There are many myths and questions about goat eating habits and “can goats eat chocolate” is one of them. If you are a farmer or simply curious about goats, this is a must-read article as it will debunk such myths and provide you with basic knowledge about goat digestion and the food they can consume.
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Can goats eat anything?
This is absolutely wrong. Though goats may be found eating paper, plastic and even wires, what matters is whether they can digest or eventually die eating such things.
Firstly, goats are herbivores, so they surely cannot digest meat.
Besides, just like us, when goats eat too much of something bad for them, the balance in their digestive system will be disrupted and they are in danger.
Studies have shown that their digestive system is so sensitive that it needs to stay in balance and is not able to handle sudden changes. Goats get used to the feed we give them. Afterward, it is challenging to change their diet.
Truth be told, there is not only one type of bacteria in the stomach of goats that facilitates the food digestion. While some types can deal with grass, others can deal with grains. When goats eat a type of food, the type of bacteria compatible with it will dominate. So, if a goat that has only been fed on grass is suddenly given grains, it might face so much trouble that it might die from it.
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Will goats know what food is poisonous for them?
Goats do not have a mysterious sense of recognizing poisonous plants.
The way they forage misleads us into assuming that they are considering edible plants. In fact, when goats forage, they smell and taste everything here and there, including poisonous plants for them and then judge their liking.
For example, goats will spit foxglove leave out the moment they take a bite of its. This is because the foxglove does not taste good to goats. And if goats happen to try azaleas, they will continue to eat it because it tastes much better than foxglove, given that it is poisonous for them.
However, not all plants are equally toxic and just a bite does not always make goats drop dead. Only a lethal dose of poison would make them sick or kill them. This only happens when the azaleas are the only plant available in their forage area. Otherwise, it is not likely to happen due to the way they forage.
And, can goats eat chocolate?
Different chocolate contents exert different effects on different animals.
As the theobromine found in chocolate is poisonous to goats, chocolate must be excluded from the goat feed. Even though they can be tolerant of a small amount of chocolate, providing their digestive system is strong, a large quantity of chocolate should be taken into careful consideration.
So, what food to give for goats?
Plants differ from areas. Therefore, be mindful that any list given can be incomplete and to be safe. If in doubt, research all plants before including it in your goat feed.
Here is the list of food given based on their liking and nutrition value.
First, goats like pasture. Secondly, pasture can provide goats with sufficient nutrition which helps the digestive process. A variety of pastures are available for goats, such as Sudan grass, Bahia grass, Sorghum, Millet and so on.
Hay is an alternative for cold or rainy days when goats can’t graze and pasture is unavailable. Grass hay seems to be a popular option as it is not only at a reasonable price but also of rich protein and nutrition. If your goats need a high protein intake, Alfalfa hay is a good choice. Other favorable hays are clover, soybean or lespedeza and vetch.
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Chaffhaye is actually alfalfa or grass chopped and sprayed with molasses at an early stage. Then they are put in a vacuum seal bag. During the fermentation process, beneficial bacteria is produced, and more nutrients, minerals and energy are added to the food. As keeping goats might harm their digestive system, a good bacteria provider like chaffhaye is really necessary.
4. Vitamins and minerals
Baking soda is one of the vitamin supplies which helps the goat solve the bloating problem. Calcium, phosphorus and salt can provide goats with minerals. Vitamin E, A and D are also needed. Vitamin E can be found in black oil sunflower seeds and help the goat enrich its milk and develop its reproductive system and muscles. Probiotics strengthen the function of the rumen. Kelp meal contains iodine to boost the production of milk. Also, the apple cider vinegar is a great source of enzyme and minerals which improve the immune system of goats.
5. Garden and kitchen scrap
Garden and kitchen scrap are truly a time and money-saving option. Banana peels, garlic skins, orange peels and tomato end can be used as they bring much nutrition to the animals. Human food like veggies, fresh and dried fruits can also be of great purpose.
It is essential to feed your goats with grain as it consists of protein and carbon. It is suggested that your goats are given a daily intake of grain however while mature goats can digest a feed with about 30-40% of grain, baby goats struggle to digest it properly. There are four different types of grains, including whole, pelleted, rolled and texturized that you can choose from.
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List of food you should never feed your goats:
- Plants with oxalates such as kale
- Any nightshade vegetable
- Holly trees or bushes
- Lily of the valley
- Rhubarb leaves
- Wild cherries
Please make sure that water and hay are available at all times as they are not only basic food but also can help neutralize mild poisoning.
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With an extremely sensitive digestive system, we learn that goats cannot eat everything and unluckily, most of them do not know what they should eat. Hence, better be safe than sorry and refrain them from eating poisonous things. I hope this article has given you an answer to the question of whether goats can digest chocolate and basic knowledge about goats to avoid unexpected accidents.