Is it Safe for Goats to Eat Chocolate

Goats are natural grazers, and will eat anything they want or even anything that is in their path. However, is chocolate something a goat should be allowed to eat?

Because of the known chemical compound theobromine, this can be extremely poisonous to goats. It’s not uncommon for goats to eat a small piece of chocolate if they find it, but excess amounts can be harmful on their digestive tract, and can also be deadly.

So what can a goat eat? It’s good to monitor a goats diet so that they are receiving the proper nutrients to be healthy, so here’s some more information that may be helpful.

What is Theobromine and Why is it Poisonous

Theobromine is a chemical compound found in chocolate, most tea plants, as well as kola nuts. Theobromine is a natural caffeine that is found in some naturally occurring plants. Chocolate is made from naturally derived coco nuts, which contains naturally occurring theobromine. However, dark chocolate has a lot more theobromine than either milk or white chocolate because there is more of the coco plant used. The reason for the 80% or 95% coco directions on the labels of chocolate is an indicator of how much theobromine can be in chocolate.

Depending on the weight and size of the goat is dependent on how poisonous the chocolate can be. Humans don’t have digestive tracts that are similar to an animal, which makes it easier for us to consume chocolate compared to animals. Caffeine isn’t a natural dietary need for humans or animals, but our bodies process it better than animals. When eating too much chocolate or drinking caffeinated drinks may cause someone to experience shakes. Animals die because they can’t necessarily shake things off and be okay. Chocolate isn’t necessarily heroine or cocaine, but it can be dangerous and should be avoided when it comes to goats, or any animal.

What is a Regular Diet for Goats

Most goats need to have wide open spaces, and most owners will choose a pasture that has lots of room and plenty of free range grass to help with snacking. The average goat needs around two to four pounds of hay a day. As stated, this can be free range, or can be purchased hay. Many goats prefer a schedule, if one is presented, and they will eat based on that schedule. If the schedule is not followed, then they will be bratty and bleat endlessly until fed.

An important element for a goat to eat is roughage. What roughage does is help to regulate the functionality of their rumen. What is rumen some of you may ask? The rumen in a goat is basically a fermentation stomach that helps to digest grasses and foods that aren’t easily digested by their regular digestive system. It is important to regulate the rumen of a goat, as that is where important vitamins such as B1 and B12 are synthesized. Goats aren’t always picky creatures, so they will eat whatever is given to them. Some goats are more picky, but regulating their diet isn’t too hard. The chewing of a goats cud is a great way of knowing if their rumen is functioning normally.

What Should Goats Eat

Feed is not a “one size fits all” for goats. Finding the right feed for your goat(s) helps to promote good gut health and keep them active. Your goat will often just enjoy oats, alfalfa, and barley, as that is a staple in their diet. Allowing the goat to roam free range not only provides a constant source of food, but also necessary nutrients in their diet. Goats don’t always have to be put on a schedule of feed to be able to receive the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and active. Depending on your breed of goat is whether it is necessary to put them on a schedule and provide them with a diet that keeps their digestive tract and rumen balanced.

Most goat owners will provide their goats with kitchen scraps, which isn’t a big deal. Egg shells should be avoided, as they can also cause blockages in their digestive tract. Goats are great compost animals, and will most likely eat whatever scraps are leftover. Of course, be considerate of how many “treats” you give them, as bread can be unhealthy if eaten often over an extended period of time.

A common question among new goat owners is whether sweeter feeds should be avoided for goats. The answer is yes, especially for male goats. The thing about sweet feed is that it can cause blockages in goats, and can ruin their digestive tract and disrupt their rumen. Even sweets such as fruit can disrupt the rumen, which can be deadly to goats. Goats aren’t normally picky creatures, and will eat whatever is in front of them. It can be both a positive as well as a downfall. As long as they’re diet is regularly checked and you don’t notice any major differences in their mood or energy, then don’t change their diet.

What Are the Best Feeds

More often than not your goat will be pasture fed, or given alfalfa and hay as a healthy treat or even additive to their diet. Occasionally, they will need feeds that provide extra dietary supplements to encourage vitamin intake, to gain weight, or other health purposes. However, there are things goats should not eat:

  • Crotalaria
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Milkweed
  • Wild cherries
  • Kale
  • Holly trees or bushes
  • Lilly of the valley
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Lilac

A goat’s diet can be easily controlled by the amount of alfalfa or hay that they eat. Whether they are gaining too much weight, not receiving enough vitamins, having trouble digesting the food they’re eating, it can all be controlled through what you, the farmer, gives them. About 90% of their diet consists of pasture grazing, and if anything else is needing to be added to their diet then supplements or feed can be introduced in order to help with hair, skin, weight, and other factors that pertain to their health.

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