For centuries, goats have been one of the most popular types of livestock on the planet. Raised for purposes including dairy, meat, and fiber, goats are considered easy to care for. These ruminants have a reputation for eating anything in sight but in reality, they are thoughtful eaters. This makes them an even more attractive farm animal because their diet includes one of the most sustainable plants around.
Goats will not only eat bamboo but they will absolutely devour the green leafy stalks which are delicious and nutritious. As a perennial evergreen member of the grass family, bamboo can thrive just about anywhere once it has been established and is a highly sustainable source of fodder.
Providing livestock with feed that is healthy and cost-effective is an important aspect of their care. As far as raising goats is concerned, bamboo is a viable option not only as fodder but also as a forage-able food source once it has been properly established on a farm.
There is one very important caveat regarding bamboo as goat feed so keep reading to learn what this is and how it can affect goats’ health.
Will Goats Eat Bamboo? Is It Poisonous or Safe for Goats
Although they have been domesticated and raised as livestock for thousands of years, goats are often misunderstood.
They have a reputation for being stubborn and untamable, but they are inherently curious and roam about their environment testing their natural athleticism (some breeds can reportedly climb trees).
Another way that goats have been defamed relates to their eating habits.
Here’s video proof goats will eat Bamboo:
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.
Goats Are Browsers
Many tall tales about goats relate to their eating habits and a recurring theme is their willingness to eat everything in sight including tin cans and cardboard boxes. But in actuality, goats are thoughtful eaters in the sense that will try nibbling on anything that they perceive to be a potential food source.
Goats are also what is known in the animal world as browsers, meaning that they prefer to eat with their heads up and eyes forward (as opposed to grazers, which eat with their heads down toward the ground).
Because of this unique characteristic, the diet of goats (source) is much more diverse and includes:
- Plant tops
- Seed heads
Another favorite of goats is woody plants and this is where bamboo comes in to create a win-win situation for these animals and the livestock farmers who raise them.
Is Bamboo Good Fodder for Goats?
In addition to being natural browsers, goats are also top-down eaters. Their preference is starting at eye level and working their way down but stopping short of grazing on the ground.
So well-known are goats for this eating habit that herds of them have been used to clear entire hillsides (source) of tall, dry brush as part of local wildfire prevention measures in many high-risk communities.
It is the way that goats prefer to eat and forage that makes bamboo a good food resource. Bamboo is a woody, perennial evergreen plant that is a member of the grass family. Bamboo has unique attributes that make it an ideal food source for goats (and other livestock, including cows and sheep).
Bamboo offers many benefits to both goat and farmer, including:
- Bamboo is drought-resistant and can thrive in dry, arid climates
- The hardy nature of bamboo also allows it to grow in a broad range of conditions, including mountainous terrain
- Bamboo can even be established in areas with cold, harsh winters
- As a perennial evergreen plant, bamboo will maintain leafy sprouts throughout the year, providing goats with green vegetation year-round
- Because bamboo is a grass, even after it has been foraged or grazed, it will continue to grow
- It can be established within a period of 3-5 years
- Aside from fodder, bamboo is a sustainable resource in other ways, such as being a good wood substitute for construction and repair projects, or even as charcoal for heating applications
Contrary to popular belief, goats do not eat everything in sight and will not consider munching on anything that does not resemble food.
In fact, goats are famously quirky about their food choices, choosing to ignore a lush field of grass in favor of a thick, overgrown shrub. But not only is bamboo something that goats will eat but it is a plant that they will gravitate toward as a favored menu item.
Bamboo Is Good for Goats
The most important aspect of fodder and forage for animals is its nutritional value and this is another area where bamboo excels as a food resource for goats.
Here is a sampling of the dietary benefits of bamboo:
- Chlorophyll in the leaves helps promote strong immune responses to illness
- Lactone is considered to be good for cardiovascular health
- Bamboo is high in crude protein
- This plant is also rich in nutrients like zinc, calcium, magnesium, copper, and manganese
- Bamboo is also high in fiber
Further enhancing the nutritional impact of bamboo is the fact that these nutrients are readily available year-round because bamboo is an evergreen plant that continues to grow through all four seasons.
Is Heavenly Bamboo Poisonous to Goats?
While bamboo is a favorite food among goats and a viable fodder resource for farmers, there is one type of bamboo-like plant that needs to be avoided at all costs. Heavenly bamboo features vertical stalks and leafy sprouts much like bamboo, but it is not a grass and belongs to the Berberidaceae family.
More importantly, heavenly bamboo is toxic to foraging and grazing animals and goats are particularly susceptible (source) to its harmful effects because of their unique digestive system. The cyanide that is present in heavenly bamboo can cause seizures, convulsions, and even death if this plant is consumed in high quantities.
Aside from the danger it poses to goats, heavenly bamboo may also be a plant to avoid because of the threat it poses to local habitats. In certain areas, this plant aggressively displaces native growth and is considered an invasive species.
Goats are the reputed four-legged landscaping machines of the animal world. While they are known for having voracious appetites, they are also thoughtful eaters who know what they want and are headstrong enough to more often than not get their way.
For savvy livestock farmers looking for an economical way to keep their herd healthy and happy, bamboo is an all-around resource strongly worth considering.