Goats love to browse for their food, and this is very important to their overall health. They need grass, plant materials, and some fruit and vegetables. So, can goats eat corn?
Yes, goats can eat corn, but only in moderation. An excess of corn consumption can result in painful urinary tract stones and acidosis. But there are definitely benefits that eating this grain will have for your goats – in moderation!
The amount of corn your goats eat should always be strictly controlled and supervised by you.
Do not feed them corn before they have had a good, healthy meal so that they do not fill up on corn and do not eat all the good stuff – grass, hay, plant materials, wheat, and feed because they are too full.
If you want to treat your goats with corn, feed the corn in small amounts – especially when giving corn to your goat kids.
Here is everything you need to know about feeding goat’s corn.
The Benefits of Corn in a Goats Diet
There are several benefits eating corn has for goats.
Starch: improves milk production in dairy goats.
Protein: is needed for strong muscles; reparation of injured tissue; to ensure a healthy immune system; to ensure that your goats have a healthy reproduction system; and that they produce good quality and quantity of milk during lactation.
Sugar: corn is a great sugar source, giving your goats much-needed energy.
Vitamin A: helps strengthen your goat’s immune system and keeps its skin healthy.
Calcium: is needed for good bone and muscle development, and to maintain healthy nerves and a healthy cardiovascular system.
Magnesium: is needed to metabolize carbs and fat – good metabolizing of food will help keep your goat’s weight down. It is also a good source of energy production.
Iron: ensures that your goats do not become anemic and helps move oxygen through the blood to all parts of your goat’s body.
Phosphorous: assists with metabolism; helps improve the function of enzymes; and ensures that a healthy acid-base balance in the goat’s body is maintained.
Zinc: introducing zinc in your goat’s diet is the best way to calm your goat’s down when they are behaving skittishly, and it also helps break down proteins.
Manganese: is vital during pregnancy and lactation; it helps with bone, organ, and brain development.
Vitamin B (B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6): is essential to maintain a healthy nervous system.
Vitamin C: helps your goats recover from illnesses quickly and boosts your goat’s immune system.
Folate: helps repair and synthesize DNA and is important for healthy liver function.
Fiber: is vital for your goat’s digestive system. It also will improve the quality and quantity of milk produced.
Potassium: metabolizes food; it breaks it down and ensures that all the essential nutrients are properly absorbed.
Corn also generates heat in small portions. This makes corn a great winter treat. But generating heat in summer is not recommended.
The Risks of Corn in a Goats Diet
There are several risks that feeding corn has on goats, these can be prevented by rationing portions.
- can lead to acidosis
- cause the pH level in the goat’s rumen to drop
- microbes that are necessary for digestion can be harmed
- can cause the goat to stop eating altogether, which will lead to death
- can cause diarrhea
- can cause depression
- can cause enterotoxaemia
- is tough on the goat’s teeth
- the amount of calcium can result in urinary calculi in bucks
- too much calcium can result in milk fever if given to a doe who is currently fighting off illness or is prone to problems during pregnancy, birth, or during lactation
- can have pesticides on it from the farm – always wash any treat before giving it to your goats
- can cause the highly infectious listeriosis disease that causes encephalitis, blood infections, and spontaneous abortion
Can Goats Eat All Parts of Corn Plants?
Yes, it is safe to give your goats corn husks. They are not likely to enjoy them if they are still wrapped around the cob.
It is very difficult for your goats to pull the husk off the cob due to the shape and strength of their mouths. Your goats will appreciate your help with getting the husks off of the cob.
If you are preparing corn on the cob for your family, save the husks for your goats.
It is also healthy to add to your goat’s feed.
Yes, you can feed your goats the stalks. They are not very fond of the stalks because it is hard to bite pieces off. You can help out by cutting the stalks into manageable pieces.
Make sure there is no mold on the stalks. Mold does tend to occur on the stalks and is very unhealthy for your goats.
While roots are safe, you have a better chance of them being eaten if you try to feed them to your toddler – do NOT try to do so, I am just making a point.
The roots are not flavorful at all; therefore, goats will not dig the roots up and will not eat them if they are offered.
Yes, goats can safely eat both wet and dry cob.
It is a bit hard for them to eat due to the size of the cob. You could help your goats eat this tasty part of the corn by grinding it.
Yes, corn is tasty and healthy for your goats.
Preparing Corn for Goats
Feeding Raw Corn
It is probably safest to feed raw corn to your goats. However, because it is hard, it can be hard on your goats’ teeth.
If you feed raw whole corn to your goats, it will swell in their stomachs filling them up and disrupting the rumination pattern.
Feeding Your Goats Cooked Corn
Cooking corn will make it soft, making it easier for your goats to eat.
However, you must never feed any food that has been seasoned, or cooked in seasoning, to your goats. Salt, sugar, and all other spices can cause extreme harm to your goat’s delicate digestive system.
Cooking corn can remove many of the nutrients from the corn. Save the water and let your goats drink it.
Feeding Your Goats Popcorn
If you want to cook corn, why not make it fun?
Unseasoned popcorn is the perfect way to serve corn. The heat causes the corn to crack, making it better for the goats’ digestive system.
The popcorn is also crunchy; they will love the texture of the popcorn.
Feeding Your Goats Corn on the Cob
Corn on the cob can be extremely challenging for goats to eat. Goat’s small mouths and teeth are better suited to eating soft food like grass and other plants.
The size and shape of their mouths can make corn on the cob very hard to eat.
If you cook it, you will make it softer for your goat’s teeth, but the size of the cob will still make it hard for your goats to eat.
Some goats enjoy a challenge. For them eating corn on the cob can be a good way to get them to mentally engage in the task of eating.
Feeding Your Goats Whole Corn
Feeding your goats whole corn is never a good idea.
A goat’s teeth were not intended for grinding hard food like whole grain. Goats are forages with a diet of leaves, grass, and other plant material.
Whole corn can damage your goat’s teeth making chewing the needed grass painful.
Whole corn swells resulting in the goats feeling full and reducing their appetite for the nutritious plants they need.
Feeding Goats Cracked Corn
It is far better to feed your goats cracked corn as it passes through the goat’s body quickly without impeding the goat’s digestive system.
If your goats are underweight, you can feed them steamed cracked corn to bulk up. However, you should only feed your goats 1% of their body weight max.
Feeding Corn as Part of Your Goats Diet
Corn is actually categorized as grass together with oats, rice, and wheat.
The nutrient value of corn has some goat parents including ground corn in their pet’s daily diet. They add 50% of ground corn with the daily diet of oats, rice, wheat, and plant materials.
Grain is important to a goat’s general health. Many homesteaders and farmers include ground or cracked corn mixed in to help with milk production, or to bulk up goat’s weight for meat production.
However, it is important to keep a balance of grain to vegetation for the nutrition of the goats.
How Much Corn Can a Goat Safely Eat?
75% of your goat’s diet should be grass and plant matter. Any supplement or treat should be limited to less than 25% of your goat’s feed.
A good rule of thumb is to feed 1% of a goat’s body weight if the goat is being raised for meat and 1.5% of a lactating goat’s body weight to aid in milk production.
Symptoms of Acidosis and Treatment
If you have taken all measures to prevent feeding your goat’s too much corn, but they slip into your storage area and help themselves to corn over the recommended daily intake, they are in danger of acidosis.
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced defecation
- Lack of rumination
- Muscle twitching
- Teeth grinding
- Weight loss
Left untreated, acidosis can lead to a painful death.
Most goats with mild to moderate acidosis can recover within a few days by removing all treats and putting them on a good diet.
In addition, give 2 – 3 ounces of sodium bicarbonate, magnesium hydroxide, or magnesium oxide orally to help neutralize the acid.
In severe cases, CALL YOUR VET!
Can Goat Kids Eat Corn
No, it is not safe to feed corn to kids. Baby goat’s stomachs are not developed enough to handle corn. No treat should ever be given to kids until the kids are completely weaned (+/- 16 weeks).
A kid is notably less equipped to fight through acidosis than adults are.
Their digestive and immune systems are just not ready for corn. Even after the goat is completely weaned, it is best to wait another 4 weeks to give the kid’s body enough time to mature.
Once they are ready, start with very small quantities.
Tips and Treats
Always clean up properly after feeding corn to your goats to reduce the chances of exposing your goats to harmful mold and decay.
Different fruits and vegetables hold different pros and cons for goats. You should be knowledgeable about these and feed sweeter treats in moderation.
To replace or reduce some of the high sugar content treats, try treating them once a week with a sweet fruit, and on other days feed treats like:
- Alfalfa Hay
This is… My Final Answer
While it is safe to treat your goats with corn, it should only be given sparingly, and it should always be prepared by grinding or cooking it lightly.
Goats fed corn will maintain good health; gain weight; have a better chance of improving the development of kids during pregnancy; and have better quantity and quality of milk for lactating does.
Never give it to your kids until they are fully weaned.
The vitamin and mineral content make corn a really good treat for your goats.
Di-Anne Devenish Seebregts was raised in an environment where daily life consisted of hiking, environmental conservation, growing fruit and vegetables, and raising poultry for meat and eggs.
She combined her passion for the writing word with her love of the pride that comes with not relying on others. She raised three children (who are now adults) to value the environment, and understand the value of being self-sufficient.