It is a scene that all long time goat owners know entirely too well. Left unsupervised, or after a lucky escape attempt, your beloved goats managed to Chow down on your prized ornamental flowers or shrubs.
All that work, care and effort wasted! It’s enough to make a person crazy.
But, it’s not so bad, because some flowers have defensive thorns that will surely keep goats and other curious animals at bay, right? Wait a minute, can goats actually eat roses?
Yes, goats can eat roses, and they will often eat them petals, leaves, stems and all! Thorns are not much of a deterrent for goats, and roses happen to be quite nutritious, with a good selection of vitamins and minerals that goats need.
This can make it challenging to keep free-roaming goats away from roses.
Well, color me surprised. My own roses have thorns that are so vicious I can’t get near them without heavy duty gloves, but it turns out many goats will happily eat them without a care in the world. It sounds hard to believe, but it is true.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding roses to goats.
Health Benefits of Roses for Goats
Comprehensive nutritional information concerning rose plants is tough to come by, but we know that they are good for goats.
They contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbohydrates and other nutrients that goats need.
And, not for nothing, many goats seem to like them just fine, happily munching on the petals, leaves and stems.
If you know goats, you know that they are in actuality fairly picky eaters, so if they are eating roses they must be good for them, or at least tasty.
Can Goats Eat Roses Raw?
Yes, goats will eat raw roses with absolutely no provocation. Concerning nutrition, this is the best way for goats to eat them as it ensures they will have maximum nutritional value.
Can Goats Eat Rose Petals?
Yes, they can. Rose petals are tasty and nutritious for goats, and one of the first things they will target on a rose bush when they are in season.
Can Goats Eat Rose Hips?
Yes. Rose hips actually happened to be the single most nutritious part of the plant, and are a great thing for goats to snack on. This assumes, of course, that they aren’t wiping out your prized cultivar!
Can Goats Eat Rose Leaves?
Yes. Goats love and eat leaves of all kinds, and rose leaves are no exception.
Can Goats Eat Rose Stems?
As hard as it is to believe, goats will eat rose stems, even intact ones that are bristling with vicious thorns.
Generally, so long as goats are able to chew them up, it can eat the stems and swallow them just fine.
Thorns Generally Won’t Stop Goats from Eating Them
This is worth expanding on. If you are growing roses on your property as ornamental plants, even if you were letting them grow a little wild with all their thorns coming in, you cannot count on those thorns to keep the bushes safe from hungry goats.
Goats will tear off the petals, eat the hips and then work right on down the stems and branches, chewing and swallowing the thorns as they go.
Most of the time, this doesn’t cause any problems for the goats and goats are well adapted at eating tough, chewy, woody plant matter like sticks, branches and bark.
However, in some cases goats that are allowed to dine on thorny plants to often can develop mouth problems, and occasionally you’ll notice that they might be choking because of them.
Always keep an eye on your goats if they are eating any thorny plant.
Can Goats Eat Roses Cooked?
Yes, although there is no good reason to cook rose petals or leaves before feeding them to your goats.
Also, cooking will reduce the nutritional profile of roses, all parts of the plant, including the minerals and vitamins.
Never Feed Roses to Goats that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking roses, it is worth mentioning that they are sometimes used in the preparation of desserts, particularly jellies, sauces and other delicate dishes.
Roses are healthy for goats, but these other dishes are not owing to their ingredients list, usually salt and massive amounts of sugar.
Goats don’t need that much sugar in their diet, and too much can easily cause them serious digestive upset or make them gain weight.
In severe cases, it might even lead to a harmful outbreak of gut bacteria which can then feed on the sugar and multiply out of control.
That can mean serious consequences for your goats, or even prove fatal. Your goats will enjoy roses just fine plain, as they are, whether they are cooked or not.
Beware of Pesticide and Herbicide on Unknown Roses
Another thing you must be cautious of concerning the feeding of roses to goats is the potential presence of pesticides or herbicides on any bushes not under your direct control.
Lots of people work hard to cultivate beautiful, attractive roses, and that means they want to protect them from insect predators and parasites.
Common pesticides used for the purpose can be harmful to goats if they ingest them.
On the other hand, thorny, tough rose bushes are nothing but a nuisance for some people and they might decide to bombard them with herbicides in an effort to kill off the plant without having to face down the thorns during mechanical removal.
In the same way, these herbicides are no good for goats.
Think twice and be diligent before allowing your goats to eat any roses that have not been under your direct control on your property.
This is especially true of roses procured from a florist, which might be treated with any number of things intended to preserve their appearance for as long as possible.
How Often Can Goats Have Roses?
Many goats enjoy eating roses, and they are generally wholesome and nutritious as harrowing as it is to watch goats eat them.
That being said, goats should not have roses all the time, and instead they should be a periodic treat or supplement to their usual diet.
Allowing your goats to snack on roses once or twice a week is generally adequate. As mentioned above, take care that your goats aren’t allowed to overindulge or encouraged to eat thorny plants.
Although there are more than capable of eating plants that people struggle to even handle, consuming too many can be problematic and may require veterinary intervention.
Preparing Roses for Your Herd
You don’t need to do much to prepare roses for your herd of goats. If they can access a bush that you’ll allow them to eat from, you can just let them go to town.
However, if you want to harvest the roses and prepare them for serving, you’re advised to chop up the stems into bite-sized chunks, taking care to remove the thorns out of an abundance of caution.
Can Baby Goats Have Roses, Too?
Yes, baby goats can have roses too but with a few prerequisites. Kids should not be eating solid foods until they grow up a little bit, and they definitely shouldn’t be eating supplemental foods until they are subsisting 100% of the time on their goat feed after weaning off of milk.
Next, you’ll want to be careful allowing kids to munch on roses. Their systems aren’t fully developed and they flat out or not as tough as adult goats, meaning thorns might prove troublesome.
Believe me, they will try to eat them when they see adults eating them.
The problem is that kids are more vulnerable to choking, and thanks to their smaller size and lower Mass serious thorns on Rose stems could be hazardous for them.
If in doubt, you can simply pinch off the blooms and break up the petals before feeding both them and the hips to baby goats.
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.