Is it Ok For Goats to Drink Saltwater?

Urban myths about the legendary digestive system of the humble goat have been circulating for well over a hundred years. Unfortunately for goats, these myths are exactly as it says on the cover: Myths. Still, every legend has a grain of truth to it, and goats may be able to bear some things that would surprise us humans.

Goats can technically drink salt water, but they need to be acclimated to it frst. While wild goats on desert islands have been known to drink water directly from the sea, domesticated goats will dehydrate and die before they drink salt water if they aren’t used to it.

Honestly, they might as well not be able to drink it. They hate it enough that trying to make them drink it could potentially seriously hurt them. But what is it about salt water that makes goats dislike it? And what is it about goats that makes them able to drink it?

Why Is Salt Water Poison?

For the vast majority of animals, salt warmer is extremely poisonous. This is because the body needs freshwater to process salt, and salt water already has salt in it, so instead of being able to use the water to process the salt already in its system, the animal ends up needing to use its reserves of fresh water to dilute the salt water so that it can urinate it out.

This is a big problem for most animals, and for seawater that isn’t even the end of the dangers. Seawater contains heavy metals like gold and mercury in trace amounts, but in a form that a lot of animals that aren’t built to deal with them struggle to process.

This only increases the attack of the sea water on the body, as now not only is it dehydrated but it also has an influx of deadly poisons.

Why Can Goats Drink Salt Water?

This is actually quite a contentious topic among goat scientists. There is no easily visible reason that goats should be able to drink salt water, since their kidneys don’t appear to be different from ours in any reasonable ways.

Some scientists believe that the salt water allows the goats to more easily excrete certain toxic chemicals. However, this doesn’t really explain why the goats are able to drink the seawater in the first place without dehydrating to death.

However, whether goats drink salt-water or not isn’t really debatable. You see, scientists and explorers have on multiple occasions observed islands on which there are no fresh water sources on which live colonies of up to thirty goats, drinking straight from the ocean and appearing to feel just fine.

When observed in the lab, these goats were able to survive for long periods of time off of seawater alone, something that is definitely evidence that they can in fact drink salt water.

Why Would You Give Your Goats Salt Water?

While you would probably never want to give seawater to your goats, if your goats are sick they may stop eating and need help to get their electrolytes back up.

In a pinch, salinized water may help with that. You may also not have easy access to enough fresh water to give all your goats enough to drink (because of a drought or something like that.)

Even if this is the case, however, goats do need to be acclimated to salt water before they’ll be comfortable enough drinking it to survive off of it.

Goats Are Extremely Picky Drinkers

Goats will usually only drink fresh water. If they aren’t used to a drink or don’t like it when they first drink it it’s not exactly uncommon for goats to avoid drinking it for long enough that they get sick from dehydration.

Why is this? Again, it’s actually pretty hard to tell. However, it’s likely that this kind of behavior is fairly useful for goats in the wild.

Since goats can drink pretty much any water they come across, having strong preferences is probably the only thing that keeps them from drinking something that could make them sick.

Whatever the reason for this is, the result is that if giving the chance between drinking something they don’t like and literally dying, goats will often choose death. That’s why it’s critical to make sure that if you need to give your goats salinated water to drink you ease them into it.

What To Give Your Goats Instead Of Salt Water

Fresh water is a good choice. Seriously, you need to make sure that your goats always have a supply of fresh water. If you don’t they will get sick from dehydration.

If you need to make sure a goat can keep their electrolytes up, there are actually two very common and very useful drinks that can do a fantastic job of that without you needing to salt their water supply.

Gatorade is entirely drinkable for goats, and its array of electrolytes can help sick goats recover a lot better than fresh water can.

Sports drink powder or kool-aid can also be put into a herd’s water source if they’re in an unfamiliar area and they need an incentive to drink. Goats love sugar as much as humans do, so it can definitely help keep them from dehydrating themselves.

There’s also a German home-remedy that can be extremely useful for goats that won’t eat: Beer! Goats can drink beer, and if they’re sick enough to go off of their feed beer can supply a lot of the same nutrients that they need to function properly.

Goats can also drink most human drinks, including soda. However, considering how bad soda is even for us, it’s probably not a good idea to give it to them except rarely as a treat.

Which salt water really can’t be used as. Really, don’t give your goats salt water if you can give them literally anything else. Just because goats can drink it doesn’t mean that they always should. In fact, trying to give it to them when they aren’t prepared could have disastrous consequences.

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