Goats are herbivores, but they are animals that eat all sorts of different plants. And as browsers, goats typically nibble a little bit here and there on lots of different foods if left to their own devices.
It turns out they can be surprisingly picky, even towards vegetables that you’d think they would be sure to like. How about cabbage? We’ll goats eat cabbage and is it safe?
Yes, cabbage is safe for goats to eat, but should only be fed to them as a supplement. Cabbage contains a good assortment of vitamins and minerals that can help goats thrive, but too much cabbage can cause health problems in goats.
Cabbage seems like something that goats would normally eat in abundance, but you’d be wrong. It is definitely a healthy snack or side item, if you will, for goats but not a primary part of their diet for reasons we’ll discuss.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how cabbage fits into the diet of your goats below.
What Benefits Does Cabbage Have for Goats?
Cabbage is not a staple in a goat’s diet, but it is still a veggie with many benefits for them…
The vitamins, minerals, and compounds present in cabbage can do a lot for a goat’s health, including improving blood clotting and overall circulatory health, boosting tissue repair, immune system function, metabolism, and nervous system health along with vision.
Cabbage also has noted benefits when it comes to the production of new cells, skeletal growth and healing and connective tissue health.
Cabbage also has certain special compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer benefits, which is certainly important for long-term health in goats!
Nutritional Profile of Cabbage
Cabbage is surprisingly healthy, with a great complement of vitamins and minerals. Looking at the vitamins first, we see that cabbage contains tons of vitamin C and vitamin K, along with a great amount of folate.
The other B complex vitamins are present in lesser amounts, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.
The mineral content is likewise diverse with lots of good stuff that goats need. Cabbage provides plenty of manganese, iron, and calcium along with somewhat lesser amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Cabbage also contains a little bit of sodium naturally, and is mostly water by weight which can help to keep your goats hydrated.
Is Cabbage Safe for Goats Raw?
Yes, it is. Raw cabbage is preferable for goats since it is natural and easy for them to eat.
Is Green Cabbage Okay for Goats?
Yes. Green cabbages are completely safe for goats.
Is Red Cabbage Okay for Goats?
Yes, it is. Red cabbage is as safe as any other for your goats.
Is White Cabbage Okay for Goats?
Yes, white cabbage is also safe for goats.
Is Coleslaw Safe for Goats?
Yes, assuming it is just shredded coleslaw mix with a few carrots in it. Never, ever give your goats prepared coleslaw with dressing and seasonings. See below.
Can You Cook Cabbage to Give it to Goats?
You can cook cabbage to give it to goats, but you really don’t have to. Cabbage is plenty easy for your animals to eat raw just as it is.
On the other hand, cooking cabbage can sometimes make it more appealing to picky, fussy eaters in your herd.
But on the other hand, cooking cabbage will also significantly reduce its vitamin and mineral content, meaning it isn’t as much of a healthy option for your goats.
Generally speaking, you don’t have to worry about cooking cabbage for your goats and if the only way they will eat it is cooked you should probably look for something else to serve them.
How Frequently Can Goats Have Cabbage?
Goats can have a little bit of cabbage every single day, generally no more than 1 ½ to 2 cups, or they can have a slightly larger portion once a week as part of a well-rounded diet.
Cabbage simply isn’t nutritionally complete for goats, and accordingly you don’t want them to fill up on that and miss out on other, more nutritious foods that they should be eating.
Also, cabbage is fairly high in sulfur, and excess sulfur intake can lead to some significant problems which we’ll discuss in the next section…
Can Cabbage Cause Problems for Goats?
Yes, potentially, if they get way too much of it or get cabbage in conjunction with other high-sulfur foods.
Cabbage and these other high-sulfur foods like broccoli can result in sulfur toxicity if goats get too much. Specifically, sulfur toxicity is a buildup of sulfides in the bloodstream which can have varying and increasingly dangerous effects.
It will usually start with an upset stomach, sluggishness, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. These are often mistaken for other illnesses or maladies before goat owners zero in on it being sulfur toxicity.
Bloating is also a potential problem you’ll have to watch out for…
But, in cases of acute sulfur toxicity your goats can suffer from actual organ damage, including nervous system damage. This is seriously bad news as you can imagine.
Although you’d have to feed your goats an awful lot of cabbage for this to be a genuine concern, feeding them cabbage continually or feeding them cabbage alongside other high-sulfur foods can make this outcome a very real possibility, so watch the quantity!
Never Serve Cabbage to Goats if it Has Harmful Ingredients or Chemicals
You only ever want to give cabbage to your goats plain and natural, no added ingredients. This means no giving your goats sauerkraut or coleslaw as mentioned.
All those seasonings, vinegar, dressing and all that nonsense can seriously upset the very sensitive digestive system of your goats.
As a rule of thumb, if it has lots of oil, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, butter, garlic, or anything else like that it is no good for goats and you should abstain from serving it to them.
How Should You Serve Cabbage to Your Herd?
You don’t need to do much to serve cabbage to your goats. I like to chop it up into small chunks that they can easily handle, chew and swallow.
Depending on the size and enthusiasm of your herd, they might struggle with whole heads. Also, you might consider shredding the cabbage as this can make it appealing if mixed in with other foods or just entice reluctant eaters in your herd.
Is Cabbage Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, baby goats may eat cabbage once they’re old enough to be eating solid food continuously.
However, sulfur build-up is an even bigger problem for adolescent goats compared to adults, so you want to reduce the quantity even more and be especially vigilant if you are giving them other sulfur-rich veggies also.
Clean Up Leftover Cabbage When Goats are Finished with It
Unless your goats are very fastidious or absolutely starving, chances are good there will be some leftover scraps of cabbage to clean up once they are finished with it. You’ll want to make it a point to pick those scraps up and dispose of them.
That leftover cabbage will quickly begin to rot, which will stink terribly, and if any of your goats come back around and eat it once it’s begun to mold and spoil, it can make them devastatingly sick.
You definitely don’t want that to happen, so make it a point to clean up the leftovers once your goats have had their fill.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
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