Whether you’re raising goats for milk, wool, or pets, proper nutrition is vital to the health of your animals. Many of the same foods that are toxic to your dog or cat have similar effects on goats. However, it’s not necessarily a done deal to say that something that is okay for your pup will be suitable for your livestock. When it comes to pumpkin, you’re in luck.
This squash cultivar of the winter variety Cucurbita pepo is safe for your goats to eat with a few common-sense caveats. Our guide will give you the rundown on what pumpkins have to offer your goats and how you should give it to them to minimize any concerns.
Pumpkin has a lot going for it from a nutritional perspective. It’s low in calories and fat so it won’t contribute much toward obesity. It’s high in vitamins A and C, along with riboflavin. This fruit is also a rich source of potassium and phosphorus. All of these make pumpkin an excellent supplement to the vitamins and minerals that the forage you give your goats supplies.
The fiber content of canned pumpkin makes it beneficial for animals that experience GI distress. Pumpkin is mainly water. That’s a good thing for these animals. While they are efficient at balancing their body stores, they can become dangerously dehydrated if they lose just 10%. That’s why you should always have plenty of fresh water available for your goats at all times.
Pumpkin Safety Concerns for Goats
Some foods vary in how safe they are for animals in general. That’s not the case with pumpkins. They are well tolerated by a wide range of species. Unlike produce like rhubarb, there aren’t any toxic parts to the plants that would raise a red flag. The only things that warrant further discussion are the types of pumpkins and the seeds.
Seeds and Cucurbitacins
Halloween or pie pumpkins are safe for goats and other animals to eat. The concern rests with the so-called bitter varieties that we know as gourds. Giving them this moniker is appropriate, given their foul smell and taste. While people use them for decorative purposes, humans and wildlife usually don’t eat the fruits. The reason is the Cucurbitacin content.
Cucurbitacins are the proverbial double-edged sword. These organic compounds are the source of the bitterness of gourds. Some research has revealed possible medicinal value, too. However, the poison is in the dose, they say. That is equally true of Cucurbitacins. Livestock have died from eating these fruits because of the toxicity of these chemicals.
Pumpkin seeds of the Halloween and pie cultivars contain a minuscule amount of Cucurbitacins. However, it’s not enough to cause your goats any harm. Anecdotal accounts suggest the seeds are an effective dewormer. However, no scientific evidence exists to substantiate these claims. You’re better off sticking to your veterinarian’s advice on this score.
Tips for Feeding Your Goats Pumpkin
If you grow pumpkins, you can let your goats into the patch after you’re done harvesting. They’ll gladly eat up the leftovers to save you the trouble. The one caveat is moldy or rotten fruit. It can harbor bacteria or other pathogens that your livestock shouldn’t eat. If you have chickens or sheep, they can enjoy this healthy snack, too.
We recommend cutting the pumpkin into smaller pieces, especially if you have smaller goats, such as Pygmies. You can discard the woody stem, which doesn’t have much nutritional value. You can also give them canned pumpkin if it doesn’t have any added sugars. However, you shouldn’t offer your livestock pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with ingredients that they don’t need.
As any goat owner will tell you, these animals won’t necessarily eat everything you offer them. Goats are notoriously picky eaters, even though they don’t always have a problem with your ornamental shrubs or other landscaping plants. As with most foods outside of their forage, you should only give pumpkins to your goats as an occasional treat.
More people have realized what delightful pets goats are as long as you have the space and time to care of them. You’ll find that they are affectionate animals and will welcome your attention. Pumpkins are a safe and nutritious treat that you can offer your goats. They’ll benefit from the vitamins and minerals it contains along with the added fiber. As with all treats, moderation is the best approach.
- Related read: Can Goats Eat Asparagus? What You Need to Know
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