We know that goats eat a lot of green stuff, but most of their usual diet consists of grass, hay, leaves, silage, and stuff like that.
Goats can and do eat vegetables, however, but their intake must be decidedly limited based on their nutritional requirements. But how about lettuce? That seems like something that would be right up their alley. Can goats eat lettuce?
Yes, goats may eat all kinds of lettuce safely and it is generally nutritious and healthy for them. However, lettuce should not be a significant portion of a goat’s diet, and is better off as an occasional treat or supplement.
So long as goats are not allowed to overeat, lettuce can provide extra minerals and vitamins to keep them happy and healthy.
It seems obvious that goats would like lettuce, and most of them do, but it isn’t the nutritional powerhouse for them that you might think at first glance.
Benefits of Lettuce for Goats
The nutritional payload of lettuce can vary greatly depending on the exact type. Considering butterhead lettuce, one of the most popular and most nutritious, there is a lot to like.
this lettuce contains abundant vitamin a, a good selection of the B vitamins including B1, B2, B5, B6, and folate, a little bit of vitamin C, trace amounts of vitamin E, and tons and tons of vitamin K.
The mineral profile is similarly well-rounded, with a good dose of calcium and magnesium complemented by some phosphorus and potassium. It has a little bit of zinc, but the two standout minerals are iron and manganese.
Also, most varieties of lettuce are 95% water by mass, meaning it is a great way for your goats to get some extra hydration as they chow down. This can be a great way to help them stave off the effects of heat stress during a hot spell.
Can Goats Eat Lettuce Raw?
Yes, goats can eat all kinds of lettuce raw and this is the very best way to serve it to them.
What Kinds of Lettuce Can Goats Eat?
Every kind of true lettuce that you can think of, goats can eat safely and will derive nutrition from. Iceberg, romaine, bib, butterhead, the list goes on but all of them are safe and wholesome.
One should keep in mind that certain varieties of lettuce, namely iceberg, have very little nutrition compared to other types concerning vitamins and minerals.
They’re still healthy, to be sure, but they won’t give your goats the boost of nutrition compared to other kinds.
This might be something to consider if you’re wanting to supplement the diet of your goats instead of just giving them a treat.
Can Goats Eat Lettuce Cooked?
Yes, goats may eat cooked lettuce but there is no reason to cook it before giving it to them.
Most notably, cooking rapidly destroys the nutritional profile of most types of lettuce, particularly concerning vitamins but also some minerals.
Additionally, cooked lettuce typically takes on a wilted and slimy texture that is probably going to be less than appealing for your herd.
Never Feed Lettuce to Goats that Made with Questionable Ingredients
But since we brought up cooking, I must mention that you should never, ever give lettuce to your goats that have been prepared with other, harmful ingredients that they shouldn’t have.
This could be things like extra salt, sugar, salad dressings, and the like. Although these toppings and ingredients might make lettuce more “tolerable” for us or even delicious, goats should not have them.
At best, highly caloric ingredients and toppings will promote weight gain in your goats. But at worst, it could lead to serious health issues including intestinal tract problems, salt poisoning, and more.
Only give plain lettuce to your goats, or lettuce mixed in with other wholesome things that they can eat safely. No exceptions!
Careful With Pesticide on Supermarket Lettuce
You must be aware of the possible presence of pesticides on a grocery store-bought lettuce.
All sorts of products in our modern era are heavily treated with pesticides throughout the growing cycle in an effort to ensure our fruits and veggies make it to market intact.
This is all well and good, but countless studies have shown that these pesticide residues can build up in the tissues of mammals, goats, and humans alike, and cause serious harm over time.
Reproductive problems, cancer, endocrine system issues, and more have all been linked to the presence of these pesticide chemicals in the body.
If you’re going to buy lettuce from the grocery store with the purpose of giving it to your goats, you are advised to purchase certified organic and pesticide-free varieties.
Your best bet is to grow it yourself, but barring that or if you cannot lay hands on any organic variety you should thoroughly wash any lettuce and discard the outer leaves before serving it to your herd.
How Often Can Goats Have Lettuce?
Goats can have lettuce periodically as a supplemental item to a complete and well-rounded diet of grass, hay, and other mainstays.
Generally, a goat should be subsisting on grass/hay/goat feed for 75% of its calorie intake, with the remaining 25% being made up of healthy, supplemental food items like fruits, vegetables, and occasional grains. Lettuce can be part of this 25%, but it shouldn’t be the entire portion.
Giving your goats a few servings of lettuce a few times a week is generally satisfactory.
Preparing Lettuce for Your Herd
There are two approaches for serving lettuce to your herd. In the case of lettuce which is a round head, you are advised to chop it into quarters or perhaps even smaller to make it easier for your goats to tear off individual leaves or pieces for chewing.
For lettuce that takes a shape of a stalk or heart, like romaine, you can simply give it to them as-is and they should be able to handle it fine.
Can Baby Goats Have Lettuce, Too?
Yes, baby goats can have lettuce periodically as a treat or to break up food boredom. Two things to keep in mind, though.
First, wait until they are old enough to eat solid food all the time. If they’re still drinking milk from mom, even part of the time, they aren’t old enough yet.
Second, you’re advised to chop up the lettuce into small, bite-sized pieces or hunks to make it easier for them to chew it and swallow it.
Baby goats are more vulnerable to choking, and even though there’s hardly anything that is easier to eat than lettuce, goats can’t open their mouths that wide and don’t chew their food very much in the first place.
Clean Up When Your Goats are Done with Lettuce
Last but not least, make it a point to clean up after your goats when they are done with the lettuce.
Lettuce will begin to wilt, then decay, and then rot when left out in the open, especially under the blazing sun after having been chewed on.
This moldy, nasty lettuce could make your goats sick if they come around later on and try another bite.
Just because they are goats doesn’t mean they can eat garbage, contrary to popular belief!
Also, rotting produce has a way of attracting pests, particularly rodents and insects. You want neither near your goats or infesting areas where they live and eat.
Clean up the scraps of lettuce and dispose of them properly once your goats have had their fill.
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.