Do Goats Really Eat Anything? Our Goat Expert Explains

Have you ever wondered, will goats really eat anything? There’s often a perception that goats will merrily stand there munching on a tin can, a shirt, an old shoe, or anything else they can get their mouths around! However, the reality of things may be more complicated than this, and this perception may be somewhat distorted by the massive powers that Hollywood movies have over our perceptions of things. And don’t get me wrong – it’s something I always believed of goats before owning them, too! With this thought in mind, today, we’re looking at a few key questions: will goats eat anything, and if not, why do people think goats will eat everything? 

What Do Goats Eat?

Before we look further, perhaps we should first consider what goats are naturally supposed to eat. As browsers by nature, goats naturally prefer to have a pretty diverse and varied diet; this means that, when they are given the chance, they will seek out numerous different forages as part of their diet. However, among their favorite foods include tree leaves, weeds, and grasses – each of which would naturally be consumed in moderation.

As a ruminant, after consuming these forages, goats will then take a rest from eating to regurgitate the food, which allows them to chew it more thoroughly in a relaxed environment. This allows them to break down highly fibrous foods that other species – such as us as humans – would have trouble with digesting naturally.

The Myth That Goats Will Eat Anything 

There’s generally a myth that goats will eat anything. This might leave you wondering, why do goats everything put in front of them? This was something I thought, as well, when getting into goats, too. But, the reality is actually much more complex since goats are surprisingly finickity animals when it comes to food.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. For example, while many goats will happily eat straw bedding from the ground, if their hay should fall to the floor, they likely won’t touch it! This “fussiness” may actually help goats avoid taking in worms from the bedding or pasture, however, so it’s not entirely bad. Still, as a new goat keeper, it can be a little frustrating to work out how to feed goats without them wasting half of what you give them!

Why Some Goats Might Seem to Eat Everything 

While goats are incredibly fussy with most foods, they are also exceptionally curious and typically have a tendency to nibble on things – the edges of old t-shirts and wellies are a testament to that! Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that goats will eat anything; rather, it just means they will likely nibble on a lot of things out of curiosity. This can, of course, present a risk – you wouldn’t want your goats nibbling on a plastic wrapper that’s found its way into your fields, for example.

What Farmers Can Do To Prevent Goats from Eating Everything

Since goats will attempt to nibble everything – even if they’re not necessarily likely to eat it entirely – taking steps to prevent this is vital. There are two key factors you should consider in this regard.

First, you must ensure that your goats have access to a healthy diet that’s suitable for their mineral and nutritional requirements. Every goat is different, of course, so a nutritionist’s guidance is best sought in this regard. Minerals can be especially tricky to get right, but a blood mineral analysis by your veterinarian could give you an idea of what minerals your goats are lacking. Ensuring they have a suitable (palatable) diet will potentially help stop them from looking for trouble and things to eat.

Secondly, you should always strive to keep things that you don’t want your goat to eat out of their pen. Be on the lookout for poisonous plants, plastic wrappers, or anything else that might be possible for your goats to eat. Removing these from the pen is really the only way to stop your goats from eating them for certain.

Finally, make sure your pens are secure! Some goats can be troublemakers, and others are escape artists. Put this together, and your goats could potentially get out and end up eating things you don’t want them to. Keeping fencelines secure and strong is a great way to avoid this becoming a significant risk.

Tips for Keeping your Goat Healthy and Happy 

In addition to the aforementioned points, we strongly recommend you consider the following three tips to keep your goats happy and healthy:

  1. Check their body condition regularly to ensure they’re not losing weight (or gaining too much) which could compromise their health
  2. Always provide suitable shelter from the elements for your goats in all weather conditions
  3. Provide goats with toys or enrichment in their pens to help keep their minds engaged (and stop them from looking for trouble!)

Final Thoughts

It’s not always easy to outline questions such as, “why do people think goats eat everything,” since there are naturally numerous contributing factors to this. But, while many people assume goats will eat anything, they are actually much pickier than you might realize. Well, when it suits them – sometimes, there really is no judging what a goat will or won’t eat! With this in mind, when keeping goats, either for pets or as a farm animal, it’s important to ensure they are kept away from anything you don’t want them to eat, just in case.

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