Goats are browsers, and that means they eat a huge assortment of plants, and specifically they nibble the choicest bits from a lot of different plants.
Leaves are a popular food for goats in the wild, and for domestic goats that are allowed to forage. But not all plants are good or safe for goats, even some of the most common ones out there.
How about maple leaves from maple trees? Can goats safely eat maple leaves?
Yes, goats can safely eat maple leaves in moderation. Ideally, goats will eat live leaves or ones that have freshly fallen from the trees. Dead, dry maple leaves have been known to cause indigestion and diarrhea in goats.
Ask any goat owner with maple trees nearby and they will tell you: goats seem to love Maple leaves, and are more than happy to nibble on them if they can reach them.
This is totally natural, and maple leaves can play a meaningful part in a goat’s diet. Like all things, you don’t want to let goats fill up on them to the exclusion of better foods, and you need to be cautious if your goats are eating dead maple leaves.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know below…
What Benefits Do Maple Leaves Have for Goats?
I was unable to come up with any verified nutritional content information for maple leaves, and specifically as it relates to livestock animals like goats.
That being said, we do know that many kinds of leaves, maple leaves included, are a natural, generally healthy, and even significant portion of a goat’s diet and likely contain good levels of vitamin A , vitamin K and vitamin C, and needed minerals like magnesium, manganese and potassium.
The biology of goats is specially adapted to process maximum nutrition from fibrous plant matter like leaves. From maple leaves goats will get energy and also some of the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Sometimes, a bored goat might just want to eat maple leaves for a change of pace from its usual food.
Can Maple Leaves Cause Problems for Goats?
Yes. Like I said, it is possible for maple leaves to cause problems for goats. Typically, goats that eat too many dry, dead maple leaves can get diarrhea or indigestion and usually an associated loss of appetite and general lethargy.
However, this problem also tends to manifest in goats that eat too many live maple leaves also.
Maple leaves are healthy and a normal food for goats, but they shouldn’t replace hay and other better more nutritionally complete foods.
Are Maple Leaves Safe for Goats Raw?
Yes, raw maple leaves are edible and completely safe for goats. Goats eat all kinds of raw leaves with no problems and they can digest them.
Are Live Maple Leaves Safe for Goats to Eat?
Yes, they are. Live, fresh maple leaves are ideal for your goats. These are the easiest to digest and also the healthiest in terms of nutrition.
Live, tender maple leaves are also the least likely to cause serious indigestion goats.
Are Dead Maple Leaves Safe for Goats to Eat?
Yes, with reservations. Any freshly fallen leaf that still has its color and shape is almost as good as a live leaf on the tree as far as nutrition and digestibility is concerned. Goats can eat these, in moderation, with very few issues.
However dead, dry, crunchy maple leaves are the ones most commonly associated with causing diarrhea and other problems for goats.
Most of us that have owned goats already know that they can be surprisingly picky, and it’s unlikely that they will choose to eat the dry, dead leaves if they have fresh leaves to eat or if they have other, tastier foods.
That being said, you can’t count on your goats to not eat them, so if they do and seem to be doing so persistently you’ll want to get them away from those dead leaves or clean them up if you can.
Can You Cook Maple Leaves to Give Them to Goats?
Yes, theoretically, you could but there is really no reason to do so.
Cooking maple leaves isn’t going to make them any more appealing or digestible for your goats, and it’s almost certain that cooking will nearly eliminate what nutrients maple leaves have to offer.
Don’t waste your time!
How Often Can Goats Have Maple Leaves?
Goats can eat maple leaves intermittently as part of a nutritionally complete diet.
As mentioned, these are definitely a natural part of a goat’s diet, but not something you want them to eat all the time to the exclusion of better foods.
If you have lots of maple leaves around your property, you can give them a handful or two of fresh maple leaves per day to munch on without worry.
If your goats are allowed to go out and browse, you can let them nibble on maple leaves as they go without any issues as long as they take a few and move on.
You do not want to let your goats repeatedly eat large quantities of maple leaves every day, or give them a huge portion less often. Small amounts periodically is a good rule of thumb.
The bottom line is that maple leaves are not nutritionally complete for goats, and if they are eating predominantly maple leaves in place of other things it won’t be long before malnutrition starts to take hold.
Never Let Goats Eat Any Maple Leaves that Were Sprayed with Chemicals
Something else to be cautious about is that you should never let your goats eat maple leaves from trees that might have been sprayed with harmful chemicals.
This could be insecticides or even herbicides. Neither is good for your goats! And for this reason, you should be cautious about gathering up maple leaves from any unknown trees in the area.
How Should You Serve Maple Leaves to your Herd?
Goats generally take care of themselves when it comes to eating maple leaves as long as they can reach them.
They will be more than happy to pluck live leaves right off of the tree, eat leaves off of the ground and generally get their fill.
If you gather up fresh leaves for them and hand them over, they will happily eat the most of the time.
Are Maple Leaves Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, maple leaves are safe for baby goats as long as they are eating solid food all the time.
However, baby goats (and adolescent goats) have very specific nutritional requirements if they’re going to develop correctly and grow up strong.
You want your young goats eating hay or the appropriate early-life feed so you can be sure they are getting those nutrients.
They aren’t going to get what they need from maple leaves and once again should never be allowed to fill up on them!
Also, if they come down with diarrhea from eating maple leaves, that would be especially devastating for them and can cause their death.
You don’t need to sweat it if you’re young goats get a nibble or two of maple leaves here and there, but it’s up to you to make sure they’re getting the nutrition they do need.
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.