t appear to have any dietary distress. Likewise, you can supplement their gut health with lots of homemade probiotics like milk kefir. To learn how to make that, click here.
You can choose to toss your herbal wormer into your daily supplement mix, too, if you’re using one. I’m going to omit this from the recipe and just suggest that you examine your suggested daily doses of herbal wormer and see if you feel comfortable mixing it into a supplement.
Speaking of Fiasco Farms again, I buy Molly’s herbal wormer for my livestock and add it to my natural supplement because its the only way my head dam ever gets her wormer. I have tried EVERYTHING short of wrestling her to the ground every day to make her take her wormer. I have to throw it into her supplement and hope she gets enough of it to help. My other goats will politely eat herbal wormer treats, some eating them right out of my hand. My head dam is just a butt, so I do what I gotta do.
I love Molly’s herbal wormer and highly recommend it! Note that there are two types and you’ll need some of both. She’s not an affiliate of mine, I just really love her products.
I also add turmeric for my head dam who has clicky knees, as well as some ginger and garlic for everyone’s immune system. I’ve used powdered herbs with success before, but whole or cut leaf work, too. I’ve also given my goats dried, slice garlic and they LOVE it – they eat it up like chips.
I’ll usually add a bit of oregano in the fall and spring when they’re more likely to pick up a bug of some kind, if they’re going to pick one up at all. I’m not scientific about it at all – I usually add it in a few tablespoons at a time.
Recipe for Natural Dietary Supplement for Goats
Feel free to adjust these measurements for your own herd. Sometimes I run out of one ingredient and find myself not making the supplement while I wait for me to remember to order more of that one ingredient. That’s silly, of course. Better to be supplementing with something when it’s needed than doing nothing at all. So, don’t worry if you don’t have everything right now. Make a test batch and see how you and your goats like it.
- 1/4 part kelp
- 1/8 part sea salt
- 1/4 part DE
- 1/4 part Redmond clay
- 1 part rose hips
- 1 part sunflower seeds
- 1/8 part Diamond V yeast
- 1/8 part Bob's Redmill baking soda
- 1/4 to 1/2 part herbs of choice - I add turmeric, garlic and ginger most often
- Place all ingredients in a large container with a lid.
- Shake together thoroughly with the lid on until contents are evenly mixed.
- Dole out one to two tablespoons per day, per goat
I usually give this mix a feeding time. For my milkers, they get it while they're on the stand being milked. I just grab a handful and mix it in with their little bit of grain. I do the same for everyone else, wherever they're eating.
The wormer is the only thing I worry about because the dose is never precise. So far, its worked out just fine but I do keep tabs on worm load. The last time I had the vet check for worms, it came back negative - as in, there were none to count, which is unusual. God bless Molly's herbal wormer and my dry/cold climate!
Make sure as you're using this natural supplement that you're feeding a generous and balanced diet of other foods to your goats. Grow a lot of nutritional produce for them in your garden, share your fresh herbs and have them be your weeders to help clear the non-toxic, "extra" plants from your property. Research what will grow well and abundantly in your climate and area - this is God's way of telling us He wants us to eat local.
Always do your own research as regards your livestock's health and well being. Consult local vets and other farmers/homesteaders. Check selenium levels in your area and figure out what the common bad bugs are for your specific area.