Goats eat all sorts of leafy vegetables and other plants, and that includes many of the veggies that we also eat.
Among the leafy greens, kale is thought to be one of the current kings for sheer nutrition and, accordingly, this might be something worthwhile to add to the diet of our goats. So, can goats eat kale and is it safe for them?
Yes, kale is safe and good for goats but only in small quantities and fed periodically. Kale has compounds which can result in anemia in goats if they eat too much or eat it too frequently.
Kale is one of those menu items for goats that is truly best in sharp moderation. Goats can definitely benefit from the abundant vitamins and minerals present in kale, but eating too much of it too often or alongside similar related veggies can result in potentially fatal anemia.
You don’t want that to happen, but as long as you make it a point to keep goats out of your kale or to serve it to them on a limited basis, you won’t have any problems. I’ll tell you everything you need to know below…
Kale Benefits for Goats
Kale has a reputation of being a superfood, and as much as I hate to admit it (because I can’t stand the stuff), it’s a reputation that’s deserved.
Kale can afford many nutritional benefits for goats thanks to its superb complement of vitamins and minerals.
These micronutrients can improve everything from fur and skin health to the healing and regeneration of nervous system tissues, promote good vision, and protect cells from degradation thanks to the presence of abundant antioxidants.
Kale also improves metabolism in goats, promotes good circulatory health and even helps organ function.
Lots of great benefits, and this makes kale totally worthwhile as a supplement to the usual diet of your goats, even though it is one you’ll have to include very sparingly.
Nutritional Profile of Kale
As mentioned above, kale contains a tremendous amount of vitamins and minerals, but also a surprising amount of protein and carbohydrates, making it a highly nutritious all-around option for goats.
For starters, looking at the vitamins, we see that kale contains a huge amount of vitamin C and lots of vitamin A alongside a good shot of vitamins E and K.
Kale is also quite rich in the B complex vitamins, specifically thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine.
The mineral content of kale is similarly impressive, and arguably even better than its vitamin content. It has tons of magnesium and manganese, potassium and phosphorus, iron, calcium and zinc along with a little bit of selenium.
Kale is also notably a pretty good natural source of sodium, although this isn’t a concern for goats unless they’re getting a ton of salt elsewhere in their diet.
All in all, kale is tremendously nutritious and definitely worth feeding to your goats as long as you’re cautious. This is because…
Too Much Kale Can Cause Problems for Goats!
But, the other side of the coin with kale is that it can potentially hurt your goats if you give them too much. This is because kale contains certain toxic compounds called glucosinolates.
When it goes ingest too much kale, or if they get too much kale in their diet over a period of time, these compounds will accumulate and eventually begin to harm red blood cells, rupturing them.
This, of course, is very bad as it will start to deprive the bloodstream and subsequently the tissues and the goat’s body of oxygen.
You’ll notice this getting worse and worse over time, being visibly apparent as sluggishness and general depression and affected goats will start to show a red tint in their urine.
But when the condition becomes very acute, true anemia, goats will be incapable of standing and organ failure will be inevitable without prompt intervention.
Definitely bad news, but this fate is avoidable so long as you only give your goats a little kale every so often on a strict schedule so their body can safely process these compounds.
Also, do keep in mind that younger kale plants contain dramatically more of these mentioned compounds, so feeding your goats only mature kale plants will help limit exposure.
Is Kale Safe for Goats Raw?
Yes, raw kale is safe for goats so long as they don’t get too much of it. It is easy for goats to eat, and also has the best possible amount of vitamins and minerals, making this the best option for serving your goats.
Can You Cook Kale to Give it to Goats?
You can cook kale and give it to your goats, but you don’t really need to. It might make it more appealing to goats that shy away from it otherwise, but it’s going to dramatically deplete the vitamin and mineral content, and also doesn’t really do anything to neutralize those harmful compounds we talked about above.
If you got any goats that will only eat cooked kale, just consider feeding them a different vegetable as a supplement.
How Frequently Can Goats Have Kale?
Infrequently: I recommend no more than a small portion once a week as part of a complete and well-rounded diet.
Kale is a wonderful source of nutrition for goats, but it has some major and dangerous downsides and that means it is never going to be a primary or even secondary part of their diet.
Feed them a little side of kale every once in a while, or even give it to them periodically as a treat in the form of fresh greens.
Never Serve Kale to Goats if it Has Harmful Ingredients or Chemicals
Kale is an increasingly popular salad veggie that people grow at home and buy from farmers markets, but wherever you get it from, you must ensure it has not been treated with any pesticides or other chemicals that could harm your goats.
Washing your kale is not completely sufficient to eliminate all traces of these chemicals.
Similarly, you should never give your goats any kale it has been prepared with additional ingredients they can’t have, things like dressings, bacon, oil and so forth.
All that’s going to do is severely disrupt the digestive system of your goats and cause bloating, diarrhea and other problems.
How Should You Serve Kale to Your Herd?
If you have large goats that are mostly self-sufficient, you can simply hand over whole heads of kale, according to the portion you want to serve your herd, and let them tear bites off of it.
But if you have picky eaters, don’t hesitate to cut your kale in half or chop it up into manageable pieces; it’ll be easier for your goats to handle.
Just remember, in all cases mind the quantity: You should never, ever allow your goats to free-eat kale!
Is Kale Safe for Baby Goats?
You can feed kale to baby goats once they’re old enough to be eating solid foods at all times, but there are some pretty big reservations…
For starters, maybe goats are significantly more vulnerable to those dangerous compounds in kale owing to their underdeveloped systems and much lower body weight.
For this reason, I recommend allowing your baby goats to grow up into proper adolescence before you allow them to try a little bit of kale for the first time.
Don’t Leave Leftover Kale Lying Around
When your goats are finished with the kale, they might leave some scraps lying around, or maybe they just get bored with it and wander off to find some other tastier morsels.
Whatever the case, make it a point to clean up the leftover kale; don’t leave it lying around.
Kale will begin to wilt and then rot quickly, and if your goats should come back around and eat this rotten kale it could make them very sick. Don’t risk it, clean up after them.
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.