Goats like to walk around and explore for their food, making them different from grazing animals. Goats are browsers: They sample new things and eat leaves and shrubs that are higher off the ground than grass. Goats have complex digestive systems, and if you own these animals, it’s important to know which foods they can safely eat.
It’s easy to assume that fruits and vegetables are safe for any animal to eat because they are nutritious and healthy for humans to consume. This isn’t always the case with every animal, though. When it comes to goats, care should be taken to not disrupt their digestive systems.
The good news is that goats can eat broccoli. This vegetable is safe for them to consume and makes a highly nutritious snack. Let’s find out how much of this green treat goats can eat and how to give it to them.
The Digestive System of Goats
Goats are ruminant animals, meaning they have a stomach with four compartments: the reticulum, rumen, omasum, and abomasum (or true stomach).
Monogastric animals, or those with single stomachs (like humans and dogs), start to break down food in the stomach and then finish with enzymatic digestion in the small intestine. In goats, the food that they eat undergoes microbial digestion first in the reticulum and rumen. Acidic digestion and enzymatic digestion then take place in the abomasum and small intestine. This enables the goats to absorb nutrients from grass and hay.
The bacteria in the reticulum and rumen break down and ferment the fibrous material that goats eat, including wood and tree bark. While these materials can’t be digested as effectively by monogastric animals, they can be sources of a goat’s energy supply.
Is Broccoli Always Safe for Goats?
Goats can typically eat hay, cornmeal, soybean meal, and cut-up fruits and vegetables. While broccoli is safe for goats to eat sometimes, this vegetable should not make up the majority of a goat’s diet.
While broccoli is nutritious, it also contains potential issues for goats. Broccoli is part of the brassica plant family, and these vegetables can be difficult for goats to digest. Broccoli also contains sulfur and glucosinolates. These things are necessary for a goat’s diet to some extent, but too much sulfur can cause health problems. Excess sulfur that can’t be digested by the rumen then gets released into the bloodstream as sulfides. These are toxic to goats. It can result in a reduced appetite, stunted growth, and brain tissue death. An abundance of glucosinolates can lead to goiters and thyroid issues in goats.
Nutritional Benefits of Broccoli for Goats
Goats are herbivores, meaning they should only eat vegetation. They get all their nutrition this way. When goats eat broccoli, it provides them with nutrients that their bodies can absorb and use in beneficial ways. While it’s important to limit this vegetable for goats to avoid health problems, they can safely enjoy broccoli in small amounts and receive all the nutritional benefits that it has to offer.
Broccoli contains protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and selenium. Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K are also present, making this vegetable a healthy option for many animals, including humans.
Iron transports oxygen around the body through the bloodstream. An iron deficiency can result in anemia in goats. Selenium and vitamin E are important to help ward off white muscle disease in goats. They also lower the goat’s susceptibility to worms. Fiber works to keep the digestive system healthy. Calcium aids in blood clotting, nerve function, and heart function. It’s also necessary for lactating goats to help them produce healthy milk.
Daily Diet of a Goat
The main part of a goat’s diet is roughage. This includes grass or hay that is high in fiber. Alfalfa hay is best because it provides protein. Goats eat and digest large amounts of roughage and can eat 2–4 pounds of it per day. Grain and pelleted mixes can add protein, vitamins, and minerals to their diet but should be fed in moderation. One cup per day in addition to hay is sufficient for adult goats. Treats for goats are in the form of fruits and vegetables.
Goats shouldn’t eat too many of these, but they can keep them happy and ward off boredom with their diet. Broccoli is an excellent treat for goats.
Can Goats Eat Raw Broccoli?
Goats can eat raw broccoli and enjoy it. Broccoli will provide more nutrients to your goat while it’s raw, but goats will also eat this vegetable cooked. Lightly boiling broccoli will soften it and give your goat a different texture to enjoy if they don’t tend to like raw broccoli.
Can Goats Eat Broccoli Stems and Leaves?
Every part of the broccoli plant is edible for your goat. They can safely eat the stems and leaves. That said, it’s important to make sure the stem is cut into small enough pieces for your goat to eat to avoid choking.
What Should a Goat Never Eat?
The list of things that a goat should never eat is extensive. When in doubt, always research a plant or food to make sure it’s safe for goats or ask your vet.
Goats can safely eat cooked or raw broccoli and all parts of the broccoli plant. Since goats have such a complex digestive system, they can eat things that other animals may not be able to, like wood. Always check with your vet before feeding your goat anything new to make sure it’s safe for them, though. By sticking to their recommended daily diet and offering them fruits and vegetables as treats, you will have a happy and healthy goat for many years.
- Related read: Can Goats Eat Tomatoes? What You Need to Know!
Featured Image Credit: Auntmasako, Pixabay