Goats are browsers, and that means that they eat a wide variety of plant matter, typically choosing the best bits from a lot of different plans as they roam around.
Domestic goats, on the other hand, typically subsist on a regimented diet consisting of hay or pellets with supplementation from various fruits, veggies, and some grain from time to time.
Speaking of grains, let’s look at rice. Can goats eat rice and is it safe for them to do so?
Yes, rice is safe for goats to eat. Rice has plenty of minerals that goats need, but not very many vitamins, and is very rich in carbs. That means that they shouldn’t eat rice on a regular basis.
Rice is definitely safe and wholesome for goats, but it’s really more of a treat or occasional fun food for them.
They’ll get plenty of energy and decent nutrition from rice, but it is nowhere close to nutritionally complete for them.
Worse, rice is extremely carbohydrate-dense and that can spell major health problems for girls if they’re allowed to eat too much or eat it too often. I’ll tell you what you need to know to make rice a part of your herd’s diet down below.
What Benefits Does Rice Have for Goats?
Rice is a reasonably good food for goats, even though it’s hardly nutritionally complete for them.
The main thing that goats will get from rice is abundant carbohydrates and also a good bit of protein. Goats need both for energy, so no problem there.
Most kinds of rice are also very rich in minerals that goats need, and all together, these minerals can improve everything from a goat’s skeletal growth and healing to the health of their teeth, the oxygenation of the blood and overall circulatory health, nervous system function, muscle function, support for the immune system, and blood pressure.
Selenium is also particularly important as an antioxidant that can help prevent cellular damage. Always important and especially critical for older goats.
This is definitely a worthwhile profile of benefits from rice, even if rice should not be a significant or ongoing part of any goat’s diet.
Nutritional Profile of Rice
There are many kinds of rice out there, and goats can eat pretty much all of them. Accordingly, the nutritional profile of rice will vary somewhat depending on what type you are talking about.
Generally, though, most types of rice are short on vitamins but rich in minerals, and a few minerals in particular…
Looking quickly at the vitamins we see that rice has very little to offer, with the only standouts being a minuscule amount of niacin and pantothenic acid. Other B-complex vitamins are present but in very small amounts.
But things are much happier on the mineral side of the house, with most kinds of rice being highly rich with phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, selenium and calcium.
Iron, zinc, copper and manganese are all present in significant but considerably lesser amounts.
Is Rice OK for Goats Raw?
Yes, rice is safe for goats to eat raw and they can digest it just fine. It isn’t as easy for them to digest as cooked rice, though, and that might cause a problem for goats that have more sensitive stomachs.
Can You Cook Rice to Give it to Goats?
Yes, cooked rice is just fine for goats, and it might be the best way to serve it to them. Goats generally seem to prefer cooked rice, and it is also significantly easier for them to digest.
Normally, cooking most foods will significantly reduce their nutritional content, specifically the loss of what few vitamins rice has to offer and also the mineral content.
But in this case, cooked rice is easier for goats to digest and improves the availability of what nutrients it has, so it’s sort of a moot point.
Is White Rice Safe for Goats?
Yes, it is. White rice is totally safe for your goats and very easy for them to digest.
Is Brown Rice Safe for Goats?
Yes, brown rice is also safe for goats. Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice, but somewhat harder for them to digest.
Is Wild Rice Safe for Goats?
Yes, once again. Wild rice is completely safe and edible by goats.
How Frequently Can Goats Have Rice?
Goats should only have rice in strict moderation. Generally, I would give them no more than a small serving of rice once or twice a week at most.
This should total out to be no more than around a half cup each time. This amount of rice is more than enough to give goats a good burst of energy and a nice treat, without a high probability of upsetting their digestive system.
To be totally clear: at no time should you allow goats to free-eat from a huge bin of rice.
This will entail a high probability of digestive upset and also mean they miss out on other, more nutritious foods because they have filled up on the rice.
Use rice as a treat or as an occasional supplement to the usual diet of your goats, and they will do just fine eating it.
If you try to substitute it for hay or any other foods they should be eating as a mainstay, there will be problems.
Can Rice Cause Problems for Goats?
Yes, rice can cause problems for your goats if you allow them to eat too much or if you feed it to them too often.
Weight gain and malnutrition are significant issues that might arise from giving goats too much rice in their diet generally, but giving them large quantities of rice can result in digestive upset, potentially rumen acidosis.
This is a condition where the pH level of a goat’s rumen drops and becomes too acidic, and that means they’ll be unable to properly digest food and can also suffer from serious diarrhea, weakness and potentially a fatal inflammation of the intestines.
This is not a specific threat associated with rice, but rather an outcome that is typical of goats that get way too many carbs, and grains particularly, in their diet.
Avoid giving your goats too much rice too often and you shouldn’t have to worry about it.
Goats Should Only Be Served Plain Rice
Rice is used in all sorts of dishes, and is itself often flavored in all kinds of ways. You’ll find it prepared with broths, seasonings, sauces, cheese, and a whole lot more.
As delicious as it can make rice, none of these things are okay for your goats. Butter, oils, salt, sugar and all that good stuff is right out, and can make your goat devastatingly sick.
Feeding your goat any rice that is so prepared is in a best-case scenario going to give them severe diarrhea, but in a worst-case scenario, it can upset the balance of the rumen as described above.
If you care about the health and well-being of your goats, just stick with plain rice whether it’s raw or cooked. Trust me when I say that your goats will enjoy it plenty.
How Should You Serve Rice to Your Herd?
My preferred way to serve rice to goats is cooked. They seem to have a much easier time digesting it, and I don’t think the loss of some minerals is a major trade-off.
Cook your rice until it is tender, then let it cool. If you want to you can form it into balls that will make it easier for your goats to eat, or place it in bowls if you are reasonably confident that all of your goats will get about an equal portion.
Remember, you don’t want them to eat too much!
Is Rice Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, rice is safe for baby goats also with just a few reservations.
The most important thing is that your baby goats should be old enough to eat solid food all the time before they try rice for the first time. Remember, it’s still a treat for them and never a staple!
Also, remember to keep the portion sizes very small and only give them a little bit every now and then as a treat.
Adolescent goats cannot afford to miss out on other more nutritionally complete foods while they are growing rapidly.
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.