The Underweight Goat: A Nourishing Regimen for Productive Weight Gain

Disclosure: This post may contain Amazon Affiliate Links, from which I will earn a commission.

Whether you have just rescued a goat, have one bouncing back from a rough parasite load, or just need to get weight on that hard keeper—putting weight on a goat is a whole body endeavor; you need to nourish and supplement in many ways to help the goat rebuild a healthy body condition.

Why a goat may be underweight:

  • Parasites

Parasites can cause rapid or gradual weight loss. This will often be accompanied by anemia, diarrhea, or other symptoms of a worm infestation. If you are unsure of the cause of a skinny goat, run a fecal test for parasites and treat them accordingly. A goat will not be able to gain weight while burdened by a parasite load.

  • Mineral Deficiencies

Mineral deficiencies (specifically copper deficiency) can cause weight loss. Usually this goes along with parasite issues, but be sure to know the signs of mineral deficiencies and treat them as needed; this is a necessary step in weight gain.

  • Nutritional Issues

Weight loss that comes from nutritional issues simply means that a goat has lost weight because of improper feeding. Lactating does may lose condition because they do not consume enough protein. This does not mean a goat is being cared for improperly or neglected, just that they require some more “groceries” in their diet to keep them healthy.

  • Disease

Certain diseases such as Johnes Disease can cause weight loss in goats. Be sure to routinely test your goats for diseases.

This is a goat belonging to one of my clients, she suffered from mineral deficiencies and a very poor body condition. I began working on this case in August of 2020, as you can see on the image. This sweet doe has improved drastically–with a carefully-planned regimen and a very diligent owner:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_9801.jpg

Once you determine and treat the cause of being underweight, recovery is a fairly generic regarding the feeding regimen. Here’s what I recommend, and remember, we must nourish all parts of the body—weight gain is not just about protein and calories. 


  1. Feedstuffs

Hay should be available free choice. For most goats, this consists of grass hay; if you feed your goats alfalfa hay, you may need less of the alfalfa which will mentioned later on.

A balanced goat pelleted grain is a good baseline for a weight-gain diet. Sweet feed will have empty nutrients and sugars—avoid feeding this. On top of a pelleted grain, you will want to add beet pulp and alfalfa pellets. Beet pulp is exceptional for putting weight on goats, and alfalfa is necessary as well. Everyone has different available feedstuffs, so here are a few good weight gain rations you can decide between:

1 part Balanced Goat Pellet

1 part Beet Pulp

1 part Alfalfa Pellets


2 parts whole oats

1 part rolled barley

1 part mixed field peas

Top with 1-2TBSP Black Oil Sunflower Seeds or 1-2tsp Flax Seed/Meal.

Mix this half and half with alfalfa pellets.

Add beet pulp as needed.


2 parts Alfalfa pellets

1 part Beet Pulp

1 part Oats (whole)

1/2 part Timothy pellets

Topped with 1-2 TBSP Black Oil Sunflower Seeds


2 parts Alfalfa Pellets

1 part Oats (whole)

Calf Manna according to weight/need

1/2 part Beet Pulp

Optionally Topped with 1-2 TBSP Black Oil Sunflower Seeds


NOTE: If you are putting weight on a MALE goat (buck or wether), it is very important that you achieve a careful balance of feedstuffs. There are many options for feeds for male goats, but for underweight males in particular, these are my two favorite options that allow for the most generalization (note: if either of these do not work for you, don’t hesitate to reach out for a private consultation to learn about the options that best suit you and your goats).

If the goat is drinking hard water/well water/high calcium water: 

1 part Balanced 2:1 Goat Pellet

1 part Timothy pellets

Calf Manna according to weight/need

Topped with 1-2 TSP Flax Meal or Seeds

((EXTRA SAFETY/UC PREVENTION NOTES FOR MALES: I recommend adding a splash of raw apple cider vinegar to the goat’s water bucket daily, and a 2-3x weekly “pulse dose” of ammonium chloride is also a good idea. Ensure that free choice kelp meal is offered 24/7 to finalize the balance of the feed).


Normal/filtered/softened water:

1 part Alfalfa pellets

1 part Timothy pellets

1 part Balanced 2:1 goat pellet.

1/2 part Beet Pulp

Topped with 1-2 TSP Flax Meal or Seeds.

(EXTRA SAFETY/UC PREVENTION NOTES FOR MALES: I recommend adding 1 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar to the beet pulp/feed mix per week, and a 2-3x weekly “pulse dose” of ammonium chloride is also a good idea).

2. Supplements

Dark Beer – Drench/offer if the goat enjoys it 4-6 oz (4oz for mini, 6oz for standard) of room temperature dark beer. Leave it in a bowl to sit on your counter to warm and flatten. Dose 1-2x per day for 1 week straight, then give twice a week thereafter. Dark beer contains healthy microbes for the gut, it is my go-to for malnourished goats, and is a complete life-saver!

Dyne High Calorie Liquid – Dyne is a liquid drench which provides calories and nutrients in a concentrated form. I recommend this daily while a goat is critically underweight.

Probiotics – My preferred form of daily probiotics is Probios Bovine Gel. Dose daily for at least 1 month. If the rumen is not functioning properly, it will not efficiently utilize the feed you are providing.

Vitamin B B Vitamins are essential to rumen health, blood building, and the overall wellbeing of a goat. Give Fortified Vitamin B Complex injections once a day for 1 week straight. If a goat is recovering from anemia-related weight loss, give once a week until fully recovered.

Garlic – To support the underweight goat’s immune system and overall health, be sure to feed daily raw garlic. For a goat that has not been on a regular garlic regimen, feed 2-3 cloves daily for 3-5 days, then one clove daily thereafter.

If a goat is struggling with gut health (diarrhea accompanying weight loss, decreased appetite, slow rumen) I like these two herbal formulas:

Initial cleanse: LOH GI Back on Tract –

Routine support: Fir Meadow LLC GI Soother –

Putting weight on an underweight goat is not a quick process. Introduce new things slowly, and don’t feel rushed to give the full amount of feed all at once. An underweight goat’s rumen will not be expecting the large amounts of protein and calories that needs to be provided, so start slow and build up. Have patience! As always, if you have an underweight goat (or are questioning if one is underweight) and you would like one-on-one help to discuss your situation and regimen, contact me via email, Instagram DMs, or Facebook Messenger and I would be happy to help—all of my consulting is pay-what-you-can, there is no charge, but donations to support the work that I do are always appreciated.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet, nor am I a licensed professional. I am in no way a “goat expert” and my opinions are only that of personal experiences, and my insights shared are not medical treatment suggestions, care suggestions, or any directions for raising goats at all. I am simply sharing my own personal opinions. Any and all changes to your goats’ health regimen, care, etc. should be approved by a veterinary professional or licensed professional. I also believe that every goat owner has their own way of doing things, so just as my opinions are my own, and cannot apply to anyone else, your opinions are also regarding your individual goats, and I welcome you to share them in a kind, constructive manner. Disclosure: This post may contain Amazon Affiliate Links, from which I will earn a commission

11 thoughts on “The Underweight Goat: A Nourishing Regimen for Productive Weight Gain

  1. Had a goat go missing, gone for at least a week. With my neighbor our search completed and she was found alive! She was found in a hole 6 ft deep. Being without food and water for that period had her extremely weak. Altho she is eating she has not regained her footing . I thought maybe her legs went to sleep under her and with several attempts to help her she will get up but not for long until she’s laying again. Her appetite is great back to normal I give her hydration hay so she doesn’t dehydrate. calf mana, beet pulp, and sweet feed. I at a loss on what to do to help her regain her footing . I don’t want to have to put her down because she and her sister had been together since birth and through the missing period I found she was never far from where she was trapped. Reason was the hay had not been cut and the hole could not be seen until it was cut the day she was found.


    1. Hi Rose, please feel free to send me a message via email ( so we can work together to help her out. I would make sure to get a fecal test done for parasites and have her checked for bodily injury to legs, spine, etc., as well.


  2. I raise Kiko goats, on browse. I have one doe that has always been a bit underweight. She lost quite a bit while nursing her twins. I sold her twins a little earlier than I normally would because of her weight. They have been getting a ration of alfalfa pellets, calf manna type product, and an oat based sweet feed that I use for my horse. It’s a 4:1:1 ratio. I try to separate her out to give her one meal of alfalfa/calf manna 1:1. After reading this I will pick up some beet pulp. The ideal when raising commercial goats is to have to put in as little as possible. This will be her last chance to put on weight or I will have no choice but to cull her. And yes, I have given probiotics.


    1. Hi Karen,
      I completely understand that when raising commercial goats you want to continue high quality lines and not have to put in excess effort putting weight on a goat. Have you done a fecal on this doe to ensure she isn’t suffering from parasites? That would be my first thing to do. Feel free to email me at to discuss more!


  3. Hello, can you be more specific on which “dark beer” you suggest? A lager, ale…? I want to work on rebuilding the rumen.


    1. Hi there! As long as it isn’t a light beer, it’s going to have the beneficial microbes. You could find a light or dark lager or ale, so I personally prefer Guinness brand dark beer to keep things simple–it is tried and true! Hope that helps!


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