Most goat owners already know that the members of their herd will eat all sorts of plant matter, from grasses and hay to leaves and vegetables, fruits, and seemingly everything in between.
However, when it comes to more exotic offerings owners are justified in being cautious, even when it comes to items that we take for granted, like giving fruits to your goats.
Take bananas, for instance… Can goats eat bananas?
Yes, goats can eat bananas safely, including peels. Bananas have a fair share of micronutrients (particularly vitamins C and the B complex), but feed them sparingly because they are so sugary.
Excess sugar in a goat’s diet will lead to weight gain and can potentially cause other problems as well. Some goats also develop a sweet tooth and begin craving sugary foods!
So that’s a nice surprise, and you are bound to get a kick from watching your goats dig in on some fresh, ripe bananas.
But as you might imagine, there is more to know before you toss a bunch to them. Keep reading to learn what you need to know.
Benefits of Bananas for Goats
Bananas are definitely delicious, but happily, they are also quite nutritious as well, with an excellent vitamin and mineral profile that can give goats a good boost.
Bananas are abundant with B vitamins, including b1, b2, b3, B5, and particularly b6 along with a little bit of folate. They also have choline and a good amount of vitamin C.
The mineral profile is similarly well rounded, with magnesium, manganese, and potassium being bountiful along with a little bit of iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
The B vitamins in bananas are essential for proper metabolism, nervous system function, and healthy skin and coat.
Folate is used for DNA synthesis and repair, while choline is important for proper liver function. Vitamin C helps support the immune system and is also an important antioxidant.
The minerals in bananas are all essential for various bodily functions.
Magnesium is needed for energy production, manganese is a cofactor in several enzymes, potassium supports proper muscle function and iron is necessary for red blood cell production.
Phosphorus is important for bone and teeth health, and zinc further bolsters the immune system.
Bananas also contain a good amount of dietary fiber, which can be beneficial for goats since it helps keep them regular.
Lastly, bananas are about 75% water, so they can also help keep goats hydrated on hot days.
However, as mentioned above, bananas are quite sugary and can lead to weight gain and bloat in goats that eat too much or too often.
Can Goats Eat Bananas Raw?
Yes. Bananas are super soft and easy to eat, and your goats will have no problem chowing down on them raw.
Can Goats Eat Banana Peels?
Yes, they can, believe it or not. I myself have watched a neighbor’s goats gobble up the whole bananas peel and all on multiple occasions.
That being said, most goats will avoid them. The skins are rubbery and tough, though they are nutritious. If your goats want them, let them eat them. If not, you can discard the peels entirely.
Can Goats Eat Bananas Cooked?
Yes, though there is no great reason to feed cooked bananas to goats. Cooking will negatively impact their nutritional profile and bananas are already so soft they don’t need to be cooked in order to make them more palatable.
Never Feed Bananas to Goats that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking bananas, we must stop to talk about harmful ingredients and preparations that could affect your herd.
Never feed your goats bananas that have been prepared with harmful ingredients, such as salt, sugar, chocolate, breading, batter, oils, and other such things.
Fried bananas are out, and don’t even think about giving them some sugary dessert like a banana split.
While some owners think it is funny to give their goats these treats with all the toppings, it can actually be quite dangerous and potentially even fatal.
Excess sugar can cause substantial weight gain and digestive issues in goats, so it is best to just avoid it altogether.
If you are going to give your goats bananas, cooked or not, they should be wholesome and free of any harmful stuff they should not eat.
Bananas are a great treat for goats and they offer many health benefits but you don’t want to spoil that with sugary toppings or other bad ingredients.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Bananas
Like most produce, bananas that you buy from the grocery store are likely to be covered in pesticide residue. If you can, try to buy organic bananas or grow your own to avoid this issue.
Pesticide residue can be harmful to goats, so it is best to avoid it if possible. If you must feed them regular bananas, just be sure to wash them thoroughly first or discard the peel.
How Often Can Goats Have Bananas?
Bananas are generally healthy, but they are so sugary they should be counted strictly as “treats” for goat herds. They can be given a few times a week, but no more than that if you want to be cautious.
Preparing Bananas for Your Herd
It does not get much easier than preparing bananas for goats. You can simply wash them off and give them whole to your goats, peel them, or slice them up into smaller pieces if you like.
If feeding cooked bananas, be sure they are not prepared with any harmful ingredients as mentioned above.
Can Baby Goats Have Bananas, Too?
Yes, but you are advised to let them grow up a bit first. Baby goats, or kids, are very vulnerable to developing digestive issues and don’t need a ton of extra sugar in their usual diet.
While bananas can be a great treat for adult goats, it is best to wait until kids are at least 6 to 8 weeks old before feeding them any.
This will help ensure that their digestive system is developed enough to properly process the fruit. Generally, if your kids are reliably eating solid food all the time, they can have a little bit of banana as a treat.
Make Sure You Clean Up After Feeding Your Goats Bananas
This one should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If you are going to feed your goats bananas, make sure you clean up the peel and any other debris afterward.
Goats are notorious for being messy eaters, so there is bound to be a bit of a mess left behind after they snack on bananas.
They may well have mashed banana all over their snouts, too! Just be sure to sweep up or pick up any peel or banana bits so that pests are not attracted to your property, and maybe wipe off your goat’s mouths so they don’t stay sticky.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.