Garden Crops that We Feed to our Dairy Goats
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
Several Home Garden Greens and Crops are good for both our Human Families as well as our Goats and Livestock Animals. But some are better than others, and some must be Avoided all together because they contain substances that are Toxic and cause Harm.
This article mainly identifies some of the most common garden plants and crops that have been proven safe and beneficial for Goats. By knowing what excess you could safely feed from the garden, you can cut down on the feed bill a bit, as well as fill in some of those missing vitamins and nutrients our local Hay and Feed has been lacking in.
You may even want to do as we do here at Sunshine Farms of Paisley Fl, and plant Extra crops in your garden spaces just for the Goats !
How many of us have had leftover Produce and Vegetable Stalks in our hands and have thought, can I give these to the Goats? As goat owners we tend to stay on the side of caution and when in doubt - throw it to the Chickens or the Compost -- BUT - what if --- its been tried and true that it is ok? Imagine all of the extra nutritional treats they could have!
NOTE -- It is NEVER a good idea to change the diet of any livestock animal suddenly - Especially Goats - so many of these plants MUST be introduced into a goats diet a little bit at a time. Goats can be susceptible to sudden changes - so introduce new plants slowly and observe.
This article will be discussing common Home Gardening Plants and Produce that have been tested on Goats and have not shown any adverse reactions when offered in controlled portions. Note: "Controlled Portions" because anything in excess
is harmful to Goats.
Always Cut up edible bite sized portions for Goats
and place them in a Clean receptacle for their consumption.
Strive to Never feed anything from the ground - for their healths sake.
These vegetables are all great sources of nutrition, vitamins and minerals, and are also considered to be beneficial in boosting a goats overall immune system.
Kale - (in a small portion)
Yes, goats may eat kale but only in limited quantities. Kale is potentially toxic for goats due to the presence of glucosinolates. Overconsumption could damage red blood cells and eventually cause anemia. However, when fed in moderation kale is packed with vitamins and minerals that will benefit goats.
Squash, Melons, Cucumbers
These Cucurbitaceae are all great sources of hydration and nutrition and are also considered to be natural intestinal Dewormers. Pumpkins have high levels of vitamin A and E as well as folate and fiber. Although they are mostly water (roughly 85%), they can make a reasonable protein supplement for most all livestock. Pumpkins and Winter Squashes can be cured and stored so that they can be fed to the herd throughout the winter months.
Pumpkins and Gourds
Melons (Watermelon, Sugar Melon, Cantaloupes)
Fresh Green Beans (avoid uncooked dried beans) and Peas as well as the plants make nutritious, high-protein treats. These vegetables rank second only to grains as our most important food source.
Corn and other Field Crops
Corn is best fed in moderation because although it is high in carbohydrates, it is low in protein and nutritional value. The entire plant is edible, Corn is safe for Goats in small amounts and it does contain a certain amount of Calcium, which, in excess, can contribute to the onset of urinary calculi in bucks. Many field crops can be made into Silage for winter use, as well as dried and stored for winter feeding.
Sunflower seeds, also known as "BOSS" (black oil sunflower seeds) contain Vitamin E, Zinc, Iron, Selenium. Feeding them also adds high Fiber and Fat to your goats diet. They make the goats' coat shinier and also increase the butterfat in the dairy goats milk.
Soybean or Peanut Crops
Corn (and Stalks too!)
Bahai - Clover Cover Crops
Sorghum - Vetch
Cereal Grain Crops
Barley - Alfalfa Crops
Roots and Salads
Packing a whopping 28% protein Jerusalem Artichokes are a good source of minerals and electrolytes, especially Potassium, Iron, and Copper. The tops and roots can be fed and are nutritious for them.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for goats, and also a good source of fiber. Carrots can be fed to goats fresh or cooked, but you want to make sure you feed them small carrots or ones that have been cut into pieces so they are easy for them to chew and swallow. No surprises here. Goats are strictly herbivores, and carrots are one of the best and tastiest veggies around so it makes sense they would enjoy them.
Goats tend to love the plants from this family. The sweet juices in fruits definitely satisfy their sweet tooth. Be aware that too much fruit can cause scours. Always remove large pits from fruits that contain them to avoid choking.
Peaches (remove pit)
Strawberries - small portion
Grapes (and raisins)
Mangos (remove pit)
Plums (remove pit)
NO AVACADO - NO CHERRY -
Both are TOXIC
Herbs and other
Goats tend to just "Browse" the herbs and choose the leaves and stems that their system needs to balance their bodies. Many of the herbs contain healing properties as well as guards against intestinal worms.
Comfrey (small portions)
Moringa Leaves / Tree
Blackberry Raspberry Vines
Dogwood, Elm, Ash, Mulberry
Cottonwood Fir, Pine, Juniper Bush
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-Bought Produce
Another thing you’ll need to be aware of when serving produce to goats is the possibility of pesticide residue on store-bought items.
Pesticides are chemicals used to kill bugs and can be very harmful to goats if ingested in large enough quantities.
While there is no need to panic if your goats eat an occasional carrot that has some pesticide residue on it, you should avoid feeding them any produce that have been treated with heavy pesticides.
The best way to avoid giving your goats pesticide-laden produce is to buy them in organic varieties or grow your own. This way you can be sure of what pesticides if any, were used on the carrots.
" The DIRTY DOZEN " Top 12 Store-Bought Produce items that have tested with the highest amount of Pesticides contained on / in them.
NOT Good for Goats
NOT Good for Us !
-- Buy from Local Organic Farmers
-- Learn to Grow your Own Organic Food
A Milking Animal's Diet Can Alter the Taste of Dairy Milk
Some greens can add flavors to the Goat Milk. This is something that we have not experienced ourselves, but have heard stories from other Home Dairies.
Those with sensitive taste buds could want to experiment before feeding large quantities of any certain item to their dairy goats.
With that said, we have chosen to make it a point to not feed any "alliums " to our goats,
as well as plants from the " solanaceous " family like Tomatoes, Potatoes, or Peppers due to the possible toxicity of these items and the lack of definite answers in that regard.
Alliums Family Onions --- All Onion/Chives/Garlics
Solanaceae = Nightshade Family -- Tomato/Potato/Eggplant/Peppers
End of Season Gardens
Beyond Milking Treats, a Goat Herd functions as a great destination for large scale vegetation control, where there are times when we want to clear the gardens of produce and vegetation at once, particularly in the fall as the threat of frost looms. Feeding out cartloads of Organic Gardening vegetation and greenery saves us moving fences to new paddocks as frequently.
It is not Implied that this list is all inclusive - this is the guideline that we use for our own goats here at Sunshine Farms of Paisley, Florida.
We are all learning everyday new items to add or or remove - this article is intended as a Guide. Always consult your Veterinarian before making any Diet Changing Choices for your Livestock.
BE SURE TO MEMORIZE
The Plants / Produce / Vegetation that are TOXIC to Goats --
This is No Joke - MANY Goats Die every day because of a Toxic food that was
offered to them as forage. Inspect your Pastures - Look Up new foods before you Offer them to your livestock animals. Practice Good Goat Husbandry -- and Do Your Research
See our other posting titled " Pasture Plants that can Harm Goats"