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Do Goats Eat Poison Ivy? What to Allow and Watch for

You may sometimes wonder if your goats are affected by the same things you are. When it comes to poison ivy, goats are not adversely affected.

Goats can eat poison ivy, but make sure they only consume it in moderation to be on the safe side. A goat’s stomach can handle much more than a human’s. Goats do not get rashes or side effects from poison ivy the way people do. 

After the goat eats poison ivy, the plant eventually dies. If you want to understand more about goats and poison ivy, check out this informative article.

What is Poison Ivy?

Poison ivy leaves are shiny with pointy edges. If you come in contact with any part of the poison ivy plant, your skin will become red and itchy. The oils from the plant are responsible for that rash you get when you touch it.

Poison Ivy is a widespread poisonous plant that grows in vines or low shrubs in most climates. It has three leaves, which have one leaf on each side and one in the center. After the plant flowers, it has a white berry that stays through the fall and winter and is a unique feature of the plant.

You only need to be exposed to an amount equal to a grain of salt to get a rash. A poison ivy rash typically clears up on its own within a few weeks.

You can use calamine lotion to help ease the pain. Oatmeal baths and cool compresses may also be beneficial. In serious cases, oral steroids may be prescribed to help control inflammation.

Do Goats Get Sick from Poison Ivy?

Goats do not get sick from poison ivy. Poison ivy contains a toxic substance in its sap, which is called urushiol. Urushiol is an oily mixture of compounds that contain allergenic properties. Once it has penetrated the skin, removing it with water will not work.

Damage to the skin causes:

  • Painful rashes
  • Swelling
  • Blisters 
  • Itching

Some individuals have a more intense reaction to urushiol than others. Fortunately, the poison ivy blisters liquid cannot spread the rash to other areas of the body. However, urushiol can be spread from a person’s hands to other body parts through the act of scratching or become re-exposed through clothes or outdoor equipment.

Human beings are the ones who must deal with this problem, as goats do not have to worry about this. It is not entirely known how goats can safely consume this plant, but they can.

There are specific theories that they have certain enzymes in their gut that protect their stomach from illness. Other ideas surmise that goats have the ability to not get sick because of their ancestry.

Once upon a time, goats did not have anything else to eat. Yet another theory is that the rumen in the goat’s gut bacteria breaks down the poison, which means they can digest it without any side effects.

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.

Can My Goat Give Me Poison Ivy?

If your goat was touching poison ivy plants and it got on their fur, you can get poison ivy on your skin from close contact. If your goats have just been chowing down on poison ivy, avoid the mistake of getting too close to them and getting poison ivy.

If you need to handle your goats once they have finished eating poison ivy, wear gloves and long sleeves to safeguard your skin from contact. 

Goats, Their Milk, and Poison Ivy 

Many people wonder if the poisonous compound that exists in poison ivy can be passed into the milk of the goat. According to research (source) from California, it cannot. Go ahead and drink that goat milk and eat that cheese and yogurt!

Does Poison Ivy Come Back After Goats Eat it?

Goats do not like the root of poison ivy, which means that the plant will grow back after they consume the leaves. However, the plant will die over time because, without the leaves, the plant does not have enough energy to survive.

One goat can eat several pounds of brush a day. Therefore, goats often clear poison ivy in woodlands and wetlands.

Use Safety Precautions with Your Goats

There is a very small percentage of poison ivy being dangerous to goats. However, feeding them in moderation is the best way to avoid any side effects or illness in goats.

Only allow them to eat a modest quantity at first because introducing them to something new too quickly can precipitate stomach issues in your goats. Make small changes gradually.

What Plants Are Poisonous to Goats?

Poison ivy is not harmful to goats. However, many other plants are. (source) When you are using goats to clear forests and marshes, you need to be careful, as they can be exposed to the ingestion of toxic plants.

Some of these plants include:

  • Black Cohosh- Found in the eastern United States. Herbaceous wildflowers that prefer moist or partially shaded growing areas
  • Lily of the Valley- One of the most fragrant blooming plants. The stems have little white flowers with sweet perfume.
  • Rhododendrons – Has green foliage and clusters of large flowers, which come in red, white, pink, or purple. Most come in purple.
  • Oleander – Blooms in early summer until mid-autumn— clusters of red, pink, yellow, or white blossoms. Evergreen grows quickly.
  • Wild Black Cherry – Growing black cherries have low branches which tend to sag and brush the ground. Shiny dark green leaves. Trees bear five-inch flowers in early spring.
  • Nightshade (Also known as Belladonna)- This plant is poisonous to children and pets alike. Leaves are oval-shaped with smooth edges and pointed ends. The flowers are purple and green.
  • Black Locust – Clusters of five-inch fragrant flowers bloom at the tips of new branches. Flowers attract honeybees, and nectar suitable for growing honey.
  • Poison Hemlock – Every part of this plant is poisonous. Small clusters of white flowers develop into a fruit containing several seeds—red or purplish spots along the stem.

It is essential to know that even though poison ivy is okay for goats to eat (source), the above and more plants are poisonous to them. You should guard against your goats ingesting anything toxic and remove anything harmful that may be in your garden.


Goats can safely consume poison ivy. Just make sure you supervise your goats when they are clearing woodlands and make sure they do not ingest anything toxic.

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