What Goats Can't Eat Around Your Homestead Including Table Scraps!

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Waste not, want not. Right?!

If that were only true with our caprine counterparts! Goats are browsing animals, and while they won’t eat anything contrary to popular belief, they will eat a lot of things if placed in front of them. Certainly a nibble to two! If you had to identify plants on your farm or homestead that were potentially harmful to your hooved friends, could you? Don’t be alarmed, I couldn’t all the time either! Good thing there are resources for that at our fingertips. I want to cover a few things you might have growing in your pasture, things you might think are okay to have them try that are plant based, and then wrapping up with good ole table scraps that might be detrimental for goats when ingested.

Everyone enjoys a well-manicured and landscaped front lawn, especially if you have goats because they ruin everything else! I’ll be the first to tell you I have three commonly used plants on my farm that are toxic to goats. Boxwood, larkspur and lupines! I mention these because of their commonality at nurseries. When ingested in a decent amount, they can do some harm to goats. At least some gastrointestinal upset. Another common thing I see a lot, okay almost everywhere, oak trees. Green leaves found on yellow, black and red oak trees are very high in tannins, which can cause some kidney and liver issues if ingested in larger amounts. Be careful about oak trees dropping their leaves into water sources too. Tannins can be leached from the leaves via that route as well. Now remember, this is green leaves we are talking about. I have tons of oak trees on my property, hence my farm name Wild Oak Farms. Azaleas are another one to potentially plant away from goat bellies, they can cause an irregular heartbeat. These are just a few of the common things found at local garden store that we seek out to plant! They are okay to have on the property, but let’s keep the pet goats clear from them!

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In addition to things we can choose to plant, you may have some weeds just naturally growing that at the very least you will want to identify.  Common poppy, wild parsnip and horse nettle. If you have any land, especially unkempt I can promise you will find one of the above (of course depending on geographic location).  Don’t believe the old wives tale that a goat knows the difference between a bad and good plant. However, if a goat has adequate nutrition specifically forage and hay you should be just fine.

Onto the good old pantry raid. Just like with our companion animals dogs and cats, goats shouldn’t consume many human foods either. Sure blueberries, carrots, and some good ole homegrown cabbage is fine. My dog even eats all of those things! But, just like other animals goats shouldn't have things like garlic, onion, chocolate or any source of caffeine to name a few. Although most goats wouldn’t eat leftover meat scraps, they shouldn’t be offered them either. Citrus fruit should also be avoided, it can really upset the rumen. Banana and apple are great fruit options that most goats really love, and provide a good way of administering medication as well!

As a good rule of thumb, a good pasture or hay source and potentially a nice ration of pellets or grain mixed specifically for goats is something you can stick with and your goats will still be just as happy and healthy!

Mandi Chamberlain

Mandi Chamberlain

Hi everyone! My name is Mandi. I am a registered veterinary nurse, who fell in love with the art of living slow so I moved to the country. Most who know me would say I do anything but live slow these days though! I live on just over 4 acres in the Midwest. I raise a herd of registered Nubian dairy goats, a tribe of chickens, and a large garden. I have a huge passion for learning, and then teaching others what I have learned. I find country life to be rewarding and challenging every single day, but I wouldn't trade a thing. Thanks for joining me! I am here to help with anything!

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