If you’re considering bringing in a goat to join the family, you undeniably have plenty of questions. One of the most prominent questions is regarding diet. Many people wonder if their hollow-horned mammals are indeed herbivores or if they dabble in other types of food, such as meat.
Goats are designed with a unique digestive system that allows them to live on a solely plant-based diet. However, although goats are herbivores and should not consume meat or meat products, they are known for their adventurous palette and may nibble on meat if given the opportunity. This should be avoided, though, as meat consumption can lead to distress of varying degrees.
Getting your mammal’s diet just right is key to a happy and healthy goat. That said, it’s essential to know what should – and what should not – be a part of their nourishment. If you have questions about meat and meat products specifically, keep reading.
Do Goats Eat Meat?
Goats do not eat meat. They are strictly herbivores.
That’s not to say they won’t nibble on meat or meat products if they’re presented with them. Goats are browsers and relatively adventurous eaters, so they may take a bite or two.
The good news is that goats aren’t particularly fond of meat and likely won’t have more than a bite or two, which shouldn’t cause too many digestive issues (if any).
Goats are happier when they have things to play with. Look through these Goat Toys on Amazon for inventive feeders and large balls or toys for your goats.
What Happens if Goats Eat Meat?
If a goat has a small bite of meat, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. However, regular and large meat consumption can be detrimental to your goat’s health. Here are the top five potential side effects of a goat consuming meat or meat products:
Even small portions of meat can cause your goat to have an upset stomach. Bloating, diarrhea and vomiting can occur within 24 hours of eating the meat.
That’s because goats require a plant-based, fiber-rich diet. The roughage passes through the rumen and multiple stomachs, ensuring that the goat absorbs the highest level of energy and nutrients. When an influx of meat is consumed, the rumen (alkaline part of a goat’s digestive system) becomes acidic, creating an accumulation of gasses.
Humans consume meat for many reasons, but one primary reason is the high protein content. While this is fine for certain species, goats are unable to break down the high levels of protein, which can cause kidney failure.
A goat’s stomach is specifically designed to digest plant material, not meat. Since the digestive system is incapable of breaking down the meat efficiently, it will sit in the stomach for an extended period, causing toxin build-up. This is not only dangerous for the goat, but it can contaminate the milk it produces.
A goat’s stomach lacks the essential microbes and bacteria to break down meat and meat products. That said, the goat will not absorb any nutrients that other species – such as people, dogs, ducks, etc. – incorporate. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can wear and tear on the goat’s health.
Not only that, but the lack of appropriate gut microbes and bacteria can cause a delay in digestion. The food will sit in the stomach, causing the goat to feel full and blocking other foods from being digested. Again, the result is a nutritional deficiency that is anything but beneficial to your goat.
The most severe side effect of a goat consuming meat is death. Again, this is all because a goat cannot digest meat appropriately.
Can Goats Eat Fish?
Many people who do not consume meat consume fish – otherwise known as “pescatarian.” While this is a suitable option for humans, the same choice is not available to the goat.
While a goat may nibble on a piece of fish if left in its presence, goats should not consume fish. This can be referred to as a “meat product” that should not be a part of your goat’s diet. Fish consumption can lead to any of the adverse side effects mentioned above.
Can Goats Eat Chicken?
Chicken is another no-no for a goat’s diet. Their stomach is not equipped with the proper microbes and bacteria to break down the chicken meat, which can lead to problems big and small.
Can Goats Eat Chicken Feed?
While on the topic of whether or not goats can eat chicken, it’s crucial to mention chicken feed. Why? Because goats are very fond of chicken feed. And since goats and chickens are sometimes housed together (or nearby), goats have plenty of opportunities to get their hands on this “treat.”
Goats should not eat chicken feed, though. Chickens and goats are two entirely different animals with distinctive digestive systems and nutritional needs. While the chicken is an omnivore that can eat just about anything, the goat is strictly an herbivore.
That said, chicken feed is designed to cater to the chicken’s stomach and nutritional needs. The protein content is typically relatively high, and there are a slew of ingredients that the goat simply can’t handle.
If your goat ends up consuming chicken feed – especially in large quantities – it can lead to stomach upset, digestive issues, and potentially death.
What Will Goats Not Eat?
There isn’t much that a goat will outright refuse to eat, so it’s essential to pay attention to what you’re feeding your goat and what food items come within reach of your goat. Aside from meat, a few other things your goat should not consume are: garlic, onion, chocolate, caffeine, and citrus.
Meat Should Not Be a Part of Your Goat’s Diet
Goats might be tempted to nibble on meat (or chicken or fish) if it’s in front of them, but it should not be a part of their diet. The goat’s stomach is not equipped to break down any meat or meat product.
Consumption can lead to many adverse side effects, from uncomfortable and excessive bloating to kidney failure and death. It’s best to keep meat away from your goat at all times.