Every goat owner already knows that their goats eat all sorts of plant matter. Domestic goats get to enjoy a varied diet of hay along with grass and other forage.
When goats are allowed to browse, they eat all sorts of things. One wild edible that most goat owners don’t pay too much attention to are mushrooms.
Mushrooms can be tasty, but everyone knows by now that the wrong mushrooms can be absolutely deadly. So, can goats eat mushrooms, and is it safe for them to?
Yes, goats can eat safe, non-toxic mushrooms. Wild, toxic mushrooms are a significant hazard for goats, however. Good mushrooms do have many nutrients that goats need.
Mushrooms for goats, just like people, are an all-or-nothing proposition: the good ones are safe and highly nutritious, but the bad ones will usually kill a goat stone-cold dead.
For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that you know with 100% certainty the provenance of any mushroom that you feed to your goats or allow them to eat, and steps must be taken to curb the growth of any potentially toxic mushrooms on your property. I’ll tell you more below…
Be Careful! Many Wild Mushrooms are Extremely Toxic
Before we cover anything else, we must talk about the hazard posed by wild, toxic mushrooms. Mini mushrooms, as you probably already know, range from highly toxic to lethally poisonous for people and goats alike.
Obviously, if any of your goats were to, unknown to you, find and eat such a mushroom, the consequences are going to be disastrous.
Furthermore, you cannot count on your goats instinctively avoiding dangerous mushrooms. Many animals do have such good instincts, but mistakes and accidents still happen.
This is why toxic wild mushrooms are a significant cause of livestock injury and death year in and year out.
Likewise, any mushrooms that you gather must be positively identified with no room for error.
Considering that many dangerously poisonous mushrooms look very similar to innocent, nutritious and tasty ones you must know what you are doing if you plan to gather wild mushrooms for your herd.
For you expert mushroom hunters, some common, safe North American varieties for goats include:
- Fairy Ring
- Sweet Tooth
Likewise, some dangerous or deadly wild mushrooms that are commonly mistaken for the above include the following:
- Big Red (aka Carolina false morel)
- Ivory Funnel
- Eastern Destroying Angel (sometimes mistaken for young Sweet Tooth)
These are just a few examples, and there are many more safe and dangerous mushrooms out there.
A better option, I think, is to grow your own from a purchased kit or just buy mushrooms at the grocery store to supplement the diet of your goats.
What Benefits Do Mushrooms Have for Goats?
Assuming you are feeding your goat a nutritious and tasty safe mushroom, they actually have quite a lot of benefits for goats.
Mushrooms have many vitamins and minerals that can improve many factors of a goat’s health, namely the performance of the circulatory system and oxygenation of the blood, many metabolic processes, skin and fur health, the strengthening of bones and teeth and even the reduction of cellular damage due to oxidation- mushrooms are a good source of antioxidants, don’t you know!
Plus mushrooms are a decent source of energy for goats, and very easy for them to eat and digest. This makes them a wonderful periodic treat or supplement for your goats.
Nutritional Profile of Mushrooms
The nutritional profile of a mushroom will vary a little bit depending on the species, but generally mushrooms have a well-rounded lineup of macro- and micronutrients that will benefit goats.
They have protein and carbohydrates and also a dependably good assortment of vitamins and minerals.
Looking at morels, one of the most popular and flavorful mushrooms out there, we see they are great sources of vitamins D, B2 and B3, a good source of B5 and a surprisingly decent source of protein for a mushroom. They are also packed with iron, copper and manganese which goats need.
Cremini mushrooms are another popular variety, one you can find at nearly any grocery store.
Creminis are loaded with antioxidants and protein, and are a dependable source of B-complex vitamins, though they are not as outstanding as morels are.
All in all, there is a lot to like and these are all nutrients that goats need.
Are Mushrooms Safe for Goats Raw?
Yes, raw mushrooms are just fine for goats. This is also the best way to serve them because they contain the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals.
Curiously, there are more than a few goats that seem to avoid raw mushrooms, and this seems to be a genuinely individual preference.
You might have goats of the same breed, even the same family, that prefer or shun raw mushrooms with no other rhyme or reason.
Are Button Mushrooms Safe for Goats?
Yes, button mushrooms are safe for goats. These popular, little white mushrooms are just the immature form of cremini and/or portabella mushrooms, which are also safe and nutritious for goats.
Can You Cook Mushrooms to Give Them to Goats?
Yes, it is okay to serve cooked mushrooms to your goats. Interestingly, most goats seem to prefer the texture, and maybe the taste, of cooked mushrooms over raw ones, so if you have picky eaters in your herd gently cooking the mushrooms might be just the trick.
And just to make sure all of our bases are covered, cooking a poisonous mushroom doesn’t neutralize any toxins in it! Any mushroom that you cook for your goats must be safe to begin with!
How Frequently Can Goats Have Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are definitely a healthy option for your goats, and worth including in their menu periodically, but not something they should have all the time.
For this reason, I recommend you give your goats no more than two to three small servings of mushrooms a week.
So long as they’re eating predominantly hay along with grass and other forage, this should be more than enough to give them a boost of nutrition and a little bit of interest without risking a nutritional imbalance.
Can Mushrooms Cause Problems for Goats?
As mentioned, toxic and poisonous mushrooms are obviously going to be a major problem for your goats. But let’s assume that those aren’t the mushrooms you are feeding them!
Healthy mushrooms won’t really cause problems in your goats unless you are feeding them way too many.
They aren’t nutritionally complete or balanced for goats, and they should only ever be a supplementary item to their usual diet. Assuming you keep that in mind, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Goats Should Only Be Served Plain Mushrooms
You should never serve your goats any mushrooms that have been prepared with harmful ingredients that they shouldn’t have. Think of things like oil, butter, salt, and other seasonings.
All of these things can make mushrooms delicious, whether they are in a dish or not, but they definitely aren’t good for your goats.
Giving your goats too much salt or butter can easily result in digestive upset, and things like oil and seasonings can potentially disrupt the delicate balance of their rumen.
This in turn can lead to such major issues as bloat, diarrhea, vomiting or other potentially fatal issues.
Just give your goats plain mushrooms, whether they are raw or cooked.
How Should You Serve Mushrooms to your Herd?
You have a couple of options for serving mushrooms to your herd depending on how big your goats are or how big the mushrooms are.
If you have large goats, or really small mushrooms, you can leave the mushrooms whole and goats won’t have any issues eating them assuming they like them.
If you have smaller goats, or are dealing with large and sturdy mushrooms, you should chop them up into bite size chunks that your goats can easily handle.
Are Mushrooms Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, baby goats can have mushrooms also so long as they’re old enough to be eating solid food all the time.
As always, keep the quantities very small and keep an eye on them after they try mushrooms for the first time to make sure they don’t get indigestion.
Also, it should be mentioned that baby goats are incredibly vulnerable to any sort of toxin, way more than adults. The slightest mishap involving a baby goat and any sort of poisonous mushroom is highly likely to result in death directly or from complications.
Take no chances whatsoever concerning poisonous or unknown mushrooms with your goats, and especially your baby goats!
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.