Feeding goats whole sunflower seeds is a common practice among both small- and large-scale goat owners to help boost their goats' nutritional intake. Black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS), the type of sunflower seed goat owners typically use, are a good source of fiber (the sunflower seed shells) and protein (the sunflower seed meat), according to MoatsClearCreekFarms.com. Other benefits of feeding your goats whole, black oil sunflower seeds include improved milk production and butterfat in lactating does, as well as increased energy and a shinier, healthier coat for all your goats from the sunflower seed oil.
Purchase your BOSS. Local garden or farm supply stores typically stock black oil sunflower seeds in bags ranging from 10 to 100 pounds in size. These bags are often on sale during the early fall, so you may be able to purchase multiple bags of black oil sunflower seeds at a discounted price at that time of year, depending upon where you live and how many goats you plan to feed.
Place your BOSS in a secure location on your farm. When you bring the BOSS home, store it in a location that is inaccessible to your goats, preferably an area of your barn or garage that your goats do not inhabit. Goats are notoriously greedy animals, and given the opportunity, they will consume an entire bag of black oil sunflower seeds in one afternoon escapade, which usually results in severe digestive problems and possibly death. Plastic or metal garbage cans with tight-fitting lids provide excellent storage containers that prevent rodents from snacking on the feed as well, but secure the lids with an additional strap, such as a rubber tie-down, attached to the two handles.
Determine your goats' nutritional needs. Visually assess their coats, noting on their health records any that have dull hair. Run your hand over their backs, as well, feeling their ribs and hips to identify any goats that may be thinner and need additional protein and fat added to their diet. Check milking records if you have any lactating does to determine which goats need additional nutritional supplementation to help bring milk production up. Be sure to record your observations on each goat's health chart so you can refer back to them after introducing the BOSS to your goats' daily feed ration.
Introduce the BOSS gradually to your goats to reduce their chances of developing digestive problems or bloating. Start by adding about 1/4 cup of BOSS to each goat's daily grain ration, mixing the whole sunflower seeds into the grain thoroughly before feeding your goats. Most goats enjoy eating black oil sunflower seeds and should consume them readily; however, introducing the BOSS slowly should help any finicky eaters develop a taste for this supplement.
Measure accurately to minimize digestive problems and maintain healthy rumen (stomach) activity. Once your goats have gone 1 week without problems consuming the BOSS, you can begin to increase the amounts you're feeding by another 1/4 cup per week. If your goats just need additional shine in their coats, simply keep feeding 1/4 to 1/2 cup daily. Feed up to 1 cup more BOSS daily to any goats that you think need additional weight gain and increased milk production.