What Goats Can’t Eat Around Your Homestead, Including Table Scraps!

Posted by Mandi Chamberlain, Wed, Jul 17, 2019

Waste not, want not. Right? 

If only that were true of our caprine counterparts! Goats are browsing animals, and while they won’t eat anything (contrary to popular belief), they will eat a lot of things if placed in front of them—certainly a nibble or two! If you had to identify plants on your farm or homestead that were potentially harmful to your hooved friends, could you? Don’t be alarmed—I couldn’t all the time either! Good thing there are resources for that at our fingertips. I want to cover a few things you might have growing in your pasture which you might think are okay to have them try, and then wrap up with some good ol’ table scraps that might be detrimental to goats if ingested.

Everyone enjoys a well-manicured and landscaped front lawn, especially if you have goats because they ruin everything else! I’ll be the first to tell you that I have three commonly used plants on my farm that are toxic to goats: boxwood, larkspur and lupines. I mention these because of their commonality at nurseries. When ingested in a decent amount, they can do some harm to goats, or at least cause some gastrointestinal upset. Another common thing I see a lot (okay, almost everywhere) is oak trees. The green leaves found on yellow, black, and red oak trees are very high in tannins, which can cause kidney and liver issues if ingested in large amounts. Be careful about oak trees dropping their leaves into water sources, too; tannins can be leached from the leaves via that route as well. Now, remember, these are green leaves we’re talking about. I have tons of oak trees on my property—hence my farm name, Wild Oak Farms. Azaleas are another one to potentially plant away from goat bellies, as they can cause an irregular heartbeat. These are just a few of the common things found at local garden stores that we seek out to plant! They are okay to have on the property, but let’s keep the pet goats clear of them.

In addition to things we can choose to plant, you may have some weeds just naturally growing that, at the very least, you will want to identify, such as common poppy, wild parsnip and horse nettle. If you have any land, especially unkempt, I can promise you will find one of the above (depending on geographic location, of course). Don’t believe the old wives’ tale that goats know the difference between bad and good plants; however, if your goats are receiving adequate nutrition, specifically forage and hay, you should be just fine.

Onto the good old pantry raid! Just as with our companion animals (i.e., dogs and cats), goats shouldn’t consume many human foods either. Sure, blueberries, carrots and some good ol’ homegrown cabbage is fine; my dog even eats all of those things! But, just like other animals, goats shouldn’t consume things like garlic, onion, chocolate or any source of caffeine, to name a few. Although most goats wouldn’t eat leftover meat scraps, they shouldn’t be offered them either. Citrus fruits should also be avoided, as they can really upset the rumen. Banana and apple are great fruit options that most goats love, and they provide a good way of administering medication as well!

As a good rule of thumb, a good pasture or hay source and potentially a nice ration of pellets or grain mixed specifically for goats is something you can stick with, and your goats will still be just as happy and healthy! 

Mandi Chamberlain

Hi everyone! My name is Mandi. I am a registered veterinary nurse, who fell in love with the art of living slow so I moved to the country. Most who know me would say I do anything but live slow these days though! I live on just over 4 acres in the Midwest. I raise a herd of registered Nubian dairy goats, a tribe of chickens, and a large garden. I have a huge passion for learning, and then teaching others what I have learned. I find country life to be rewarding and challenging every single day, but I wouldn't trade a thing. Thanks for joining me! I am here to help with anything!


Janet Sollidi 09/22/2020, 9:11:46 PM

I have 2 wethers that I don't give grain to. How do I give them their MannaPro minerals?

Lin 10/10/2020, 2:35:39 PM

Hi mandi since your vet what are the foods will harm goats can you list them please I find many answers I don’t know whom to trust

Shelia 10/26/2020, 11:30:51 AM

Hello all, I am a new goat momma, an might I say , I have never been so I love before as I am with my little I Evelyn.
I am concerned though. When I brought her home I was going to keep her in the house until my pig, Groot, potbelly pig, got use to her. Well, he hates her an it’s automatic defense mode as soon as she gets in his backyard. I dont know what to do about that. He has tried to hurt her several times. Now, y’all may think I’m nuts but Evelyn is doing amazing in the house. She only has like, 1 accident a day an when I take her outside she goes both. She will not nibble on the grass. Is it very important that she eats grass?
Thank you an God bless

In reply to by Shelia

Mike Lester 05/20/2021, 8:00:58 PM

I have a Nigerian dwarf and he also is good indoors , but didn't get along with my rottweiler . I put them in cages side by side and after about a week they seemed to be fine together . I still separate them when leaving them alone but they are together most of their day .

In reply to by Mike Lester

Melanie 08/05/2021, 4:56:36 PM

So u keep your goat loose in the house? Mine love to come in but I only let them for a few mins because I dont want them going to the bathroom in the house.

In reply to by Mike Lester

Heidi South 12/22/2021, 1:10:31 PM

My mom has a nigerian dwarf goat that lives in the house. For the most part, he pretty good for being a goat in the house. He was raised with two old lady doggos, so he's pretty sure he's a dog with horns! He's a big fan of all paper and plastic products, so it's a constant struggle to pick things up, or wrestle them from his clutches (lil frigger runs when he get ahold of something!)

Donna 11/09/2020, 7:14:54 AM

We recently purchased a Doberman puppy whose parents were raised on a farm. Our puppy, Cleo, has been struggling with intestinal disorders from the getgo. She was allergic to her mother’s milk so she was hand fed goats milk. After many many vet appts with no resolve, I was wondering if goat mana would work. Please advise.. thank you.

Abdur razaq 11/14/2020, 9:34:03 AM

I am from India
I started small sheep farm
Per day 6 hours grasping
Night 8 o'clock only one time
vegetables giving
Cauliflower leaves and stem
Snake guard. Can I give all those veg
Regularly please advise.
Green sheep farm
India pondicherry

In reply to by Abdur razaq

Mike Lester 05/20/2021, 8:04:17 PM

I wouldn't go overboard on cucumber but yes they can have them regularly. I've noticed that cucumber can give them diarrhea .

Anonymous 11/23/2020, 9:58:57 AM

Goats are so cute they make me feel alive not in my dreams but in real life

Peter Jaskaran 11/27/2020, 1:11:19 PM

Hi good day...i would like to know if sorghum - sudan grass is ok for goats???...because i read that it has prussic acid in it...just wanted to hear your thoughts and opinion on this..
Thank you much.

Shahzad wazier 12/02/2020, 8:42:36 AM

Dear sir we are interested in your product please send me rate
Shahzad wazier

Anderson 12/08/2020, 7:32:36 PM

How much oats per pound of goat. Mine are pets, get grassy alfalfa plus 2 acres to graze.

In reply to by Anderson

Mike Lester 05/20/2021, 8:05:43 PM

Goats are voracious eaters. They will eat as much as you give them. As long as they are getting a lot of exercise you have no worries of overfeeding so you can just give them as much as they want.

Jida 02/26/2021, 12:35:38 PM

Good day, please can you help help I just want to start a goat farming and I need to know the best tablet and food I can get them I have 6 month old and I want them to grow big .hope to hear from you thanks

In reply to by Jida

Mike Lester 05/20/2021, 8:07:29 PM

I would suggest a molasses coated green mixed with alfalfa pellets and cracked corn. This is what I feed my ghost along with letting them graze and they are very happy and big. Although I do not raise them for me they are pets so I do spend quite a bit on their food.

In reply to by Jida

D Baugh 11/02/2021, 10:39:10 AM

Your goats need mineral as well. Loose mineral available 24/7.
Very important you have cobalt in your mineral. Without it, your goats cannot produce their own B vitamins. I had sick goats for 6 months until I realized my land provides no cobalt. Get a soil test to know for sure.

Manda Turner 05/05/2021, 8:53:12 PM

My husband and I are proud new owners of a withered billy goat that we have named John Boy. But in all honesty we have no idea what we are doing?😔 For the past 6 years till current we are BIG dog owners, we have 6 big doggies.🧐🤔 If there is anyone who could give us some advice we would greatly appreciate it!!♥️GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERYONE OF Y'ALL.

In reply to by Manda Turner

Carol 05/21/2022, 12:36:56 PM

All goats need a companion. Never get one goat. You need at least two. They are terribly unhappy by themselves.

Sondra 05/08/2021, 3:58:27 PM

Can goats eat cilantro

Rebecca 05/12/2021, 11:39:55 AM

We live in Bermuda and I almost bought a pair of goats this week but my realist husband said we werent ready. we dont have any set space fenced off yet or a shed for them so hes not wrong.
but part of me just wants to go for it. just wondered if you had any advice.

In reply to by Rebecca

Mike Lester 05/20/2021, 8:09:18 PM

I would suggest getting a large dog house or a 10-ft by 10 ft dog kennel . You can find them used for around $100 and new for around $250. Other than that you don't really need to fence them up you can leash them just like dogs and just move the leash around every few days so they have new spots to graze.

In reply to by Mike Lester

Angie 06/20/2021, 10:51:33 AM

thank you for posting i was wondering about getting a 10 by 10 dog kennel where can I buy one

Bobbie J. Ames 06/23/2021, 5:00:06 AM

My goat looks at me like she loves me. Is this possible? Her name is Baby and I've had her three months.

Katrina Gillin 06/26/2021, 10:21:45 AM

I have 2 Nigerian dwarfs, twins now 6 weeks. I have moss growing near their pen. Is this harmful or safe for them to graze? Thanks!

Andrea 07/03/2021, 5:10:21 PM

Hi! I am interested in getting a couple of Nigerian dwarf goats. If I give them plenty of feed & forage, will they still destroy the plants in my yard? I have a lot of ivy growing and don’t mind if they trim it, but don’t want it completely gone. Thanks!

DIANE BODMER 07/16/2021, 2:27:52 PM

Question on why you say no garlic for goats -- when it can be used as a natural dewormer for goats. Some mix it with peanut butter and give them.

In reply to by DIANE BODMER

Anonymous 04/25/2022, 5:34:29 PM

Goats love pumpkins and the pumpkin seeds are said to be a good wormer. We fed our goats pumpkins with the seeds. They ate the whole pumpkin.

Elizabeth Pears 07/24/2021, 6:03:45 PM

Vet told me absolutely no corn for goats.

sssifuentes 07/29/2021, 8:24:09 AM

yes they will still destroy the decorative plants in the yard because even if they've eaten well they love variety. You have to love them more tben your plants if you're going to have them. They almost always find a way out.

Deana 09/22/2021, 10:52:36 PM

Thanks for the advice you are offering to goat lovers/breeders. The questions and answers have been interesting to read. I am not a fan of raising goats but have learned alot by reading the posts.😊

Carol Jean Roberts 10/06/2021, 1:10:44 PM

We are proud owners of a Japanese potbelly pig and now a Nigerian dwarf goat that is pregnant. Oh and we have 5 dogs , all the animals get along. MannaPro has been a stable for us. Thank you for all the info you have provided

Freeman 11/30/2021, 4:46:26 AM

I love rearing animals especially goats. I have five female goats and each of them delivered but the kids died after three months. Subsequently, two of them delivered premature.
Please, what could be responsible for these occurrences.
I need your advice. Thanks.

Bill C 11/30/2021, 10:13:36 PM

Our goats eat all the onion grass in the pastures. They also love garlic. While we don't let them have much garlic, they will gobble it up instantly if offered. Our vet says there is nothing wrong with allowing them to eat it. We don't offer them onions but the onion grass in the one pasture is the first thing they go after when turned loose there. Again, it has never bothered any of our goats.

Jeff 01/31/2022, 8:23:38 AM

We were just given another horse... along with the horse was his best friend... "Steve"... the biggest goat I've ever seen. Steve sticks to his buddy like glue, the two are inseparable!
I had goats as a kid (lol) back in the 60s and somehow forgot what characters they were. Steve cracks me up!
Our other horses haven't quite welcomed the new guy with open hooves yet so we let him roam the property surrounding the house. When we don't know exactly where he is we just call for Steve & they both come running.
Steve will do ANYTHING for "Mrs. Pasture's Horse Cookies! He even says "Thank You!"
While brushing the horse, Steve seemed overly interested... so being the sucker that I am, I made the mistake of letting Steve experience being brushed. Colossal mistake! Now if he sees a horse brush, he won't shut-up until he gets his turn! With 5 horses now I can see how much of my day will be spent.

Maddie 02/07/2022, 6:02:01 PM

Hello! I am going to get goats in a month, fainting goats, and I don’t know much about them because all that pops up is funny fainting goats on YouTube and it would be great if you could tell me what they can and cannot eat. Thank you!

Billy 02/16/2022, 10:32:28 AM

requesting goat dental advice please.i have a 9 year old boar doe and her front teeth are even with her gum line.i asked my vet if she is in pain and he said that he didn't think so.I feed her alone in my back yard so that she dosent compete for her food.I tried to find diagrams of goats teeth so that I could tell how far the nerves run in their teeth but the diagrams that I found only showed the teeth.
do you think she is in pain? do you have any diagrams that show the nerves location in the teeth?

Jim 03/19/2022, 2:47:24 PM

My 4 month old goats eat a lot of fresh green pastures of different greens and about 200 gr of formulated kid grains
First is it okay that they eat all they can eat green pasture?
Second is there anything I can add or change?

Anita Macauley 03/22/2022, 4:24:07 AM

I noticed most of these comments are unanswered. Is this blog monitored?

Babedoll 04/25/2022, 11:21:01 PM

I was wondering if goats can have chickpeas

Ruth 05/04/2022, 11:27:56 AM

I read the pyracantha brush can be fed to goats but also what about Cyprus evergreen hedges .

Shirley 05/16/2022, 3:27:12 PM

Will orange poppy flowers harm goats? I have young Pygmy goat.

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