Goats eat all sorts of plant matter. So long as it is a plant, or comes from a plant, chances are your goats can get some nutrition out of it. Of course, some exceptions do apply.
But how about seeds, specifically sunflower seeds? Can goats eat sunflower seeds?
Yes, goats may safely eat sunflower seeds, including the hulls. Sunflower seeds are highly nutritious and pack a tremendous amount of vitamins and minerals. However, sunflower seeds are also high in calories so you should only feed them to goats periodically and in a limited amount.
Sunflower seeds are a delicious snack enjoyed the world over, but chances are you have never thought about giving them to your goats for the same purpose.
Turns out you can, and goats can get a big boost of nutrition from them. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving sunflower seeds to your goats.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds for Goats
Chances are you have probably enjoyed sunflower seeds at a ball game or on a long road trip before. These salty, savory seeds are definitely delicious, but they are also extremely nutritious, including for your goats.
Sunflower seeds contain a tremendous amount of vitamins, including a massive amount of vitamin B1, B6, and vitamin e.
Other vitamins are still represented in abundance, however, including vitamins B2, B3, B5, folate and choline. Vitamin C is present but in a much smaller quantity.
However, the mineral content of sunflower seeds is similarly outstanding. Sunflower seeds contain tremendous amounts of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc with a little bit of calcium to round things out.
All together, these vital nutrients will improve every aspect of a goat’s health, from the circulatory system and skeleton to reproductive health and even the creation of new, healthy DNA.
However, as mentioned sunflower seeds are quite dense when it comes to calories and are mostly fat with nearly equal amounts of protein and carbohydrates.
They’re a great source of energy for hard-working goats, but it is easy to give goats too many, leading to weight gain.
Can Goats Eat Sunflower Seed Kernels?
Yes. The kernel or heart of a sunflower seed is the part that you and I eat, the inner part of the seed. Goats can eat this part and derive considerable nutrition from it.
Can Goats Eat Sunflower Seed Hulls?
Yes, they can. Your goats are entirely happy eating sunflower seeds whole, hull and all.
Can Goats Eat Sunflower Seeds Cooked?
Yes. Roasted sunflower seeds are just fine for your goats, although you should know that roasting reduces the nutritional profile of the seed somewhat, both vitamins and minerals.
Never Feed Sunflower Seeds to Goats that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
The elephant in the room concerning it feeding sunflower seeds to goats is the likely presence of added salt, seasonings, and other ingredients that goats just should not have.
You probably have your own favorite method of preparation for sunflower seeds; maybe it is extra salt, butter, barbecue seasoning, jalapeno spice, or something else.
Whatever you might like, it is bad for your goats. Sugars and other highly caloric ingredients will further promote weight gain in goats, which isn’t good, but other things like salt, oils, and so forth can cause serious problems. Problems like intestinal upset, inflammation of the stomach, sodium poisoning, and more.
You can give your goats sunflower seeds, you can even give them roasted sunflower seeds, but you shouldn’t give them any that have added salt or other ingredients. Plain only!
Beware of Pesticides on Wild Sunflowers
Goats, as it turns out, will happily eat every single part of a sunflower. And even better, they are all nutritious! That’s great for them, but not so good for you if you’re trying to raise sunflowers as a decorative plant.
However, all jokes aside you must be aware that sunflowers are regularly treated with pesticides to protect them from insects.
If you allow your goats to nibble on a sunflower or just eat sunflower seeds from a plant that has been treated with pesticides they will be ingesting harmful chemicals.
These chemicals are known to cause all sorts of havoc in the body, particularly as they build up over time with repeated ingestion.
Things like cancer, harm to reproductive systems, endocrine system issues, and more are all linked to these dangerous chemicals.
Unless you know for certain that a given sunflower or its seeds have not been treated with these pesticides, it’s best to keep your goats away from them.
How Often Can Goats Have Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are so nutritious you can be forgiven for wanting to give them to your goats all the time, or make them a feature in their regular food. This is a mistake.
First, as mentioned previously, sunflower seeds have a lot of calories and can easily promote weight gain in goats.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, sunflower seeds might be said to have too many vitamins and minerals.
Anything, even healthy things, can be harmful if you have too many of them and the same goes for goats.
The problem is that sunflower seeds are so small and so tasty, that goats will fill up on them if given half a chance.
Probably not the end of the world if they do this for one meal, one day, but repeated feedings over multiple days could lead to a dangerous build-up of vitamins or minerals that can cause all sorts of harm for your precious goats.
It’s not something you should worry about so long as you tightly control how many sunflower seeds your goats are allowed to eat. A small serving once or twice a week is more than sufficient for maximum benefit.
Preparing Sunflower Seeds for Your Herd
All you need to do to give sunflower seeds to your goats is hand them over. Your goats will happily eat them out of hand, off the ground, out of a bowl or trough or any other way you care to serve them.
And remember, goats will eat a whole sunflower seed with no problem; you don’t need to get them hulled seeds or take the time to do it yourself.
Can Baby Goats Have Sunflower Seeds, Too?
Yes, baby goats may have sunflower seeds also with the same reservations that you should exercise for adults.
Also, you should only give sunflower seeds to kids that are old enough to be eating solid food all the time.
Kids that are still drinking milk or ones that seem to shy away from solid food shouldn’t be tempted with sunflower seeds.
And keep in mind, that you should reduce the quantity even more if you’re giving sunflower seeds to kids. They need plenty of calories and nutrition because they are growing, but they also can’t handle as much as an adult.
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.