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  • Writer's pictureBrowns' Family Farmstead

13 Common Poisonous Plants for Goats You Need to Know About

A crucial factor in keeping your goats safe and healthy is ensuring they do not eat any poisonous or toxic plants. This complete guide will help you identify the most common toxic plants and answer most commonly asked questions.

Table of Contents

Do Goats Eat Poisonous Plants?

Goats are excellent self-regulators when it comes to minerals, hay, baking soda, etc. However, there are situations and reasons that would lead to goats eat toxic plants.

The Most Common Reasons Are:

How Can I Prevent My Goat From Eating Poisonous Plants?

If you are able to identify the cause for your goats lack of discretion from the above list, I recommend you start by addressing that issue.

If your goats have adequate food, water, and a proper diet then the most likely factor is curiosity/ boredom. The best step you can take is adding enrichment into your goats pen. We have compiled 29 toys and enrichment ideas that will aid in curing your goats boredom.

How Severe is Plant Poisoning?

There are a variety of factors that impact the severity of plant poisoning from toxic plants.

Biggest Factors to Severity:

  • Age of Goat

  • Health of Goat

  • Moisture in the Ground

  • Type of Plant

  • Quantity

  • Size of Goat

What Makes Plants Poisonous to Goats?

There are a few key categories based on components found in plants and the impacts they have on goats.

Key Components:

  • Alkaloid:

    • Disrupts the digestive system and causes muscle spasms which often leads to convulsions.

  • Cyanogenic:

    • Contains cyanide, which prevents blood from carrying oxygen. Symptoms can include labored breathing, irregular pulse, and tremors.

  • Photosensitizing:

    • Prevents cells from repairing themselves from exposure to UV light (including the sun). Symptoms include swelling and redness, particularly on white areas of the body.

  • Saponins:

    • Disrupts the digestive system, causing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and increased heart rate.

  • Tannins:

    • The body reacts defensively to this compound, and it causes liver and kidney damage.

  • Other:

    • There are several other properties that can make a plant toxic to goats. These tend to be less deadly but can cause discomfort.

Can I Treat Plant Poisoning At Home?

In some cases yes!

Our Nigerian Dwarf Goat overindulged as we were switching from one type of goat feed to another and it caused bloat. Thankfully we had our essential supplies on hand including bloat medicine and we were able to quickly treat him and he made a full recovery.

Poisonous Buttercups to goats

Most Toxic Common Plants for Goats

1. Alfalfa

  • Goats can eat alfalfa in moderate quantities. But when they overindulge (often in the spring), they consume an excess of calcium, and it causes issues with their digestive system as their diet is no longer balanced.

  • It is important goats eat alfalfa in moderation or it can lead to a life threatening condition called bloat.

2. Buttercups

  • Most goats will not eat buttercups as they recognize them as toxic. When consumed, this flower disrupts the rumen and can cause diarrhea.

3. Cherry

  • Like many fruit trees, cherry leaves and fruit are toxic to goats. Other trees that can be toxic to goats include apricots, crabapples, nectarines, prunes, peaches, and even plums.

4. Clover

  • Goats can eat clover in moderate quantities. But when they overindulge, commonly in the spring after a long winter. Goats consume an excess of calcium, and it causes issues with their digestive system as their diet is no longer balanced similar to alfalfa.

  • It is important goats eat clover in moderation or it can lead to a life threatening condition called bloat.

5. Poppy

  • Due to the alkaloids in this plant, it is toxic to goats. Unfortunately, goats tend to be very fond of this poisonous plant, so it is especially important to ensure it is out of reach.

6. Elderberry

  • Throughout the entire plant elderberries contain alkaloid and cyanogenic properties. Making this a highly toxic plant for your herd.

7. Ground Ivy

  • Depending on the type of ivy, this can be toxic for your goats. The rule of thumb is that ground ivy and landscaping plants are generally toxic and best to avoid keeping your goats safe and healthy.

8. Milkweed

  • Known for causing digestive issues in ruminants (goats, cattle, sheep, and horses) this plant should be avoided.

9. Nightshade

  • There are many plants that fall under the nightshade category, but generally they are green berries or unripen fruit that can cause lack of appetite, diarrhea, labored breathing, and tremors. Luckily, goats rarely consume these plants.

10. Oaks

  • Typically poisoning from browsing near an oak tree has minimal side effects. But with continuous ingestion side effects can occur.

11. Rhododendron

  • Most common poisoning in goats as they often graze on this plant in the spring when other plants are not green yet. This plant disrupts the digestive system and causes vomiting and muscle issues (including the heart).

12. St. John's Wort

  • Known for causing damage to the liver and containing photosensitizing chemicals, this is a very dangerous plant if consumed by goats.

13. Wild Hydrangea

  • Goats should not ingest any part of a hydrangea plant as it contains cyanide and can be fatal.

100+ Toxic and Poisonous Plants for Goats

Here are over 100 of the most common plants that are toxic to goats, that can be found in a variety of climates. For a comprehensive list we recommend a list put together by Cornell.

  • Aconite

  • Allspice

  • Arrow Grass

  • Bag-pod

  • Baneberry

  • Black Locust

  • Black Snake Root

  • Bloodroot

  • Blue Cohosh

  • Boxwood

  • Broomcorn

  • Buckeye

  • Buckwheat

  • Buttercups

  • Celandine

  • Cherry

  • Choke Cherry

  • Clover

  • Cocklebur

  • Coffee Weed

  • Common Poppy

  • Corn Cockle

  • Crotalaria

  • Crow Poison

  • Crowfoot

  • Death Camas

  • Dicentra

  • Dogbane

  • Downy Broome Grass

  • Elderberry

  • False Hellebore

  • False Jessamine

  • Fume Wort

  • Goat Weed

  • Ground Ivy

  • Hellebore

  • Hemp

  • Horse Nettle

  • Indian Hemp

  • Indian Poke

  • Inkberry

  • Ivy

  • Jimson Weed

  • Johnson Grass

  • Kafir

  • Klamath Weed

  • Lantana

  • Larkspur

  • Laurel

  • Leucothoe

  • Lily of the Valley

  • Lobelia

  • Lupines

  • Maleberry

  • Marijuana

  • Milkweed

  • Milo

  • Monkshood

  • Moonseed

  • Mushrooms

  • Nightshade

  • Oaks

  • Oleander

  • Pine Trees

  • Pink Death Camas

  • Poison Hemlock

  • Poison Rye Grass

  • Poke Weed

  • Ponderosa Pine Needles

  • Poison Darnel

  • Purple Sesban

  • Rape

  • Rattlebox

  • Rattle Weed

  • Rhododendron

  • Rock Poppy

  • Sand Bur

  • Senecio

  • Seven Bark

  • Silver

  • Snake Berry

  • Sneezewood

  • Soapwort

  • Sorghum

  • Spider Lily

  • Spotted Cowbane

  • Spotted Water Hemlock

  • Spurge

  • Squirrel Tail Grass

  • St. John's Wort

  • Stagger Brush

  • Stagger Grass

  • Stagger Weed

  • Sudan Grass

  • Sweet Shrub

  • Thorn Apple

  • Velvet Grass

  • White Cohosh

  • White Snakeroot

  • Wild Black Cherry

  • Wild Hydrangea

  • Wild Parsnip

  • Wolfs-Bane

  • Yellow Jessamine

Final Thoughts

Whether you are considering using your goats to eat weeds and maintain your property, or you want to ensure their pasture has suitable vegetation, we hope these common plants have helped you.

If there are other plants that are common in your area that you would like to see covered, please let us know and we will be happy to cover them in more detail.

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