Ask anyone who’s owned goats and they will tell you: goats really are eating machines. This isn’t to say that they live up to the old stereotype of eating genuinely inedible stuff like boot soles, tin cans and whatnot.
But these rambunctious creatures are truly gourmands, constantly on the lookout for the choicest and best foods.
Accordingly, the best and easiest way for you to get on their good side is to bring them delicious treats on a regular basis. It can keep them from misbehaving and help them stay energetic.
But not everything is safe for goats in unlimited amounts, especially when it comes to treats. Keep reading and I’ll tell you about some safe snacks for your animals that you can feed them in moderation…
Sometimes, you just need to go with the known! Goat treats, whether they’re a homemade recipe or an over-the-counter option, are always going to be a big hit with pretty much every goat.
And they contain a variety of ingredients, which can help keep them from getting bored. As always, goat treats are going to be pretty high in calories and not something that your goats should have all the time.
Give them just a couple once or twice a week, though, and they’ll be fine…
Horse treats are for horses, not goats! Right? Yes, but also no: horse treats are nutritionally balanced for horses, but they don’t have anything that’s directly, overtly harmful.
So long as you were only giving them to your herd as a treat, meaning occasionally and in small quantities, horse treats aren’t going to hurt them. Like everything else on this list, just don’t overdo it!
This is sure to be the craziest item on this list for some people! But, believe it, it’s true. Goats go bonkers for banana peels.
Yes, they love bananas themselves as a general rule of thumb, but I can promise you every goat loves the peels for some reason. Fine!
Banana peels are surprisingly nutritious for goats, too, and contain needed vitamins and minerals. I recommend you chop them up before serving them.
I’m not much for giving goats true junk food, but corn chips that are just basically corn and salt are fine so long as you give them in very limited amounts.
They are reasonably clean but highly caloric, though a small handful won’t hurt your goats. They’re crunchy, savory, and delicious and I promise when your goats hear that bag start crinkling they will come running all at once.
Alfalfa cubes are a great, if limited, treat for young goats, especially as they start to come off of a diet that is nothing but mother’s milk.
Packed with protein and lots of essential minerals, this is a wonderful snack and supplement for kids. And it’s okay to feed one or two, every now and then, to adult goats who tend to relish them.
There are all kinds of delicious berries out there in the world that are safe and nutritious for goats in limited quantities. These are also fruits that they could conceivably find and eat in the wild, making them even better.
I know some of my readers are bound to think I am off my rocker after recommending corn chips and now here I am pushing animal crackers. But I’m telling you the truth: Animal crackers, in very limited quantities, won’t hurt your goats.
Yes, they are basically processed cookies, but they aren’t terribly sweet and so don’t pose much of a risk of upsetting a goat’s rumen so long as you don’t go crazy. Lots of owners use animal crackers for training and incentivizing goats.
I know, I know. We’re verging on heresy here. Goats and legumes are a combination that usually ends in tragedy if they get too much, and peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts.
But some whole peanuts, unsalted and in the shell, make a wonderful treat that your goats will love and it won’t upset their stomach or rumen.
But like everything else on this list, moderation is key. Give your goats just a couple each as an easy-to-serve treat that they will look forward to and you shouldn’t expect any problems.
You knew bread was going to make an appearance on this list somewhere. Don’t make it a point to give your goats bread more than every once in a while because it’s difficult for them to digest.
Also, never give them raw bread dough. But some freshly baked or stale white or wheat bread that is a little crusty is okay as an occasional treat.
Popcorn, specifically the plain, unsalted kind, is a remarkably decent treat for goats. That’s because it’s pretty much just corn, and yes, I know that goats don’t need a lot of corn in their diet or any other grains.
That being said, popcorn is very light, dry, and not too hard for them to digest. A little handful will feel a lot more substantial than it really is, and that makes it a safe treat to toss to them now and then.
The most famous and iconic of the winter squashes. Goats love sweet and tender pumpkin flesh, but you’ll need to help them get to it by cutting it off of the hard, thick outer skin. The goats can also eat pumpkin vines and leaves if they want to.
Just a reminder, don’t serve anything made with pumpkin to your goats that is too crazy: pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin lattes, etc.
There is nothing on Earth like a perfectly ripe and juicy watermelon, and if you don’t believe me, just ask your goats. It’s a great way to help them stay hydrated and it’s very easy for them to digest.
But as good and wholesome as it is, it’s still sugary, so mind that portion size and only give it to them occasionally. It is still an awesome summertime treat, though!
Rice has been subjected to persistent old wives’ tales when it comes to animals. It’s always something about rupturing their intestines this or rupturing their stomach that! I’m here to tell you once and for all that it isn’t true.
You can give your goats raw or cooked rice as long as it isn’t made with any other super-salty ingredients. Small portions can be a good source of energy for them, but give it to them no more than once a week.
Another entry, another bit of human junk food that we are feeding to our goats! But in reality, saltine crackers are remarkably clean and even more decent if you get a low-sodium variety.
Goats are a lot like most other animals in that they tend to crave crunchy, carbohydrate-packed foods. They love crunching on a few crackers from time to time, and you can do a whole lot worse than saltines.
Can goats really have honey? Yes, they can, I promise! As you might expect, your goats will go crazy for the sweet and delectable taste of honey. Even better, it is totally natural.
However, it is still nothing but sugar and sugar can quickly upset the balance of their digestive system if you give them too much. A little spoonful, or a drizzle on other food, is all they should have no more than once a week…
Speaking of beets, goats can have them as a snack. In fact, goats can safely eat every single part of the plant, from the greens to the root.
But you must be cautious because these dense roots can be a choking hazard. Make sure you cut them up into manageable pieces prior to serving.
Your goats can eat all kinds of squashes, not just pumpkin as mentioned elsewhere. Acorn squash, spaghetti squash, yellow squash and more. They all have lots of great vitamins and minerals that goats will need, and they really seem to like the taste and texture.
Note that some squashes are quite dense with thick, hard skins that can be choking hazards, so crack them open and cut that flesh into cubes prior to giving it to your goats.
An apple a day keeps the vet away. No, that’s totally wrong, don’t do that. Goats shouldn’t have fruit every single day, but they absolutely can have a few bites of apple a couple of times a week.
Apple is easy for them to digest, crisp and sweet, meaning they love it. Just make sure you remove the cores and seeds, though!
One of the most popular tree nuts around the world, almonds are commonly fed to goats as a great source of minerals and protein.
This makes them a great if occasional supplement to their usual diet especially when they need a good shot of energy, but once again goats will only look forward to them because they are delicious.
Use almonds to incentivize your goats and give them only occasionally for best results.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals and of course plenty of carbohydrates, but they also have a texture and flavor that goats really enjoy.
The downside is that they’re very starchy and can cause issues for goats if they eat too much. That’s why they aren’t a typical part of their diet.
But you know the drill: cut sweet potatoes up into small cubes, or lightly cook them first, and then serve them.
Kelp meal? Seriously? Yes: Kelp meal is shockingly nutritious and has many trace minerals that goats need in their diet, specifically selenium, iodine, and more.
This is a good option to mix into other foods that you want to serve as a treat or even as a supplement into their usual feed to improve the flavor and make it more interesting.
Plums don’t get enough respect. They’re most commonly thought of when dried, as prunes, and then there are the butt of constant jokes because of their laxative effect. But I, and goats, think they are delicious when they are ripe!
Goats can have plums along with many other fruits as we will learn, but fruit
shouldn’t be a big part of their diet because it is so sugary. Natural sugar in the form of fructose, yes, but still sugar.
Pineapple, not to be confused with apple-apple, is an incredibly fragrant and sweet tropical fruit and just about the last thing that you can imagine any goat finding in the wild.
Nonetheless, it is safe for goats to eat. But just like every other fruit on this list, you should only give them a couple of pieces once a week.
Pineapple has abundant vitamins and other nutrients that can help goats stay healthy, but they can’t have it all the time.
Grapes are tender and juicy, and yet another type of berry that goats absolutely adore. The trick with grapes is that they are so juicy and so sweet it is easy for goats to go overboard and upset their stomachs – with potentially disastrous results!
Never let your goats free-eat from a quantity of grapes. You either want to feed them to your goats individually or set up several smaller feeding stations so that one goat can’t gorge on them.
Goats love all sorts of fresh herbs, and oregano is one of their favorites. Although it contains pungent oils and other compounds which can, in excess, upset a goat’s digestive tract this is unlikely as long as you’re only giving it to them as a treat.
Oregano contains tons of minerals and antioxidant compounds that can give your goats a big health boost.
Another herb that’s fragrant and tasty to goats, thyme is likewise a healthy snack option for them. But, it’s also something that can cause stomach trouble if they eat too much.
You don’t have to worry about it if they come across a little bit of it growing wild when they are browsing, but don’t make it a point to feed them a huge bushel on your own.
One of the most versatile and popular kitchen herbs used around the world is also a big hit with goats. Sweet, tender, and highly nutritious, basil likewise has many health benefits for your herd. You already know what I’m going to say: only give them a couple of servings a week as a treat.
This might come as a shock, but most goats tend to really like that bracing, cool flavor of mint. Mint also contains powerful antioxidant and germ-fighting compounds that can help goats stay healthy.
But those pungent oils that give it that distinctive flavor can also upset their stomach or cause discomfort if they get too much. Save it as a unique treat or an occasional addition to other foods.
An almost unpronounceable culinary grain and actually a seed that’s closer to beets than cereal grains, it’s famously nutritious and packed with all sorts of good vitamins and minerals.
All goats know is that they like the taste, but they like it a little bit too much for it to be a part of their regular diet. A little handful of cooked or raw quinoa periodically makes a wonderful and nourishing treat, though.
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.