Goats like eating all kinds of greenery, from hay and grass to leaves and even twigs off of trees.
Lots of new owners get surprised when they see their goats stripping the bark, leaves, and branches right off of trees that they can reach.
Believe it or not, such material actually makes up an important part of a goat’s diet. How about maple leaves? Can goats eat maple leaves?
Yes, goats may eat maple leaves but only in moderation, and preferably only live or freshly fallen leaves. If you allow goats to eat too many dead, wilted maple leaves they could have stomach problems, including diarrhea.
No surprise there, as anyone who has owned goats and had nearby maple trees will attest.
Goats seem particularly attracted to maple Leaves, and while they can eat them you should not allow them to eat too many.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding maple leaves to goats.
Health Benefits of Maple Leaves for Goats
It is difficult to source reliable nutritional data for maple leaves at various stages of life, but we can make some solid assumptions based on what goats need out of their usual diet.
Leaves will contain some vitamins and minerals, along with plenty of fiber and carbohydrates. If goats need a snack or just get bored, you might see them chowing down on maple leaves if they can reach them.
Like most plants, maple leaves have a better nutritional profile when they are live and fresh compared to when they are wilted and dehydrated.
Your goats will get the best possible nutrition if they eat live leaves right off the tree, and minimal nutrition if they eat dead, crunchy leaves off the ground.
Caution: Excess Maple Leaf Consumption Can Lead to Stomach Problems
So maple leaves are safely edible for your goats, and they even have a little bit of nutrition for them in the barn, but that being said you don’t want to let goats eat too many, live or dead.
Overconsumption of maple leaves, particularly dead leaves on the ground, has been linked with digestive upset in goats, usually in the form of diarrhea and general malaise.
That might not sound like that big of a deal, but diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration and dehydration will easily kill a goat.
A good rule of thumb is that you should only let your goats munch on maple leaves periodically throughout the day, and generally no more than two days in a row.
It takes a lot of maple leaves to cause problems, but if you invest just a little bit of caution you won’t have to worry about it.
Can Goats Eat Maple Leaves Raw?
Yes, goats may eat raw maple leaves with no issues, and this is the best way for goats to consume them so that they may get maximum nutrition out of them.
Can Goats Eat Live Maple Leaves?
Yes, they can. Live maple leaves are the very best option for goats, having the most nutrition, generally the best taste, and posing the lowest risk of causing stomach problems in goats.
Of course, whether or not you want them to eat the leaves right off of your maple trees is another question!
Can Goats Eat Fallen Maple Leaves?
Yes, and they will. Freshly fallen maple leaves are nearly as good as live ones for goats, and goats have even shown that they will eat crunchy dead leaves under certain circumstances.
Keep in mind, as was mentioned too many dead maple leaves can easily cause digestive problems in goats, so you shouldn’t let them graze on them day in and day out.
Can Goats Eat Maple Leaves Cooked?
Goats can eat cooked maple leaves, but there’s absolutely no reason to go through the trouble of cooking them.
Cooking will pretty much destroy what scant nutrition is in the leaves, and the goats are happy enough eating them raw in any form.
Beware of Pesticides and Herbicides on Unknown Maple Trees
One more thing you should keep in mind if you’re going to allow your goats to eat maple leaves is the possible presence of pesticides or herbicides on the leaves or elsewhere on the tree itself.
Folks who grow ornamental maple trees may treat them with various pesticides in an effort to protect them from insect pests. If ingested, these pesticides can cause long-term health problems in goats.
Similarly, herbicides might be used on certain maple trees in an effort to either kill off the tree itself or to knock out a parasitic infection by another plant. As with pesticides, these herbicide chemicals are bad news for goats.
If the maple tree in question has not been under your control, think twice before letting your goats eat the leaves from it, or any other part of the tree, unless you have some assurances that it is not contaminated.
How Often Can Goats Have Maple Leaves?
Goats can have their fill of maple leaves intermittently. If they graze a little bit each day for a few days in a row there is nothing to worry about.
However, they should not be eating maple leaves every day and they definitely shouldn’t be filling up on them for multiple meals in a row. That is where the trouble usually starts.
Also, maple leaves are hardly complete when it comes to nutrition for goats. At best, they are an interesting snack or a tertiary supplemental food for your goats. There is no way they can subsist on them.
Preparing Maple Leaves for Your Herd
You don’t need to do a thing to prepare maple leaves for serving to your goats. They will eat live leaves right off the tree if they can reach them, or happily eat them off the ground.
You will, though, need to keep an eye on your goats and intervene before you allow them to overeat.
A good way to prevent this is to make sure your goats have nourishing meals earlier in the day before you give them access to maple leaves. This makes it less likely that they will gorge and fill up on them.
Can Baby Goats Have Maple Leaves, Too?
Yes, baby goats can have maple leaves, but only if they are old enough to be eating solid food at all times, and even then only in limited quantities.
Adolescent goats, for kids, can have anything that adult goats can have but keep in mind that they have more stringent nutritional requirements since their bodies are growing rapidly.
If they fill up on maple leaves, they might miss out on a meal that has the nutrition that they definitely need.
Additionally, kids are going to be more vulnerable to any digestive upset like diarrhea that could be caused by eating too many maple leaves.
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.