If you have goats, you already know that they are pretty enthusiastic, if surprisingly picky eaters. Sometimes your goats might pass on an item that they should like.
Other times, they show much interest in surprising foods. How about pumpkins? Can goats eat pumpkins?
Yes, goats can and will eat pumpkins. Pumpkins are packed with nutrition, both vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin B2, vitamin C, iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorous and zinc.
Goats might struggle to break open pumpkins, however, and larger chunks may be a choking hazard. Proper preparation can help goats safely enjoy this nutritious squash.
Most folks don’t associate pumpkins with a healthy option for feeding goats, but it sure is. Goats tend to love it once they can get at the tender flesh inside the tough skin.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about feeding pumpkin to goats.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Goats
Pumpkins are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals that are essential to good goat health.
Vitamin A is important for vision, bone growth, reproduction and cell division. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage.
Vitamin B2 helps the body convert food into energy and plays a role in metabolism.
Vitamin C is vital for tissue repair, healing wounds and forming scar tissue. It’s also an antioxidant.
Iron is necessary for making hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Manganese helps the body form bones and connective tissue.
Potassium aids in muscle contraction and heart function. It also helps the body regulate fluids.
Phosphorous is essential for bone and tooth development, as well as for cell growth. Zinc is involved in many aspects of goat health, including immunity, reproduction, growth and repair.
Pumpkins are also a good source of fiber, which can help goats stay regular and the moisture content can provide hydration on warm days. As an added bonus, the seeds are a good source of protein.
Can Goats Eat Pumpkin Raw?
Yes, and this is a fine way to serve it to them so long as you can prepare it for easy consumption.
Goats don’t really chew food that well, so they may have difficulty breaking down larger pieces of pumpkin. The skin can also be tough for them to digest.
Can Goats Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Yes. The seeds are completely safe, and also nutritious. Goats should gobble them up along with the flesh.
Can Goats Eat Pumpkin Cooked?
Yes, cooked pumpkin can make a fun and tasty treat for goats.
Never Feed Pumpkin to Goats that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
If you are planning on cooking pumpkin for your goats, or serving them some leftovers of your own, you must never serve them any that has been prepared with or as an ingredient in something that they cannot have.
For example, many people like to add sugar or spices to their pumpkin dishes. Pumpkin pie immediately comes to mind. However, these things are not safe for goats.
If you do cook pumpkin for your goats, make sure it is plain and unsweetened. Excess calories are not good for goats, and sugar can cause health problems in other ways.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Pumpkin
One more thing to be aware of if you are buying a pumpkin from the grocery store to feed to your goats – it’s likely to have been treated with pesticides.
Most commercial produce is treated from beginning to end with copious amounts of chemicals designed to keep bugs from destroying them.
Though nominally safe, plenty of evidence suggests that they can harm both people and animals over time.
These chemicals can build up in a goat’s system and potentially cause health problems. It’s best to either grow your own pumpkin or buy organic varieties to reduce or eliminate this concern.
If that’s not possible, be sure to wash the pumpkin well before serving it to your goats.
How Often Can Goats Have Pumpkin?
Pumpkin can be fed to goats periodically as a small part of their regular diet. Though healthy, and giving goats good nutrition, it should not be their main source of food.
They need hay, grass and other forage to stay healthy. Pumpkin can be used as a supplement to provide additional nutrients, or as an occasional treat.
Preparing Pumpkin for Your Herd
While pumpkins are safe for goats to eat, they can be a bit of a challenge for them to chew and swallow.
The thick skin and hard flesh can make it difficult for goats to get at the good stuff. If you have whole pumpkins, you’ll need to chop it into small pieces or even grate it, splitting it open into slices at the minimum.
Some people like to puree pumpkin and mix it with other foods, such as goat feed, to make it easier for goats to eat.
However, if you have larger goats, they might be able to break open the pumpkin themselves to get at the flesh and eat it that way. This is a good way to give them some entertainment as well as a treat.
Whatever method you choose, making pumpkin flesh and seeds accessible to your goats is the important part. If they can’t or won’t eat it, there’s no point in feeding it to them.
Can Baby Goats Have Pumpkin, Too?
Yes, but you’ll need to wait for them to get a bit older before you give them pumpkin. Baby goats, or kids, are born with delicate stomachs that need time to develop.
They also live on their mother’s milk for the first few weeks of life. For these reasons, it’s best to wait until they’re old enough that they start subsisting entirely on solid food.
Once they are that old, you can give them pumpkin just like any other goat. Start with small amounts and see how they do before giving them more.
Make Sure You Clean Up any Leftover Pumpkin Bits
Pumpkin, as you might be thinking is quite messy. If you are giving your goats pumpkin as a treat, they will likely make quite a mess of things.
It’s important to clean up any leftovers to avoid attracting pests or coming back around to nibble on after it starts to spoil and rot.
Pumpkins can easily harbor mold, which can be harmful to goats. So, if you do have leftover pumpkin bits after feeding time, be sure to clean up and dispose of it.
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.