Goats are browsers, and that means they eat many different kinds of plant matter besides grass and hay. Goats eat all kinds of leaves, twigs, berries, shoots, buds, and more.
Most kinds of plants are actually on the menu for goats, but not quite all. What about something like ivy? Can goats eat ivy and is it safe for them?
Yes, goats can eat most kinds of ivy safely, including poison ivy. Goats will typically eat the leaves and berries from ivy plants, but will occasionally eat the vines as well. Ivy is generally nutritious for goats, but it should not be the primary part of their diet.
I know it’s hard to believe, especially when you consider that poison ivy is such a horrible nuisance for people, but goats are not the least bit affected by it.
They eat many other kinds of ivy also, and if your goats are interested in it you generally can it let them snack on it.
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about feeding ivy to your goats.
What Benefits Does Ivy Have for Goats?
Ivy, like most plants, can help fulfill a goat’s calorie needs and also provide them with vitamins and minerals that will help them thrive.
Most ivy plans will typically contain a modest combination of vitamin A, various B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals like calcium, phosphorus and more. All good stuff, and all things that goats need.
Together, the nutrients present in ivy can help improve a goat’s skin and fur, metabolism, various cellular functions, circulatory health and even tissue and bone repair.
Not a bad batch of benefits from a plant that most people consider an outright nuisance, no matter what kind it is!
But ivy, despite how nutritious and natural it is in a goat’s diet, it isn’t something that your goats should be eating all the time.
It’s a supplemental or incidental food, one that they should have very little of compared to their usual diet of hay, grass or pellets.
As long as you do that, there’s nothing wrong with letting your goats eat a little bit of ivy…
Can Goats Eat English Ivy?
Yes, surprisingly enough, they can.
Although it is common to see English ivy appear on lists of plants that are toxic for goats and other animals, there’s a massive inconsistency with the warning and with the amount of owners that report their goats chowing down on English ivy at regular intervals.
Goats seem to enjoy eating English ivy, and they can eat a lot of it, to the point that some states are utilizing goats to control this invasive plant.
Can Goats Eat Common Ivy?
Yes, they sure can. Common ivy, one of the prettiest flowering varieties of ivy, is completely safe for goats to eat.
Can Goats Eat Boston Ivy?
Yes. Boston ivy is a safe variety for goats.
Can Goats Eat Poison Ivy?
Unbelievably, yes they can! And it won’t hurt goats in the slightest.
That horrible substance produced by poison ivy, urushiol, the one that causes that terrible blistering and rash, does not affect goats at all.
It won’t affect their skin, it won’t affect their tongue or mouth, and it won’t affect their digestive tract.
Goats are truly immune to it! If you have a known patch of poison ivy on your property, you don’t have to worry about your goats if they start nibbling on it. But…
Poison Ivy Won’t Hurt Goats, but they Can Spread the Sap!
I must point out before we go any further but just because your goats can safely eat poison ivy without worrying about any ill effects, that doesn’t mean the poison ivy won’t affect you later!
That’s because that oily sap that the plant secretes will get all over your goats as they eat on it or if they blunder into a patch of it.
That oil will coat and stick to their fur, and then it’ll get on you, your clothing, and your tools after you make contact with your goats.
Goats will also rub it all over anything that they touch, and the stuff is persistent, meaning it can be a secondary or even tertiary contaminant!
For this reason, I strongly recommend you keep your goats from eating poison ivy so you don’t have to worry about this terrible eventuality.
You don’t have to worry about your goats’ health if they eat it, but you’ll probably come down with a bad case of the stuff if they do.
Are Ivy Leaves Safe for Goats?
Yes, ivy leaves are safe for goats. In fact, most goats seem to prefer the ivy leaves above any other part of the plant.
The leaves also have many of the nutrients present.
Are Ivy Vines Safe for Goats?
Yes, assuming your goats are eating a safe variety of ivy the vines themselves are safe.
However, some goats seem to show an individual preference toward avoiding the vines.
Maybe it’s because they are a little bit too chewy, or maybe it’s because they’re tough to tear away from what they are growing on.
Are Ivy Berries Safe for Goats?
Yes. Ivy berries are safe and nutritious for goats, and they will be eager to pick them off whenever they find them.
Can You Cook Ivy to Give it to Goats?
Yes, cooked ivy is safe for your goats. However, you absolutely don’t need to go to the trouble of cooking ivy for them.
All it’s going to do is reduce the nutritional content of the ivy, and not make it any more edible or, usually, any more palatable to them.
Stick with raw, natural ivy, whatever kind it is, and your goats will love it just fine.
How Frequently Can Goats Have Ivy?
Ivy, as I mentioned above, is a supplemental or incidental part of a goat’s diet.
It is natural, and wholesome, and definitely something that goats would eat in the wild but it’s not something they should eat all the time.
If you’re harvesting ivy to give your goats, I would give them a smallish quantity a few times a week, maybe three at the most.
I wouldn’t even let them make a very large meal out of it so they don’t miss out on other more nutritious foods they do need.
If you allow your goats to free range or let them out to browse periodically, you can let them snack on ivy wherever they find it so long as they don’t sit there and fill up on it.
Can Ivy Cause Problems for Goats?
Potentially. The erstwhile toxins that various kinds of ivy contain, saponins, can potentially cause digestive in other health problems in goats if they eat extreme amounts of it.
Generally, though, the hazards of saponins found in ivy varieties are overblown as evidenced by the fact that goats readily eat them and suffer no ill effects whatsoever.
Letting your goats eat too much ivy, or eat it too often, could start to cause health issues.
Also, it is highly recommended that you keep pregnant does from eating ivy at all, as even relatively low concentrations of saponins can cause birth defects and miscarriages, so you definitely don’t want that to happen!
Be Cautious of Letting Your Goats Eat Unknown Ivy
Another nonspecific-but-likely hazard with ivy generally is treatment with herbicides or pesticides.
Both of these chemicals can cause serious health issues for your goats…
Consider that people who are growing ornamental ivy want to keep it safe from insects, and the people that don’t want to poison or other ivies turning into a nuisance plant around their property will dose it with herbicides.
This is a plant, more than most other kinds, that is highly likely to be treated with chemicals! If you haven’t been in direct control of the property and plant at all times, be wary.
How Should You Serve Ivy to Your Herd?
You won’t need to do much if you want to give ivy to your goats.
You can let them nibble on it wherever it’s growing (assuming you don’t mind them blundering into potentially hazardous poison ivy) or you can harvest it and simply hand it over to them in a bundle or gathered stalks.
Your goats will be completely content to pick at the parts they want, and they will leave behind the parts they don’t.
Is Ivy Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, but cautiously. Baby goats should only ever eat ivy they have completely weaned off of milk.
Likewise, baby goats are definitely more sensitive to the saponins present in various kinds of ivy, so you might want to keep an eye on them and let them have only a very limited amount.
If you notice any signs of distress, discontinue at once.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
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