Goats are popular thought to be animals that will eat just about anything. While it is true that they often have quite an appetite for their size, the reality is that they are far more discerning when it comes to food than most people realize.
Goats are surprisingly picky eaters, and some things that you’d suspect they like will elicit nothing more than a grunt before being ignored.
How about tomatoes? Can goats have tomatoes?
Yes, goats can eat ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and K as well as potassium and also contain lycopene, an antioxidant. However, all other parts of the tomato plant contain solanine, a poisonous compound that can be harmful to goats. This means that unripe tomatoes, as well as the leaves and stems, should be avoided.
That’s good news. So while tomatoes are perfectly safe for goats to eat in moderation, the other parts of the plant that can be dangerous.
Goats are usually pretty good about avoiding things they shouldn’t eat, but it is always best to keep an eye on them and prevent accidents.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding tomatoes to your goats.
Nutritional Profile of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K as well as potassium. But perhaps their most standout nutrient is lycopene, which they contain in abundance.
Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been shown to promote good health in numerous ways. Tomatoes are also mostly water, about 95% by weight, and are quite hydrating.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes for Goats
The lycopene in tomatoes has long been associated with good health in humans and animals. Some of these benefits include a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
Lycopene is also helps to protect cells from damage and possesses significant anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition to the lycopene, the vitamins A and C in tomatoes are also great for goats. Vitamin A is essential for good vision, and vitamin C helps to boost the immune system. Vitamin K is important for proper blood clotting.
Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium, which is an electrolyte that helps to regulate fluid balance in the body.
Potassium is also essential for proper muscle function and heart health. Lastly, tomatoes will help to keep goats hydrated since they are mostly water.
Can Goats Eat Tomatoes Raw?
Yes, goats can eat tomatoes raw so long as they are ripe. Unripe, green tomatoes are likely to contain solanine which can harm your goats. More on that in a minute.
Can Goats Eat Tomatoes Cooked?
Yes, goats can have cooked tomatoes, although cooking them is completely unnecessary prior to serving them.
Can Goats Eat Green Tomatoes?
No. Goats should never eat green tomatoes as they contain solanine, a poisonous compound that can harm your goats.
Note that certain heirloom tomatoes are green or mottled even when ripe, and these are an exception to the rule.
Can Goats Eat Tomato Vines?
No. The vines of tomatoes contain solanine, a poisonous compound that can harm your goats.
Can Goats Eat Tomato Leaves?
No, again. The leaves of the tomato plant also contain solanine, and eating even a handful may prove harmful to your herd.
Can Goats Eat Tomato Roots?
No. The roots of the tomato plant, like all its parts except the ripe fruit, contain solanine.
Signs of Solanine Poisoning in Goats
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family, including tomato plants.
Although it is naturally occurring, solanine accumulation can be increased by stress factors such as light exposure, mechanical damage, or herbicide spraying.
Solanine is biosynthesized from solasodine, and its toxicity stems from its ability to disrupt cell membranes and inhibit cholinesterase activity.
Symptoms of solanine poisoning include gastrointestinal distress, cramping, diarrhea, and headache. In severe cases, solanine poisoning can lead to paralysis, coma, and death.
However, it should be noted that solanine levels in tomatoes, the fruits, are too low to cause poisoning when ripe.
If your goats have eaten any part of the tomato plant other than the ripe fruit, keep a close eye out for signs of solanine poisoning.
These include intestinal distress, weakness, tremors, and difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.
Never Feed Tomatoes to Goats that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Humans use tomatoes for all kinds of dishes and in various condiments, and though they are a staple in many cuisines that does not mean your goats should partake of the same things we enjoy.
For example, never feed your goats tomatoes that have been prepared with sugar, salt, oils and the like.
These ingredients can be toxic to goats in high amounts and at the very least will cause weight gain and diarrhea.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Tomatoes
If you plan on feeding your goats tomatoes bought from the grocery store, you’ll need to be aware of the possibility of pesticide residue.
Tomatoes are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, and these chemicals can be harmful to your goats if ingested, particularly if fed over time where the chemicals can accumulate in the body.
The best way to avoid this problem is to buy organic tomatoes, or better yet, grow your own.
Otherwise, make sure you wash store-bought tomatoes thoroughly before feeding them to your goats.
How Often Can Goats Have Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are not a necessary part of your goats’ diet, but they can be a healthy and delicious treat. Just like with any other treat, however, moderation is key.
Too many tomatoes can cause gastrointestinal distress in your goats because they are so acidic, so it’s best to limit their intake.
A good rule of thumb is to limit treats to 10% or less of your goats’ daily diet. As always, if you have any concerns about feeding tomatoes to your goats, or if you notice any adverse effects after giving them this fruit, consult your veterinarian.
Preparing Tomatoes for Your Herd
When feeding tomatoes to goats, remember to only give them ripe fruit. You can feed them tomatoes whole, sliced, or in any other form that you like. There is no need to cook the tomatoes first.
As always, when introducing new foods to your goats, do so gradually to avoid upsetting their stomachs.
Start with just a few slices or a small amount of whole fruit and increase the amount over time as your goats get used to the new food.
It is worth noting that quite a few goats seem to dislike tomatoes, so if any members of your herd shy away from them, don’t worry. There is no need to force them to eat.
Can Baby Kids Have Tomatoes, Too?
Baby goats, or kids, can eat tomatoes as well. But you will want to wait until they are old enough to eat solid food before giving them any.
Kids are particularly vulnerable to getting diarrhea and other tummy troubles, so you should be cautious when it comes to introducing such a rich and novel food to them.
When they are first learning to eat solid foods, give them only a small amount of tomato at a time.
And as always, if you have any concerns about feeding your kids tomatoes, just hold off or consult your vet for guidance.
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.