Goats/Keeping goats with chickens
QUESTION: Hello. I am new to raising goats, but have had chickens most of my life. I have a 2 year old Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf about the same age. The goats and chickens share the same yard and small barn. Should I be aware of any diseases that the goats could contract from the chickens? The goats sometimes eat some of the chicken feed, which is 16% Layer Vegetarian. They also get 12% All Stock and plenty of pasture weeds/brush and hay when needed. Could the chicken feed be harmful to them? They haven't had any problems and I would like to keep it that way. Any info would be appreciated.
ANSWER: Goats should never eat chicken feed. Chicken feed balls up together in the goat's intestines and can easily cause constipation and obstipation - both of these cause the goat not to be able to poop which is not a good thing for goats. If the ball of chicken feed (the reason it balls up is that it is not easily digested by the goats) is large enough surgery would be required to remove the obstruction. As to diseases, from my readings, it is possible that Avian influenza, brucellosis and some other diseases can be passed onto goats via chickens. If you have healthy chickens though the risk is most likely not as high. Hope this helps.
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QUESTION: Thank you for the quick response. If you don't mind, I have a couple of other questions. Can you tell me more about obstipation? The symptoms? Also, is there any mixture of feed that would be sufficient nutrition for both the goats and the laying hens? Thank you so much.
Obstipation is when there is something in the goat's intestines that is blocking all movement of poop. Constipation is the first step toward obstipation - this is where you would see no poop or only dry bits of poop pellets coming from the goat and many times the goat stands hunched up and looks "cold" with its hair standing up/fluffy. Use of human mineral oil given orally at 1/2 cup per 75 pounds of body weight once every two hours for two to three doses usually unclogs things within a few hours. Obstipation is where the blockage is so great that no oral medicine will help it push through and that is when surgery may be the only hope. Hope that helps.
As to nutrition for both, perhaps you could keep the regular chicken feed inside the chicken coop/sleep area where the goats cannot get to. If not, a general purpose livestock pelleted feed works well for goats and chickens do well on it. You would need to add another source of calcium though for layer hens as the livestock feed would not have enough calcium for their shell production - adding crushed oyster shells works well and goats generally stay away from that. Also, if you have browse available both goats and chickens like that and it is nutritious for both - browse is the underbrush around trees and also includes weeds. Hope that helps. Please feel free to ask whatever questions you have and I will do my best to answer them for you. Donna