For folks who haven’t lived around or raised them, goats are often thought of as being very literal eating machines.
Many people believe that goats can eat absolutely anything, including such indigestible substances as tin cans, leather, and more.
Following that line of reasoning, you’d think that certainly a goat could eat any kind of food there is, including meat. But can goats really eat meat, and is it safe for them?
No, goats cannot safely eat meat. Goats cannot properly digest or derive nutrition from it, or any processed food containing animal protein. Consuming any quantity of meat can make your herd seriously ill.
I hope that is clear enough: you should never feed your goats meat or any food that has meat in it, including other kinds of animal feed or food.
Doing so is likely to make your goats very sick, potentially fatally so. It really is that cut and dry, but I’ll tell you more about the subject below.
Goats are Not Carnivorous
All you need to know when it comes to the question of whether or not goats can eat meat is the fact that goats are not carnivores. Aren’t even omnivores; goats are herbivores.
Carnivorous animals subsist on a diet that is entirely or almost entirely meat, and herbivores eat only plant matter. Omnivores eat a little bit of both.
So because we know that our goats are strictly herbivores, that means no meat, of any kind, belongs in their diet.
Goats subsist instead on a varied diet of hay, grass, twigs, bark, and various other greenery and plant matter.
Many domestic goats also get supplemental produce as treats or to cover nutritional gaps in their diet. Meat doesn’t belong anywhere on the menu for your goats, not as a treat, not as a joke, no way, no how.
But this doesn’t mean that your goats will necessarily avoid meat, or avoid foods that have animal protein in them.
Goats are often enthusiastic about getting some dry dog food or chicken feed when they can, but they shouldn’t eat it and shouldn’t be allowed to if you can stop it.
Best case scenario, meat can cause your goats indigestion and diarrhea. Worst case scenario, it could cause bloating or inflammation of the intestines, either of which can potentially be fatal.
Is Meat Safe for Goats Raw?
Absolutely not. One of the very worst things that a goat could eat is a chunk of raw meat. Goats aren’t predators; they don’t hunt animals for food and won’t scavenge from corpses.
So you definitely shouldn’t be serving them any raw meat.
In any case, if your goats for whatever reason do eat raw meat, they won’t be able to digest it, and the presence of specific germs and parasites in the meat can make your goats horrendously ill.
Can You Cook Meat to Give it to Goats?
Absolutely not. Cooking meat does nothing to make it more digestible for goats. They won’t be able to derive any extra nutrition from the cooked meat, and even though the cooking should, hopefully, eliminate harmful pathogens present in the meat, the presence of the meat alone in their stomach is still highly likely to make them very sick.
Is Animal Feed Containing Animal Protein Safe for Goats?
Again, no. Although highly processed dry animal feed that contains animal protein is usually more attractive and overall less objectionable to goats, it is still bad for them.
To be totally clear, you should never, ever give your goats any other kind of animal feed that contains animal protein.
If your goats managed to swipe a little bit of chicken feed, dog food or something else that has meat or meat byproducts, it might not even make them sick.
If they’re allowed to keep eating it or eat a large quantity of it a bad outcome is still highly likely.
How Much Meat Consumption Will Harm a Goat?
Assuming, for whatever reason, your goat was to eat meat it is difficult to say precisely how much meat is the amount that will make your goat sick.
Generally, the larger a goat is the more bad food it can tolerate before it starts to suffer the side effects. However, this is only a guideline and not something you should set out to test!
A rule of thumb, if you want to call it that, is that goats can tolerate a slightly larger quantity of processed “meat products”, like dry dog food, and a whole lot less of wet dog food, or raw or cooked meat.
Personally, if my goats get just a nibble or two, I will keep an eye on them but might not overreact absent any other symptoms.
But if I know my goats got into chicken feed or dog food that contains a lot of animal protein, a trip to the vet is usually in order.
What Should You Do if Your Goats Eat Meat?
As always, don’t panic. The very first thing you should do is to separate the goats from the offending food.
If one of your goats broke out and got into the chicken feed or dog food, get the goat back into containment. Otherwise, clean up and remove whatever food is left.
Then, perform an assessment: how many goats ate the food in question? Are you able to determine how much of the food they ate? Do the goats seem okay?
If it is a tiny amount, there’s probably nothing to worry about, just keep an eye on the goats for a change in behavior or appearance.
Be on the lookout for lethargy, diarrhea, and signs of goat bloat (distended abdomen or a very firm, balloon-like tummy).
If you suspect that your goats got into a large quantity, or if you notice their condition taking a turn for the worst, call your vet right away.
Follow their instructions, and take your goat in if necessary. Typically, with supportive care consumption of meat is unlikely to be fatal for a goat on a one-off basis.
That said, your goat might need to have its stomach pumped and have an IV administered depending on how much they ate and what kind it was.
Is Meat Safe for Baby Goats?
No! Baby goats must not ever eat meat or any other food containing animal protein, for any reason.
Baby goats are simply unable to cope with the general toxicity of meat, and considering they are so sensitive, and still developing, it is highly likely that baby go to experience pronounced negative outcomes.
Young kids are particularly susceptible to parasites and dangerous germs associated with raw meat, and even the crude protein found in dog food can cause major problems for them.
Never, ever give your baby goats any meat, and do whatever you must to keep them from getting at any animal food containing animal protein.
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.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.