We know how much goats like to nibble on almost anything and everything. But when figuring out a healthy diet for a goat, it’s a good idea to check to see what is good and what is not so good for them.
Are carrots okay for goats to eat? Absolutely!
Carrots are great treats for goats, but while every part of the carrot is safe for goats to eat, it should only be in moderation.
We look at the good and the bad of carrots, the best way to prepare them, and how many is okay to give your goat.
A Goat’s Diet
First, let’s look at the domesticated goat’s diet.
Goats are known to be browsing animals, which is different from grazing. They prefer to eat vegetation that is higher up, such as taller grasses, shrubs, and leaves.
The main staple of a domestic goat’s diet is high-quality hay. One goat will typically eat 2 to 4 pounds of hay every day, beyond what they might eat while browsing.
Goats are ruminants, which means the food that they eat ferments in a special section of their stomachs, which helps them absorb nutrients. This also means they spend time chewing their cuds, like cows!
But due to this fermentation process, they have sensitive digestive needs, and changing things up or giving them the wrong food can have a serious impact on their health. This is why adding anything new should be researched and given to the goat gradually.
All About the Carrot
Carrots have been cultivated since at least 3,000 B.C. in Central Asia, but the orange carrot as we know it today originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century. They are famous for their bright orange color but also come in purple, white, yellow, and red.
Carrots are used in everything from stews and soups to salads, entrees, and desserts (carrot cake!). They are full of antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins K, A, and B, fiber, and potassium, and they have loads of health benefits for goats:
However, there is a downside to giving carrots to your goats.
The Downside of Carrots for Goats
There aren’t many disadvantages for goats eating carrots, but if they are given carrots as a regular part of their diet rather than as a treat, you might start to see a few problems.
Can baby goats be fed carrots? Nope. They have sensitive digestive systems and are only able to digest their mother’s milk until they are weaned.
They start to wean from their mother at about 2 weeks to 1 month old, and until they are fully weaned, they only require their mother’s milk. It would be safe to give a kid a few carrots when they are about 2 months old.
Just like adult goats, any new food introduced to the kids should be done slowly and in small amounts. Too many carrots can cause digestive upset and might become a choking hazard.
How to Feed Goats Carrots
There isn’t a specific number of carrots that is safe for your goat, but a general rule of thumb should be to only feed your goat about two to three carrots a week. This could be construed as a healthy treat.
The best way to prepare carrots for your goat is to chop them up into pieces. Goats do not have front teeth, but rather strong molars for grinding, so it’s easier for them to chew up small pieces. It also reduces the risk of choking. Cutting the carrots vertically will further reduce the choking risk.
It isn’t necessary to peel the carrots, but be sure to wash them to get rid of dirt or any possible pesticides.
You can also give your goat the carrot tops, but not all goats will eat them. Just be sure they are fresh and only given in moderation. They are high in glucosinolates, which aren’t good for goats in large amounts.
You can mix cut-up carrots and carrot tops with the goat’s regular hay as one method for feeding these to them.
Other Safe Vegetables and Fruit for Goats
Safe and healthy vegetables that you can feed your goat include:
Safe and healthy fruit include:
Just like with carrots, most of these fruits and veggies have many health benefits for goats but should only be given as occasional treats. Hay should always be the main part of a goat’s diet.
So, carrots are great for goats, as long as you cut them up properly. They should be given as treats, not meals. When you give your goat a carrot for the first time, remember to only provide a small amount and keep an eye on them. If you notice any adverse reactions within a few hours after giving your goat something new, you should avoid it in the future.
Speak to your vet before you actually give your goat anything new or if you have any concerns about your goat’s health. Carrots provide many health benefits, and your goat will more than likely enjoy this sweet and crunchy treat.
Featured Image Credit: santod32, Shutterstock