Why Do Goats Eat Everything?!

Why Do Goats Eat Everything?!

You may have heard the saying “goats eat everything,” but is this true? Cartoon depictions of goats frequently show them eating tin cans, paper, and all kinds of stuff. But we’re here to make sense of it all.

You may have seen goats in movies licking a can or some trash, but those are movies. Recently, the popular trends has become goats for hire. People will rent their goats and let them cut your grass or mow your field.

What Do Goats Really Eat?

Goats are actually pretty picky eaters. Unlike the common myth that they eat everything, they only eat vegetation. If you see a goat licking a tin cash or other trash, they’re not trying to eat it. They’re probably just licking it because it has some sweet flavor on the outside. The tin can myth came from people seeing goats licking tin cans because the label glue was sweet. They weren’t actually trying to eat the metal.

Mature goats can never eat any animal product because it’s not good for them. They’ll obviously have milk from their mother in the first 8-10 weeks after they’re born, but that’s the only time they can eat or drink anything from another animal.

The main food for your goats should be some form of “roughage” or hay. We prefer to use grass or legume hay because that’s what we’ve found works best for our goats. They definitely shouldn’t be eating grain all day because that can cause a myriad of digestive issues.

How Many Stomachs?

Goats are ruminants, which means they have a multi-chambered stomach to digest their food. This multi-chambered stomach system takes their food, digests it, brings it back up again, digests it more, and does this several times.

When you see them eating the hay, that’s the first time it’s being digested. But often times you’ll see goats just chewing and not actually eating anything. They’re chewing their “cud” and you can sometimes see it come up their throat if you look close enough. They’ll chew it again and swallow it again until it’s digested completely.

One of the four stomachs on a goat is called the “rumen.” This is where the term “ruminant” originates. This stomach acts like a big fermentation vat to help digest all the vegetation that goats eat. The bacteria and protozoa inside the rumen break down the vegetation and make it usable for the goats body. It works like a factory to build proteins and manufacture B Vitamins.

One upside of growing goats it that their poop usually doesn’t stick around for long. It’s a really good fertilizer for our garden, but the chickens will also peck at it and eat bugs from it. When you have goats, you usually don’t have big piles of poop everywhere. The rain or other animals will usually remove it for you.

So next time someone tries to tell you that goats eat everyone, you can let them know that’s not true. If you see a goat and want to feed it, don’t give it any kind of animal protein. Make sure the goat is eating just roughage or specific grain designed for goats. To see this blog in video format on our YouTube channel, click the play button below.

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