Can Goats Eat Sunflower Seeds? Is it Safe?

There is hardly any kind of plant matter that goats won’t eat. They eat leaves, grass, hay, twigs, stems, bark, blooms, buds and more. If it’s green or brown and it grows, it’s on the menu.

a goat enjoying some sunflower seeds

But how about things like seeds that goats might not necessarily find or see? Can you give your goats these seeds, are sunflower seeds safe for them?

Yes, sunflower seeds are safe for goats. Goats can eat them in their entirety, including the tough outer hull. Sunflower seeds are very nutritious for goats, but also very high in calories and so should be given to them sparingly.

Sunflower seeds are a wholesome, tasty and nutritious snack that goats tend to really like. Feel good about giving sunflower seeds to your goats, but you must serve them in moderation.

As good as they are, they have tons of calories and will cause your goats to gain weight if you aren’t careful.

Keep reading, and I’ll tell you what you need to know if you want to add sunflower seeds to the diet of your goats

What Benefits Do Sunflower Seeds Have for Goats?

Goats really love getting a handful of sunflower seeds, but they aren’t just a tasty snack that can improve their mood and give them energy.

Sunflower seeds are incredibly nutrient-dense, containing huge amounts of needed minerals and vitamins that are vital for the health and vigor of your goats.

Together, all of these nutrients can improve absolutely every element of a goat’s health, from skeletal growth and healing to the maintenance and repair of connective tissues, metabolic functions, nervous system support, eyesight, skin health, fur quality, hormone production, circulatory health and the function of the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys.

Very impressive, and that is only a partial list of the benefits.

Sunflower seeds also contain antioxidants that can prevent oxidative damage to cells, and the nutrients they contain will help goats continue to use the vitamins and minerals they get from other foods, maintaining energy production, and overall health.

Sunflower seeds even have benefits for pregnant does and gestating kids, improving overall fertility and birthing rates while minimizing the chances of complications or deformities.

Remarkably good all-natural supplement to the diet of your herd by any standard!

Nutritional Profile of Sunflower Seeds

That is quite the list of benefits that sunflower seeds provide for goats, but where do the benefits actually come from?

Let’s look at the vitamin and mineral content to find out: sunflower seeds contain a truly tremendous amount of various vitamins that goats need, particularly thiamine and pyridoxine B vitamins, along with vitamin E in similar abundance.

But the other B-complex vitamins including riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid are also strongly represented along with a good dose of folate which is critical for DNA production in the body.

Sunflowers are also incredibly rich with needed minerals, first among them magnesium, manganese, iron and phosphorus with somewhat lesser amounts of zinc and calcium backing them up.

Each and every one of these nutrients are needed for goats to stay healthy and strong, and resist disease. Sunflowers are a wonderful way to make sure they get them or to cover gaps in their usual diet.

Goats Finally get to eat sunflower garden!

Are Sunflower Seeds Safe for Goats Raw?

Yes, raw sunflower seeds are totally safe for your goats and the best way to serve them. Raw sunflower seeds are easy for goats to eat and contain the maximum amount of nutrients.

Are Sunflower Kernels Safe for Goats?

Yes, they are. The kernels are the inner, edible parts of the sunflower seed, and they’re sometimes called sunflower hearts. They are highly nutritious, and totally edible by goats.

Are Sunflower Seed Hulls Safe for Goats?

Yes. The tough, outer shell of a sunflower seed, the hull, it’s not very appetizing or digestible to people, but goats won’t be bothered by them at all, typically eating them together with the kernel.

Can You Cook Sunflower Seeds to Give Them to Goats?

Yes, cooked sunflower seeds are safe for goats as long as they don’t have any additional ingredients added to them. I’ll talk about that in a minute.

How Frequently Can Goats Have Sunflower Seeds?

Sunflower seeds are so nutritious you might already be thinking of making them a permanent fixture on the menu for your goats, but don’t do that.

As good as they are, sunflower seeds are a supplement, or a treat, not a main course or a staple. Accordingly, you should only give your goats a small serving of sunflower seeds once or perhaps twice a week.

Any more than that, and chances are they’re going to start gaining weight or run into nutritional imbalances. Under no circumstances, for any reason, should you let your goats free eat from a large quantity of sunflower seeds!

Can Sunflower Seeds Cause Problems for Goats?

Potentially, but this is unlikely as long as you moderate the quantity they are given. Sunflower seeds are highly caloric, and as good as they are for goats they are not a nutritionally complete food.

If you give your goats too many sunflower seeds, you’ll probably notice them gaining weight, and they might take a liking to them in preference of other foods which can cause behavioral issues.

Letting your goats eat way too many sunflower seeds can cause digestive upset which can result in bloat, diarrhea, and other problems.

Goats Should Only Be Served Plain Sunflower Seeds

You probably already know that sunflower seeds are a popular snack with people too, and today they come in an immense variety of flavors and special artisanal seasonings.

Bottom line: none of these things are good for goats. They don’t need any natural or artificial seasonings, extra salt, and anything like that because that can easily make them sick or severely upset their stomach.

Stick to plain, unsalted sunflower seeds for your goats, and don’t forget that you can and should be buying these from a livestock feed outlet or a pet food retailer if possible.

How Should You Serve Sunflower Seeds to your Herd?

Just toss them to your goats. That’s it. They’ll find them and eat them, but if you want to make it a little easier on them, you can feed goats sunflower seeds right out of your hand or place them in a trough, tray, bowl or any other container where they are used to getting food from.

And don’t forget that you don’t need to go to any extra trouble or expense shelling sunflower seeds for your goats: they can and will eat that tough outer shell with no issues.

Are Sunflower Seeds Safe for Baby Goats?

Yes. But, you’ll want to be cautious. Sunflower seeds are wholesome and nutritious for baby goats that have started eating solid food at all times, but they are very high in calories for them and won’t get quite all of the nutrition they need to develop properly.

There’s no harm in giving baby goats a few sunflower seeds as a rare treat, though.

Take Care When Storing Sunflower Seeds

Your goats will generally take care of cleaning up any sunflower seeds that you give them, but you’ll want to be cautious of storing sunflower seeds outside anywhere near your goats.

For starters, if they can smell them they will work hard to try to get to them but that isn’t the problem.

Sunflower seeds, like most seeds, are incredibly attractive to rodents. Before you know it, you’ll have a booming population of mice and rats running around which can cause serious issues for you and your animals.

Make sure you keep those sunflower seeds stored properly where they can’t get to them!

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