Goats love to eat all sorts of plant matter, from grass and leaves to whole twigs and fruit. There is seemingly nothing that these adventurous herbivores won’t try.
However, on occasion they might try some things that they really shouldn’t. How about mushrooms? Mushrooms are a fungus, so not technically a plant. Can goats eat mushrooms?
Yes, goats can eat any mushroom that is safe for human consumption. Mushrooms are highly nutritious and have lots of vitamins and minerals. However, wild mushrooms are often poisonous, and eating them can easily lead to death. Only allow them to feed on mushrooms that have been verified as safe.
Goats enjoy mushrooms just like people do, and even better mushrooms are highly nutritious and can serve as a great supplement to their usual diet.
But be warned, feeding them an unknown mushroom or allowing them to eat wild mushrooms is a great way to make your goats severely sick or even kill them.
This is one thing you cannot afford to get wrong. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about feeding goats mushrooms.
Warning: Many Wild Mushrooms are Deadly Poisonous
First things first: Many wild mushrooms are dangerously toxic, even deadly, to goats. Worse yet, many such mushrooms look nearly identical to varieties that are completely safe and good to eat.
The stakes are high if you allow your goats to eat any wild-growing mushrooms, or if you gather mushrooms with the intention of serving them. Making even a single mistake might cost your goats their lives.
It is imperative that you positively ID any wild forged mushroom prior to serving it to your goats.
If you have any doubt whatsoever, do not feed a given mushroom to your goats, and instead stick with store-bought varieties for safety.
Never Feed or Allow Goats to Graze on Unknown Mushrooms
Sadly, accidental poisoning from wild-growing mushrooms is a leading cause of animal death, for livestock and pets alike.
Mushrooms spread and proliferate quickly, and can be difficult to control, meaning you’ll always have to be on the lookout for them in any place where your goats can reach.
It should go without saying, that you must never, ever allow your goats to eat any wild mushrooms that you have not positively identified and are certain of their characteristics.
Health Benefits of Mushrooms for Goats
Okay, with the scary warning out of the way, what can good mushrooms do for our goats? As it turns out they can do quite a lot!
Mushrooms have a great and well-rounded nutritional profile, containing carbohydrates and protein along with a good assortment of vitamins and minerals.
Considering the vitamins, mushrooms contain multiple B vitamins, including b1, lots of vitamins b2, B3, and b5, some b6, and even a little folate. They also contain trace amounts of vitamin D.
There’s much to celebrate concerning the mineral content of mushrooms, too. There’s a little bit of calcium, iron, and magnesium, a good amount of manganese, and plenty of phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
Notably, most mushrooms also contain a fair amount of selenium and a little bit of copper.
All together, these vitamins will improve cellular health, help the production of new DNA, strengthen teeth and bones, improve circulatory health, properly balance electrolyte levels and help get rid of harmful oxidizing agents in the body.
In short, mushrooms are an excellent and healthy addition to the diet of your goats!
Can Goats Eat Mushrooms Raw?
Yes, goats will eat raw mushrooms, although a fair number of goats don’t seem to like them very much.
Goats are still individuals, and while one goat in your herd might love raw mushrooms, another might turn their nose up.
However, if you can convince them to eat raw mushrooms they will derive maximum nutrition from them this way.
Can Goats Eat Mushrooms Cooked?
Yes, they can. Many goats seem to enjoy cooked mushrooms. Must be something about the texture and the aroma.
Cooking mushrooms will deplete their nutritional profile somewhat, but they’ll still be quite healthy and you shouldn’t hesitate to feed them to your herd.
Never Feed Mushrooms to Goats that Have Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
If you’re going to cook mushrooms, only give them to your goats if they are cooked plain, with no additional ingredients.
Although you might enjoy mushrooms cooked with butter, oil, salt, sugar or any number of other ingredients, none of these things are good for goats.
In the best-case scenario, all the extra calories from additional ingredients could cause your goats to gain weight or develop a sweet tooth.
But at worst, it could cause severe digestive system of trouble, diarrhea, vomiting or even inflame the intestines. That is definitely not good, and in severe cases can even prove to be fatal.
Your goats don’t need that kind of trouble. You’re going to cook mushrooms, you can roast them, lightly sear them in a pan or use some other gentle cooking method but they should only be cooked and served plain to your goats.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Mushrooms
You are well advised to purchase mushrooms from the grocery store if you’re going to serve them to your goats.
This will all but completely ensure that the mushrooms are safe and nutritious, and save you a ton of worry.
However, commercial mushrooms are often heavily treated with pesticides in an effort to keep them in good shape prior to them arriving in grocery stores.
These pesticide residues can prove harmful to goats and other animals if they are allowed to build up in tissues over time.
It might not hurt your goats at all immediately, but repeated ingestion can make for major health trouble, including cancer.
Therefore, make sure you thoroughly wash any store-bought mushrooms prior to serving them to your herd.
How Often Can Goats Have Mushrooms?
Goats can have mushrooms fairly regularly, but they shouldn’t be a mainstay of their diet.
Generally, goats should get 75% of their calorie intake from grass, hay, silage or goat feed, with the remaining 25% being made up of healthy, wholesome supplemental foods.
Mushrooms belong in that 25%, but since they are easy for goats to eat and nutritious, you can feel free to give them to your goats often.
Preparing Mushrooms for Your Herd
You shouldn’t have too much trouble preparing mushrooms for your herd. Small mushrooms can be given whole, stem and all, but larger and tougher mushrooms should be chopped up into bite-sized pieces to make it easier for goats to eat them, raw or cooked.
Can Baby Goats Have Mushrooms, Too?
Yes, baby goats may eat mushrooms safely, but with some reservations. Most importantly, you must know that kids are even more vulnerable to the effects of poisonous mushrooms than adults are.
Even a tiny bite of a toxic mushroom could be enough to snuff out a kid in short order.
Also, if you’re going to serve kids safe mushrooms as supplemental food, make sure they’re old enough to be eating solid food all the time.
If they are still on milk or eating a combination of solid food, some of the time, and mother’s milk and they aren’t quite old enough to be eating mushrooms.
What Should You Do if You Think Your Goat Has Eaten a Harmful Mushroom?
If you even suspect that one of your goats has eaten a potentially harmful mushroom, you must act urgently.
Poisonous mushrooms may contain toxic compounds that can kill quickly, and it sadly many owners find out too late just how serious the situation is.
It is possible for timely medical intervention to save the life of a goat that has eaten a poisonous mushroom, but they are likely to suffer debilitating effects for the rest of their lives, including organ and neurological damage.
If you think one of your goats has eaten a toxic mushroom, call your vet immediately and follow their instructions. They will probably want you to bring the goat in ASAP.
If you can positively identify the type of mushroom, they might administer an antidote; otherwise, they will use supporting care to treat the effects of the poison.
Whatever happens, don’t panic and act quickly; your poor goat will be counting on you as never before.
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.