Can Goats Eat Milkweed? Answer To 5 Common Questions

Can You Feed Your Goats Milkweed?

eat milkweed

My friend and I were walking across the goat pasture the other day, looking for any new plants we hadn’t seen before.

Even though goats are tough, my pasture has a habit of sprouting strange and unusual flora that I’ve never seen before, so I like to keep an eye on what’s growing there that the goats might eat. Milkweed was a new one for us this time that we hadn’t seen before.

My friend pointed it out and inquired as to what it was; I informed him, and he inquired as if it was safe. I said I didn’t know, so I conducted some research. Is it true that goats can eat milkweed?

Goats are known to be poisonous to milkweed. Even though a substantial quantity would be required to cause serious harm, it is still best avoided because it offers little value when compared to other, safer staple foods. If there is enough food accessible to the goats, they will avoid it.

While it would take a lot more milkweed than your goat would ever eat the milkweed in one sitting to cause immediate injury, it’s always best to be cautious than sorry.

The trouble about milkweed is that it grows in huge amounts, as the name says, and a young goat who didn’t know any better may gorge itself.

Let’s take a closer look at this.

Is milkweed beneficial to goats?

So, let’s take a look at what might be good in milkweed, and then I’ll explain why you should feed them something else.

I want to highlight that milkweed is not nutritionally deficient. It has certain health benefits, at least in modest doses.

For one thing, your goats should ideally be getting a large portion of their diet from foraging throughout the productive months. This means they should have access to a pasture where they can forage for themselves. Milkweed sprouting on such a pasture could, you’d assume, be a new menu item for the goats to try, diversifying their diet. This would be true for any other plant that wasn’t harmful.

However, there isn’t much to talk about in terms of specific nutritional benefits. They’re stalky, fibrous vegetation, and a goat’s diet requires a lot of fibre.

However, there are a plethora of different fibre-rich foods available. There’s no practical benefit to feeding milkweed beyond that, and it has a good likelihood of causing harm

Is milkweed poisonous to goats?

Yes, it is, to put it simply. While a considerable amount would be required to cause any serious harm, the fact remains that milkweed is deadly to goats. You should not feed them milkweeds. A dangerous substance called cardiac glycosides can be found in every part of the plant, but especially in the stems. In large enough doses, they can cause cardiac arrest, as the name implies. 

So, while it would take a very big dose to cause serious injury, the chance exists. And, as I have stated, the only significant advantage would come from the plant’s little amount of fibre and the potential for fresh forage.

There are a plethora of other, safer ways to include such items in your goat’s diet. In any event, your goats will most likely ignore milkweed on their own. So, milkweed has the potential to be quite harmful to goats while also having the minimal potential to be beneficial. Even if consumed in tiny doses on a regular basis, it has the potential to produce long-term harm.

Don’t take a chance with your life!

Is it possible for goats to eat milkweed flowers?

Even though the blooms on a milkweed plant are modest, this is most likely one of the elements that will attract your goat to the flower.

Goats have rather a decent colour vision, which is why they are attracted to brightly coloured flowers. The blossoms, on the other hand, still contain those poisonous substances and should not be eaten by your goat. As I previously stated, they’d need to consume a massive amount of food—probably far more than any goat.

Nonetheless, I would suggest prudence at all times. As a result, goats cannot and should not consume milkweed blooms

Is it possible for goats to eat milkweed leaves?

The dangerous chemical is also present in the leaves, in higher amounts than in the bloom itself. The leaves are much larger than the blossom, which will appeal to a goat who is unfamiliar with the plant.

The leaves are no less deadly than any other component of the plant, and they most likely seem just as tempting, making them even more dangerous. Allowing your goats to consume milkweed leaves is a no-no.

Is it possible for goats to eat milkweed stalks?

The majority of the toxin in milkweed is found in its internal fluids, with the largest concentration found in the stalks. So, no, milkweed stalks should not be eaten by your goats. Given that the stalks are probably certainly the most fibrous and thus nutritionally dense component of the plant, feeding your goat’s milkweed is pointless.

The plant’s most nutritious component is also it’s most hazardous. So, in essence, your goats are not safe from any portion of the plant. So, the short answer is that milkweed should be avoided at all costs, and you should try to remove it from your goat’s pasture.

If it grows there, it will always be appealing to a hungry goat who eats more than is healthy for them. Even though it takes a very big amount to cause any serious harm, you should still be cautious. Don’t let your goats eat milkweed, and if you can, remove it from their pasture.


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