If you have goats, you already know that they can be enthusiastic if picky eaters. They may turn their noses up at choice hay one minute only to happily chow down on tree bark the next.
It seems like there is no rhyme or reason to what they will or won’t eat sometimes! But some things seem to be perennial favorites on their menu. How about carrots? Can goats eat carrots?
Yes, goats can eat carrots. In fact, they are quite fond of them! Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for goats, and also a good source of fiber.
Carrots can be fed to goats fresh or cooked, but you want to make sure you feed them small carrots or ones that have been cut into pieces so they are easy for them to chew and swallow.
No surprises here. Goats are strictly herbivores, and carrots are one of the best and tastiest veggies around so it makes sense they would enjoy them.
However, as with all supplemental foods in a goat’s diet moderation is key. Too many carrots can give goats diarrhea or cause unwanted problems like bloat. Keep reading to get the full story on serving carrots to goats.
Health Benefits of Carrots for Goats
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for goats, including vitamin A, B vitamins, and vitamins C, E, and K.
Carrots are most famous for being a great source of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A once in the body.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, skin, and immune function in goats. Like humans, goats can benefit from vitamin C’s immunity-boosting properties.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help protect goats from cellular damage, while vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health. Carrots are also a good source of fiber, which is needed for digestive health in goats.
Meanwhile, potassium is an electrolyte that helps goats regulate their fluid levels. It is also necessary for proper muscle function.
Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth, while phosphorus is critical for cell growth and energy production.
Carrots also contain smaller amounts of other minerals, including iron, magnesium, selenium, and manganese, all of which are vital to good health in all sorts of ways.
Can Goats Eat Carrots Raw?
Yes, and this is probably the best way to feed them to goats. Raw carrots have maximal nutritional value and are easy enough for goats to chew and digest.
You can either give them whole baby carrots or cut up regular carrots into smaller pieces.
Can Goats Eat Carrot Tops?
Yes, and they will love them, along with getting a good boost of nutrition from them. Carrot tops are high in vitamin A, C, and potassium, as well as fiber. They can be fed to goats fresh or cooked.
Can Goats Eat Carrots Cooked?
Yes, and this can make them easier to eat for goats, though it comes at the cost of nutrition which will be degraded by high heat.
Goats don’t have capable front teeth and can have trouble chewing tough foods with their back teeth, so cooking might be just the thing to make carrots easy to eat for them.
Some Goats May Be Mildly Allergic to Carrots
Be advised, that some goats may show an allergic reaction to carrots. The most common symptoms are itchy, irritated lips, mouth, and tongue.
If you notice your goat having any of these symptoms after eating carrots, discontinue feeding them and contact your veterinarian.
While there have been no reports of overtly toxic effects from eating carrots, they can also cause issues with stones forming in the bladder and urinary tract that might entirely prevent urination. This is only likely if your goats are eating lots of carrots, however.
Never Feed Carrots to Goats that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the topic of cooking carrots for giving to goats, you should never give them carrots that have been prepared with harmful ingredients, such as salt, butter, sugar, oils, or spices.
These can all be harmful to goats in large amounts, and some like excessive salt can even be fatal.
Goats don’t need human food, and cannot eat many of the things and ingredients that we enjoy.
At best, high-calorie foods can cause weight gain, but at worst they might cause serious harm to your goats.
Only feed fresh, plain carrots to your goats if you decide to cook them. Carrots are a healthy cooked treat you can give your goats on occasion, just be sure to mind the ingredients if giving them leftovers and never deliberately prepare them with harmful ingredients. When in doubt, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Carrots
Another thing you’ll need to be aware of when serving carrots to goats is the possibility of pesticide residue on store-bought produce.
Pesticides are chemicals used to kill bugs and can be very harmful to goats if ingested in large enough quantities.
While there is no need to panic if your goats eat an occasional carrot that has some pesticide residue on it, you should avoid feeding them carrots that have been treated with heavy pesticides.
The best way to avoid giving your goats pesticide-laden carrots is to buy them in organic varieties or grow your own. This way you can be sure of what pesticides if any, were used on the carrots.
If you do buy carrots from the grocery store, wash them well before feeding them to your goats. The tops in particular are likely to retain quite a bit.
How Often Can Goats Have Carrots?
There is no set limit or schedule for feeding carrots to goats. They are definitely a healthy option and can make up a good fraction of their diet, but you don’t want them to overindulge.
A few small servings a day, a few days a week, is probably adequate and should not pose any risk of harm.
Preparing Carrots for Your Herd
You can feed carrots to your goats fresh or cooked at your discretion, but in any case you should keep the overall size of the pieces small so goats can easily chew and swallow them.
If you are feeding them raw carrots, you will want to make sure they are small enough for your goats to eat and easily chew with their back teeth.
It is also a good idea to introduce raw carrots gradually into a goat’s diet to avoid potential digestive problems.
Cooked carrots are much easier for goats to chew, and you can keep the pieces a little larger in that case so they remain firm for easy handling.
Can Baby Goats Have Carrots, Too?
Yes, but you will want to let kids get a bit older, older enough where they are regularly and easily handling solid food before you give them carrots for the first time.
You can give them very small, finely diced raw carrots or grated cooked carrots as a first treat.
If they handle that well, you can then slowly increase the size of the pieces as they get older and their teeth grow in more.
Always remember, kids are more sensitive to food than adults are, and also more prone to choke, so keep a close eye on them when feeding them carrots.
Make Sure You Clean Up After Giving Your Goats Carrots
Your goats will likely eat up every bit of the carrots you give them, but there may be a few scraps or less-than-choice bits lying around.
In that case, make sure you clean up after your goats to avoid attracting pests or tempting goats to later sample pieces that rot or get moldy.
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.