Goats can eat a wide variety of foods, including quite a few foods that people eat. But where things usually go wrong is when people want to share their favorite snacks and treats with their goats.
Contrary to what you might have been told, goats really cannot eat everything! Then again, there are a few surprising things that goats can eat. How about popcorn? Can goats eat popcorn and is it safe?
Yes, goats can eat popcorn safely. Although it’s basically a treat for them, goats will get some nutrition and good energy from popcorn.
Believe it or not, popcorn can be a pretty animal-friendly snack, and that includes for goats. Popcorn is nothing more than a pop grain, and goats can eat grains although they should never get too many in their diet.
Popcorn has vitamins and minerals that goats also need, so this isn’t a terrible choice for a periodic snack that will keep them interested and excited to see you.
I’ll tell you everything else you need to know about giving popcorn to your goats below.
What Benefits Does Popcorn Have for Goats?
Popcorn has some minor, but still meaningful, health benefits for your goats. Is a good source of energy for them and is pretty easy for them to digest.
This can make it great for giving your goats a quick burst of energy when they are stressed or during cold weather. But more than that, popcorn also contains vitamins and minerals in abundance, including many that goats need.
Together, these nutrients will do everything from improving fur and skin health, circulatory health, growth, cellular maintenance, metabolic processes, and a lot more.
That being said, don’t get it mixed up: popcorn is purely an occasional treat for goats, never a staple of their diet and not even a regular inclusion in a well-rounded diet.
Just because it has some fringe benefits, that doesn’t mean goats can eat it all the time or eat as much as they want.
Nutritional Profile of Popcorn
Most people think of popcorn as throwaway junk food, and maybe in the grand scheme of things it is, but it still has a highly respectable amount of B-complex vitamins and lots and lots of minerals.
Looking at the vitamins, popcorn has a great amount of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6, backed up by a significantly lesser amount of pantothenic acid. All vitamins that goats need, by the way!
But the mineral content of popcorn is truly impressive, containing a tremendous amount of zinc manganese, magnesium and phosphorus along with somewhat lesser, but still very significant amounts of copper, iron, potassium, and selenium.
Very respectable if you ask me!
Is Popped Popcorn Safe for Goats?
Yes, popped popcorn is safe for goats, and is the only way that you should serve it to them. It is crunchy, crispy and easy for goats to eat, and it take it from me they love the stuff.
Also, a major benefit for you, compared to many other treats that you might give goats, like peanut butter, popcorn is dry, clean and won’t make a mess.
Are Popcorn Kernels Safe for Goats?
No. Popcorn kernels are just corn, and it goes can eat corn, of course, but these kernels are incredibly dense and hard. They are a hazard to a goat’s teeth sometimes, and very difficult for them to digest.
Don’t give your goats any unpopped popcorn kernels, by the way…
How Frequently Can Goats Have Popcorn?
Once a week, a small amount. Goats love popcorn, but it should not be a significant part of their diet.
It is a treat, and aside from its incomplete nutritional profile as you already know, goats don’t need too many grains in their diet or else they can risk bloat and other issues.
Give each of your goats a little handful of popcorn once a week and they will love you for it.
Can Popcorn Cause Problems for Goats?
Yes, it can. Feeding goats too much popcorn, any other grain or any other carbohydrate-rich food can result in a condition known as rumen acidosis, a condition where the pH level of a goat’s rumen will drop below normal levels.
This can result in significant health issues, including a loss of appetite, lethargy, inability to stand, severe diarrhea, bloat, and even death.
It’s generally considered a medical emergency when acute, and corn and other carb-rich foods are common offenders.
Accordingly, as I said above, you never want to give your goats lots of popcorn or other grains in their diet. Your goats can safely eat popcorn, but they should only have a small quantity once a week as a treat.
Never Serve Buttered or Flavored Popcorn to Goats
On that note of serving popcorn to your goats, make it a point to only give them plain, unsalted popcorn.
Popcorn that’s loaded with butter, seasonings, flavorings, salt and all those other delicious add-ons is going to be very hard on a goat’s digestive system.
This can easily result in an imbalance or upset that can make a goat very sick. If you care about your goats, and want to feed them popcorn, just stick with the plain stuff, or lightly salted popcorn in a pinch but nothing else.
And trust me, they will love plain popcorn just fine.
How Should You Serve Popcorn to Your Herd?
Serving popcorn to your herd is as easy as it gets! All you need to do is pop it, and then throw it out there for them to eat.
You can also put the popcorn in a bowl, trough or other container as long as you are reasonably sure that all of the goats will get a more or less equal portion. Remember, it is bad for any goat to get too much popcorn.
Is Popcorn Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, it is, with a few guidelines. Make sure your baby goats are old enough to be eating solid food continually, and then only give them a little bit of popcorn as a treat, I’m talking just a few pieces.
Baby goats have especially delicate digestive system that could be disrupted by any new food, and particularly grains.
Clean Up Any Leftover Popcorn When Your Goats are Done
When your goats are finished with the popcorn, assuming there’s any trace of it left, pick it up and get rid of it.
Unlike many other foods that you might leave out after your goats are finished with it, you aren’t really worried about the popcorn rotting and causing a stink, but it will definitely attract rodent pests to the area.
Mice and rats, and potentially raccoons and possums, hanging around can cause problems for you and your animals.
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.