Most animal owners know that nuts are one food that you need to be really careful with when it comes to feeding it to your furry friends. Some nuts are safe to eat, while others can cause serious health problems.
Most people, luckily can eat nuts but even then nut allergies are among the most common food sensitivities in the world.
How about goats? Goats are renowned for their big appetites and can seemingly eat almost anything. So, can goats eat nuts?
Yes, goats can eat most common nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts) safely with the exception of walnuts which can be toxic to them. Given in strictly limited quantities, your goats will benefit from their vitamins, minerals, protein, and fats.
Nuts definitely have a place in the diet of your goats (with the exception of walnuts), but you’ll need to be cautious as they can easily cause goats to fill up and miss out on the food they need, or even gain weight.
You don’t want to deal with fat goats, do you? I didn’t think so. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about feeding nuts to your goats.
Health Benefits of Nuts for Goats
Pretty much all common nuts make for a great, healthy supplement or snack for goats. Most have a good selection of B vitamins, usually B1, B2, B3, B5, and a lot of B6.
Most nuts also contain a good amount of folate which is necessary for the production of healthy DNA.
The mineral content of nuts is also noteworthy, with calcium, iron, and magnesium being present in abundance, lots of manganese and phosphorus plenty of zinc, and a little bit of potassium to round things out.
Also noteworthy is the protein and fat content of nuts which can provide long-lasting energy to goats and also give them the materials they need to heal and grow.
The carbohydrates present in nuts can give them a quick boost when they are hungry.
Perhaps the only downside of nuts is that they are highly calorie dense, and the fact that most goats love them so much.
It is easy for goats to overeat on nuts and gain weight or get an upset stomach, but other than that, these are a great option for rounding out the diet of your herd.
Can Goats Eat Nuts Raw?
Yes, goats can and will eat raw nuts, although in the case of some nuts with very tough shells, you might need to shell them in order to make them appealing to them.
Can Goats Eat Walnuts?
Notably, goats should not eat walnuts and most goats will instinctively avoid them and not just for their rock-hard shell.
Walnuts have a propensity to host mycotoxic fungi which can be very dangerous for goats, but even if this isn’t the case walnuts contain various toxic compounds which can be very harmful if eaten in quantity.
One or two walnuts are probably not harmful for your goats, but I recommend you don’t take the chance at all, or worse, develop a preference for walnuts in your herd.
Can Goats Eat Almonds?
Yes, goats can eat almonds safely, and these are among the best nuts to give them. Crunchy but still easy to chew and highly nutritious, this combined with their low cost makes almonds a great option.
Can Goats Eat Pistachios?
Yes, goats may eat pistachio nuts and will often eat these tasty green nuts shell and all. Another highly nutritious option, though the benefits are offset somewhat by their high cost.
Can Goats Eat Cashews?
Yes they can. Cashews are one of the more popular nuts sold for snacking around North America, and your goats will enjoy them.
Can Goats Eat Hazelnuts?
They sure can. Hazelnuts are among the most delicious nuts and also have an excellent nutritional profile, making them a prime if spendy option for feeding your goats.
Can Goats Eat Peanuts?
Yes, goats can eat peanuts. Peanuts are not a true nut, but rather a legume, but never mind that. Peanuts are among the favorite treats of goats, and many will eat them whole in the shell.
Can Goats Eat Nuts Cooked?
Yes, goats may eat boiled, roasted, or otherwise cooked nuts with no problems.
Never Feed Nuts to Goats that Have Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking nuts, now’s a good time to bring up the point that you should never give your goats nuts that have been prepared with any harmful ingredients they cannot have, or used as an ingredient in a food that they shouldn’t eat.
The chief perpetrator when considering nuts is salt, sugar, and other seasonings. While this will make nuts absolutely delicious for people, goats don’t need any of these things in their diet.
Sugar can lead to weight gain or bacterial outbreaks in the intestines whereas salt will raise blood pressure and could potentially cause really nasty conditions like sodium poisoning.
Then you have the various seasoning mixtures that are commonly found on snacking nuts. Whether they are real or natural, they are bad for goats.
Also, just because nuts are a healthy option for goats to snack on that doesn’t mean they can snack on something unhealthy with nuts in it. Cakes, pies, candies, and so forth are never okay for goats.
Any nuts you’re going to give to your goats, cooked or not, should be plain and preferably unsalted.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Nuts
If you’re buying nuts from the grocery store with the intention of giving them to your goats, you need to be aware that they’ve probably been heavily treated with pesticides prior to purchase.
Although we have assurances from various government agencies that these pesticides are safe for humans and animals, the reality is quite the opposite.
Pesticides have a way of building up in tissues and causing devastating health issues down the line, everything from cancer and reproductive harm to endocrine system problems and nervous system damage. Not good!
Now, luckily most nuts have a protective shell that is removed prior to eating the nut itself, hopefully shedding much of the pesticide residue with it.
However, you are still advised to seek out and purchase pesticide-free organic varieties whenever possible.
How Often Can Goats Have Nuts?
Nuts are a healthy supplemental food or snack for goats, but they shouldn’t make up any part of their primary diet.
Goats should be living mostly on grass, silage, hay, and other fresh greenery for at least 75% of their calorie intake.
But, for the remaining 25% of their calories, you can mix it up a little bit with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and, yes, nuts.
Keep in mind though that compared to produce nuts have a lot of calories, so you want to strictly limit the quantity that you give them at any one time, and only give them nuts once or perhaps twice a week.
Preparing Nuts for Your Herd
Preparing nuts for giving to goats is mostly a matter of getting a given nut ready to eat.
Nuts with thinner, softer shells like pistachios and peanuts are given to goats whole, whereas nuts with hard, dense shells are likely to deter goats or even pose a choking hazard.
in any case, once the nut is ready for serving to your goats you can either scatter them around or place a few in a bowl, tray, or other feeder and allow them to munch on them.
Can Baby Goats Have Nuts, Too?
Yes, baby goats may safely have nuts once they grow up a little bit, but you’ll need to be careful.
First things first, baby goats should only be offered nuts when they are old enough to be eating solid food all the time.
If they still periodically reject solid food or they are still living on mom’s milk, you shouldn’t offer them any nuts.
Second, keep in mind that kids are growing quickly and have pretty stringent nutritional requirements.
Nuts are definitely healthy, but not nutritionally complete, and if you let a kid fill up on nuts they’re going to miss out on other foods they do need and will probably get an upset stomach to boot.
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.