Most goat owners keep their herds fed on a typical diet of hay, grass and pellets with supplements, but it’s a good idea to give them a little bit of variety in their diet with the occasional bit of fruit or vegetables.
They can eat most of the things that people can eat, but goats can’t eat quite everything. How about squashes? Can goats eat squashes and are they safe?
Yes, typical squashes are safe for goats to eat. Both winter and summer squash varieties are safe for goats and highly nutritious. However, goats should never eat ornamental squashes, and you should be cautious of serving them any wild squash as either may be toxic.
Whatever kind of squash you enjoy throughout the year your goats can have a little bit also. Squashes are a surprisingly good source of nutrition for goats, and they tend to like them, but they shouldn’t have them all the time.
Treat squashes like a treat for your goats, and they’ll be just fine. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about feeding squashes to your goats below…
What Benefits Does Squash Have for Goats?
Squashes can be a healthy supplement to the usual diet of your goats.
There are many different kinds of squash out there, from the versatile zucchini and the ubiquitous yellow squash in the summertime, to the sweet and savory winter squashes like the butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash.
All have different nutritional profiles, but all of them are safe, tasty, and edible for goats.
Whichever one you decide to feed your goats, the vitamins and minerals present in squashes will improve all sorts of facets of a goat’s health, from the oxygenation of blood and circulatory health overall, to supporting nerve function, eyesight and many metabolic functions.
Squashes can also improve organ function, skeletal health, healing, the maintenance of connective tissue and even the health and appearance of a goat’s skin and fur.
Your goats won’t know any of that, but they will know that squashes are tasty and that they like eating them!
This makes them a great treat to give to your goats occasionally, one that you can feel good about feeding to them.
Nutritional Profile of Squash
Most squashes contain a well-rounded assortment of both vitamins and minerals that goats need.
Both summer and winter squashes tend to be nutrient-dense, and you can expect to find a good amount of vitamin A and beta carotene, along with vitamin C and most of the B complex vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and, sometimes, pyridoxine or vitamin B6.
Other vitamins that squash cultivars might include are folate and vitamin K.
Mineral content is likewise pretty good, with most squashes showing a good cross-section of needed minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, potassium and zinc.
These are all nutrients that goats need, and they need several of them in abundance, and that makes squashes a good choice for giving them a treat or just breaking boredom with their usual feed.
Is Squash Safe for Goats Raw?
Yes, assuming the squash is safe for a goat to eat it is safe for them to eat raw. Know that your goats might struggle to eat some of the tougher or larger ones unless you prepare them for them.
Can You Cook Squash to Give it to Goats?
Yes, you can. Cooking squash is a great way to make it more appealing to some picky eaters in your herd, or to prep the firmer and harder varieties for eating. But you should know that it will reduce the nutrient content.
Don’t Feed Your Goats Ornamental Squashes!
One thing you should never, ever do is it feed your goats ornamental squashes, or gourds.
These squashes are not eaten for a reason, and that’s because they contain high amounts of toxins called cucurbitacins.
These toxins taste horrendous, and most goats will instinctively avoid them, but if they do eat them, it’ll give them severe indigestion and diarrhea, and can potentially damage their organs or kill them!
This can be tricky because some common squashes have ornamental strains that are grown specifically for decoration, not for eating.
Generally, if you get it from the produce section of your grocery store it is safe to eat, but if you’ve been given any squashes or have some unknown squashes growing on your property you must verify that they are safe.
If in doubt, just don’t risk it!
How Frequently Can Goats Have Squash?
Squashes of all kinds definitely make for a healthy supplement to the usual diet of your goats, but they are exactly that: a supplement, not a replacement for their usual feed and not something they should be eating all the time.
Because of this, I recommend it giving your goats one or two small servings of squash per week among other vegetables and a little bit of fruit to make an interesting, well-rounded diet for them.
If you do this, your goats will appreciate the change of pace, and get plenty of good nutrition from squashes without risking digestive upset or malnutrition.
Goats Should Only Be Served Plain Squash
Summer and winter squashes are prepared in all sorts of ways for all sorts of dishes, both sweet and savory.
No matter what kind you like, your goats should never get any of them: things like oils, butter, seasoning, salt, and so forth are all very bad for goats and will upset their digestive tract with potentially catastrophic results.
Stick with plain squash only, raw or cooked, for your goats!
How Should You Serve Squash to your Herd?
The best way to serve squash to your goats is depending on what kind of squash you’ve got.
For softer varieties that can easily be broken open, cut the squash into chunks and let your goats chew the flesh off of it. Alternately, you can cut the flesh off into chunks that they can easily chew and swallow.
For the really firm varieties, consider lightly roasting it- plain! – to soften it up and then let it cool before giving it over to your goats.
Is Squash Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, it is, so long as your baby goats are old enough to be eating solid food at all times. If they are still nursing, I will hold off on giving them any squash and let them keep subsisting on hay or early-life feed as appropriate.
Also, keep in mind that squash is healthy for baby goats, and they generally like it, but they shouldn’t get more than a few nibbles very occasionally.
Baby goats have strict nutritional requirements if they are going to develop properly and grow to be healthy, so don’t overdo it.
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.
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