What can goats eat? A guide to safe and unsafe foods for your goat. Get the free printable list of treats to hang up in your barn.
Before you buy any pet, it is best to research all you can about this animal so that you can care for it properly. Same goes for goats, the animals that are great for clearing your land by eating grass and weeds. You’ve probably heard before that goats will eat anything that is in sight! It is true that goats are not picky eaters, but they do require a certain diet in order to receive their daily vitamins, minerals and proteins. After all, if you’re raising goats for their meat or milk, you’d want them to be as healthy as possible.
What Can Goats Eat?
Goats are always on the hunt for more foods to try, which is why people believe that they will eat anything. Their eyes give them 320-340 degree vision, allowing them to see in nearly every direction. Additionally, that have great depth perception and are sensitive to movement. Goats have great noses and lip whiskers as well, which guide them to find foods around them. On average, goats can eat about two to four pounds of food a day. But what exactly can you feed your goats?
Hay and Chaffhaye
Since the majority of a goat’s diet consists of grass and hay. Hay is low in calories, but it isn’t a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. Hay is more of a filler food for a goat’s diet. Chaffhaye is much more beneficial for a goat’s diet. It is made from premature alfalfa or grass and combined with molasses. Healthy bacteria grows on chaffhaye, making this a great addition to a goat’s diet to maintain their gut health. It also provides nutrients and minerals to give the goat’s more energy.
Grain is another essential food for a goat’s diet. Grains add a sweet and delicious taste to a goat’s meal, and they also provide vitamins, minerals, protein and support for their digestive system. The four types of grain that you can add to a goat’s diet are:
- Whole grain – an unprocessed feed that can improve growth rate
- Pelleted grain – made from grain by-product that is cut into smaller pieces
- Rolled grain – whole grain, except it is rolled flat. Contains similar nutrition as whole grain
- Texturized grain – a molasses-based mix of grains
Fruits and vegetables are essential for our diet and for a goat’s diet as well. You can add some fruits and vegetables to your goat’s meals every day to provide more nutrients and minerals, as well as add a bit of variety.
Goats love to eat apples and they benefit from the carbohydrates, fibers, vitamins and a few proteins. However, be sure to cut the apples into small pieces before feeding to prevent your goat from choking. Apples are healthy and delicious treats that your goats will love.
Apricots provide iron, vitamins A, C and E and are also low in calories and fats. When feeding them to your goat, be sure to remove the apricot seed since it is not edible.
Goats love bananas, as well as banana peels! They will receive fiber, potassium and vitamins B and C.
Wild goats love to search for berries because they are tasty and provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Feed your goats all sorts of berries, but not on a regular basis. If they eat too many at once, it may take them a while to digest them completely. Goats also love grapes, and they’re a great addition to their meals because you don’t need to worry about seeds, and they are easy to chew. They also provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Grapefruit and oranges are healthy for goats. They love every part of them, including the peels. Goats will receive vitamin C, vitamin A and folate , but it is best to feed in moderation. Too much citrus will increase the acidity of a goat’s stomach which will put their digestive system a bit out of normality.
Honeydew provides carbohydrates to fuel your goat with energy. Vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium are also beneficial to your goat, but be sure to remove the seeds before feeding.
Mangoes, watermelon and peaches are also great fruits to feed your goat. They will provide all sorts of vitamins and minerals, fibers and carbohydrates. Remove any seeds before adding any of these fruits to your goat’s meal. Additionally, goats enjoy the peels of the mangoes and pretty much every part of the watermelon including the vines.
Now let’s talk about vegetables that you can feed your goat. Pumpkins, squash, zucchini and cucumbers are all great sources of nutrition for goats. These vegetables are great natural de-wormers. They provide vast amounts of vitamins A, B2, C and E, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium and iron.
Legumes are a great source of protein for goats. However, do not feed your goats uncooked dried beans. The entire corn plant can be eaten by goats, but the stalks and leaves should be fed with moderation. Though corn is an acceptable addition to your goat’s meal, it doesn’t provide too many benefits.
Goats love to eat lettuce, artichokes, sunflowers, carrots, celery, fennel and parsnips. They provide a wide range of nutrients such as calcium and magnesium. Celery supports the immune system, while carrots help protect against heart disease and improves your goat’s dental health!
Broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and turnips are all acceptable for a goat’s diet, but you must be careful to feed them only mature plants and in small quantities. Young plants contain glucosinolates, which can be very toxic to goats.
What NOT To Feed Your Goat
Though goats tend to eat a wide range of foods, there are a few that you need to watch out for because they are toxic and poisonous. Our stomachs can easily dissolve a toxin that is found in avocados, but goats’ stomachs are not able to. This toxin, persin, can kill your goats whether they eat the fruit, leaves or seeds of the avocado. Avoid feeding this to your goat at all costs. Cherries can give goats cyanide poisoning if they consume the fruit, seeds or leaves of cherries. Chocolate, dairy and meat should also be avoided, as well as nightshade vegetables such as eggplants, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. Nightshade vegetables contain solanine, which is toxic to goats.
Most of these vegetables and fruits can be considered as treats that you can feed your goats. It adds a variety of taste to their diet, and they provide your pets with lots of nutritious benefits! Additionally, it is important to have water available to your goats at all times. Clean their drinkers or bowls and remove any ice from the water during the winter.
Here’s a quick tip: put the water bucket or bowl in an old tire or somewhere off the ground to prevent the goats from pooping in it or knocking it over.
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