We are currently feeding our two milk goats and four kids Purina Goat Chow. Upon looking at the feed tags for both it and sweet feed for horses, there didn't seem much difference except price; with the goat chow $3.00 more for 50 lbs. The goat had slightly more protein. Any thoughts?
If you add to the horse and mule type sweet feeds than you are fine. Alone their protein level for milkers, growing kids, and heavily used bucks is to low. Also if the words animal protein, animal roughage or animal fat are on the tag, then your protein is from an undigestable source. But if you can find a good all-grain sweet feed, then dress it your self with BOSS and alfalfa pellets - maybe boosting the protein further for your youngsters and milkers with calfmanna, headstart, Purina's Animax or Nutrabooster. They are all just knock offs of each other. Most large feed companies have their own - they are small, pinkish pellets which are mostly soy. They will say "whey" or "animal products" on the feed tag because of the whey, since they are milk fed pellets for calves. Horse "anything" fed alone, even pellets can contain up to 25% per ton of molasses - way to high for any ruminants!
Sweet feed is fine for goats but there are sweet feeds that are specifically formulated for goats. Certain micronutrients in horse feeds are just not adequate for goats and some are excessive. I've never liked any feeds made by our "national feed companies" simply because they "least cost" everything, and rations often change right in the middle of production runs. Certainly most animal protein products should be avoided presently with so many "questions in the air" about them, but there are some extremely good animal protein products available...fish meal being one example. Animal fat is a very good ingredient though it has little or no protein. I have to disagree with Vicki on it's digestabilty.
The TDN on animal fat is over 180 with an NEl of 240 making it more than twice as digestable as corn with triple the energy. The products like Calf Manna, Animax, etc., or a good additive to a goat ration as these are usually extremely highly fortified with vitamins and minerals and most will have more than one yeast culture product in it which will keep the rumen operating at optimim levels. Some added roughage is good in these feeds also in the form of cottonseed hulls or soybean hulls. Soyhulls are much higher quality roughage and almost as digestable as corn but cottonseed hulls, though low in protein and digestability just do good things in the rumen that is difficult to explain. Avoid rice hulls at all costs....Be an expert of your feed dealer. Make him learn what is in his feeds. I would not want my goat feed to be over 9.5% crude fiber. Fiber for most of us can be purchased in better and less expensive forms than in the feed bag. As in all goat feeds, even dairy goat feed needs some ammonium chloride and it needs to be at levels that will be beneficial.
In the guaranteed analysis on the feed tag you can determine the amount of ammonium chloride in the feed by looking for the "Non Protein Nitrogen" disclosure directly below the guaranteed Crude Protein. A level of 1% would mean the feed has approximately 7.5 lbs. of ammonium chloride per ton. Look for a feed that discloses 2%. Goats need 15 lbs. of ammonium chloride per ton to get the amount needed daily for best results. Molasses can be added excessively to some feeds but anything less than 7.5% molasses will make for a pretty dry "sweet feed". Molasses has benefits also, not only in making for an attractive feed but also in the sugars it contains which are good for the rumen.
I myself sometimes throw a scoop of horse sweet into the goat's dish when I run out and the feed store is closed. I'll have to take a look at my blue seal bags tonight just for ha ha's. I do know that there is more copper per se, and maybe higher salt content as the mineral requirements may vary (they should anyway :-)
I think the only real difference is what is put in as ingredients. You have to be careful not to feed ruminants any proteins derived from certain animal parts, especially today with all the threats of the BSE, TSE and other variants that happened due to ruminants being fed animal-derived proteins. (mostly yuckie feed parts from nervous system regions, and other yummie things from what I understand). One of our local auctions requires you to send in a compliance form for this as they don't want to be in the middle of some crisis should it arise.
Take a look at the ingredients... you'd be suprised at how much "unique" stuff is in there, and how it can change season to season. Certain oils get rancid and get changed season to season, and as prices rise, your animal gets what ever is cheaper to mill. Talk about balanced nurtition eh?
Also, goat feed costs more then horse in your area????!!!! Here in Connecticut, the #1 state for horse denstiy per sq mi, you add the word horse, or equine to ANYTHING and you pay through your nose!! Goat Chow is always pricey though.
We feed horse sweet feed mixed with sunflower seeds , Alfalfa for more protein & cracked corn. Goat chow is way to high to buy when your feeding 77 goats! The Goat chow here costs $8.99 per $50 & I can get the Con Agra horse sweet feed for $4.25