Can goats eat anything?

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Why Is My Goat Eating Everything?

It’s a problem that plagues most goat owners – why do goats have a terrible habit of trying to eat everything they come in contact with? When they’re playfully nibbling at your shirt sleeve it can be cute. But the moment your goat starts eating or tasting things that are bad for them, you’ve got a host of health problems on your hands. Let’s explore why goats have this worrisome habit, what they can and cannot eat and what you should do if your goat ate something he or she shouldn’t have.

Why Do They Do It?

Goats are extremely curious and have no tastebuds. This combination means that they try to taste and eat things that other animals wouldn’t touch. Goats browse rather than graze. If left to their own devices, they will eat a wide variety of things they come across.

That isn’t to say that a goat will eat anything and everything. Although they cannot taste, they will definitely express preferences for some textures over others and this is specific to your goat. Some goats will only eat tender shoots and ignore taller, drier grass. Some goats love eating the bark off apple trees. Goats have even been known to refuse low quality hay if they get a taste of a more expensive brand.

What Should Your Goat Never Eat

All that being said, goats will eat things that are inedible just because they want to. Goats have been known to eat garbage such as tin cans, carpet and twine. It’s possible they do so because the texture mimics organic material. Overall, it’s safe to say you should never let your goat eat anything inorganic or man made. They won’t be able to digest it and it will kill them.

There are dozens and dozens of plants that are deadly to goats. Some of the most common include:

  • Allspice
  • Hellebore
  • Hemp
  • Nightshade
  • Cherry
  • Milkweed
  • Rhododendron
  • Wild Hydrangea
  • Buckwheat
  • Clover
  • Buttercups
  • And ironically, goat weed

A full and happily fed goat may be less likely to snack on other things it comes across. It’s believed that many goats will opt for the most nutritious food it finds over anything else. The best things to feed a goat include highly nutrient-rich hays like grass hays and legume hays. The average goat needs between two to four pounds of hay daily. You can also feed them alfalfa in pellet form if you’re short on storage space or if you want to try mixing it with grains.

It’s possible you aren’t watching your goats every second of the day, so if they find something they shouldn’t have eaten, you may not know. Goats who have eaten trash may still appear healthy and have normal bowel movements. However, if you notice that if your goat isn’t eating the hay or feed you provide them, it’s like something is wrong, especially if your goat is a pushy or aggressive eater.

If your goat gets into something odd or to much of something, I find that baking soda helps keep the bloating down. Put some in a dish and make sure it is out of the weather. You may consider hanging it up high so that they can not defecate in the dish.

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