Horses and goats make excellent friends. With horses being so curious, it is only a matter of time before they break into the rooms where feed is stored. Thus, it is only natural to ask yourself: can horses eat goat feed?
Horses cannot eat goat feed. Most cattle feed, including many goat feeds, included an ingredient called monensin sodium (common trade name Rumensin) that causes cardiac failure in horses. Horses that may survive are irreducibly damaged. Any feed given to horses must be monesin-free.
Since horses cannot eat goat feed due to monensin sodium, you might be tempted to give your goat horse feed. However, goats can’t eat most horse feeds. Also, monesin prevents certain diseases in goats. It is important to understand what minerals both horses and goats can eat and why some cause harm.
Why Goat Feed Is Toxic to Horses
Monensin, often traded under Rumensin, is a common ingredient in cattle feed. It helps cattle produce more milk and prevents coccidiosis, a condition rare in horses but potentially deadly to goats. However, in horses, monensin impacts cells’ ability to transport sodium and potassium, leading to ionophore toxicity. This causes heart failure in horses.
Symptoms of Monensin Toxicity in Horses
Horse owners should know the symptoms of monensin toxicity in horses even if they don’t own goats or other cattle. Your horse feed could be contaminated due to factory error, or your horse escaped, wandering into a neighboring farm where goat and cattle feed is present.
Signs of monensin toxicity include:
- Abdominal pain
- Prominent jugular pulse
- Muscle weakness
- Cold extremities
- Congested or pale mucous membranes
- Dark urine
- Increased urine
- Shortness of breath and/or rapid breathing
- Struggle or inability to stand
- Cardiac Failure
Please note, there is no cure for monensin toxicity. However, there are some treatments that may save your horse’s life. If you suspect your horse has monensin toxicity, contact your vet immediately.
Why Horse Feed is Bad for Goats
Horse feed is not suitable for your goat. While it is not as dangerous as giving horse’s goat feed, horse feed is high in copper. Too much copper in goats is toxic. Copper poisoning hurts the liver, and signs include sweet-smelling, colored urine.
Thus, you might be tempted to give your goat a monensin-free goat feed in order to protect your horse. However, this runs the risk of your goat contracting coccidiosis, a parasite that enjoys living in the intestines of goats. While small amounts of the parasite may cause no adverse effects, a significant case can cause diarrhea and other problems.
Keeping Your Horse Out of the Goat Feed
Goat and cattle feed should always be kept away from your horse. Similarly, even goats should not have access to their stored feed, as they will overeat. Nor do you want your goat eating your horse feed. Therefore, you need to ensure that all feed is kept in locked containers.
A basic trashcan lid will not be enough to deter a goat. Nor do you want a container that a horse can knock over. Many horses are clever enough to lift a lid.
If you can’t find a tub strong enough to keep your goat and horse out, get creative. Some people have used broken-down chest freezers and commercial ice makers for feed storage. Add a padlock, and this should keep your mischievous animals out.
If your animals are proving too clever, you may want to consider storing their feed in a location they can’t access, such as your house. The place must be cool and dry. Do make sure any household pets, such as dogs and cats, can’t access the food. Keep an eye out for vermin, such as rats.
Also, remember to keep your horse’s lick in its stall, away from the goat. Keep the goat’s lick where the horse can’t get to it. If this proves difficult, consider using a food supplement instead, adding it to the animal’s daily feed.
Horse feed vs. Goat feed
Since horses and goats can’t eat the same commercial feed, you might wonder what other foods they can share.
|Types of Feed||Fine for Horses||Fine for Goats|
|Oats||Yes, but it often requires soaking.||Yes|
|Corn||Generally, avoid fresh or cracked corn and stick to what is in their feed.||Yes, in small amounts.|
|Beet Pulp||Yes, preferably soaked.||Yes|
|Black Oil Sunflower Seeds||Yes||Yes|
|Kelp Meal||Yes, but keep an eye on iodine levels.||Yes|
|Apple Cider Vinegar||Yes||Yes|
Is Goat Mineral Safe for Horses?
Horses and goats both need minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. However, horses and goats require different amounts and ratios. Thus, it is best to keep the animal’s mineral supplements and licks apart from each other.
What You Should Never Feed Your Horse
In addition to not giving your horse goat feed, there are other foods you should avoid.
- Potatoes and other nightshades
- Garlic and onions
- Lawn clippings
- Dog and cat food
What you Should Never Feed Your Goat
- Garlic and onions
- Rhubarb leaves
- Dog and cat food
For more information on what plants are poisonous to goats, visit this link: http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/goatlist.html
Feeding Your Horse and Goat Fruits
Horses and goats both love fruit as a treat. Below are some safe fruits for both horses and goats in small, snack-size quantities.
- Apples, sliced, and pips removed.
- Peaches, with stone removed.
- Apricots, with stone removed.
Feeding Your Horse and Goat Vegetables
Like fruits, there are many vegetables your horse and goat can both eat as treats.
- Carrots, preferably chopped to suit the animal’s size.
- Cucumber, preferably chopped to suit the animal’s size.
Horses and goats can make great companions and share a pasture. There are even foods they can share. However, horses should not be fed goat feed, and goats should not be fed horse feed. Also, while horses and goats can be fed similar treats and minerals, the quantiles might be vastly different.