People say, “An apple day keeps the doctor away.” While this bit of wisdom applies to humans, you may be wondering if the same is true for goats. Can goats eat apples? Is it safe?
The short answer is yes — goats can eat apples. But you can’t just pick an apple from a tree and feed it whole to your goat. They must be prepared properly to be safe for your goats.
Luckily for you, we’ll share everything you need to know about apples and goats. We’ll cover it all — from the seeds to leaves, and explain what you need to know to keep your goats safe.
Can Goats Eat Apples?
Goats love apples. But just because goats love something doesn’t mean it is healthy for them to eat it. (I mean, I love french fries, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy for me, right?) Luckily for your goats, apples are a safe and healthy snack for them.
Apples are a great source of vitamins and fiber for your goats. But they should only be fed to your goats as a snack, not as a primary source of food. Their primary food source should always be forage or the best hay for goats. Any fruits and vegetables you feed them should be restricted solely to snacks.
How Many Apples Can My Goat Eat?
An apple a day is a good rule of thumb for how many a goat should eat. Apples, and other fruit, are high in sugar and fiber. While these are good for your goats in small quantities, too much can upset your goat’s rumen and cause bloat.
Goats are in many ways like children, and apples are like candy — they just can’t help themselves. So you shouldn’t allow your goats free access to apples. You run the risk they will gorge themselves, which can lead to serious health problems.
What Happens if my Goat Eats Too Many Apples
If your goats busted into the apple orchard or accidentally discovered the results of your apple picking adventure and gorged themselves, then they probably aren’t feeling so good. But an upset tummy in a goat from overeating can be much more severe than when your child overeats.
If your goat ate too many apples, you will want to watch for signs of bloat. Bloat in goats is a serious condition that can develop quickly. Left untreated, bloat can be life-threatening.
If your goat is suffering from bloat, its rumen will be distended on the upper left side. You may also notice that it stops eating and begins to show other signs of distress, such as bleating, grinding its teeth, salivating, walking awkwardly, and urinating often.
If your goat is experiencing any signs of bloat, you will want to relieve the pressure as quickly as possible.
The best way to avoid bloat is by preventative measures. In this case, that means not allowing your goats to gorge on apples. By limiting the availability, you control the risk to your goats.
Can Goats Eat Apple Seeds?
You were probably told as a kid not to eat apple seeds because they were poisonous. Well, the truth is, you would have to eat A LOT of apple seeds (like more than a hundred) to be poisoned by them.
But is the same true for goats?
Yes, it is. Apple seeds do contain a chemical called amygdalin that breaks down into hydrogen cyanide. But in teeny-tiny amounts. So, it’s really not anything you need to worry about in your goats. They also would have to eat an awful lot of apple seeds to suffer toxic effects.
But just to be safe, if you plan on feeding apples to your goats often, you may want to remove the seeds when you slice them.
Can Goats Eat Apple Leaves?
Yes, goats can eat apple leaves. They can actually eat the whole tree, leaf, bark, and branch. And they love it! Some people say they enjoy apple leaves more than the apples themselves.
So if you want to forage your goats on leaves in your orchard, go for it. They risk nothing munching away on the leaves. Just be careful if your trees are in fruit. Goats are much more at risk from the apples themselves. Your goats could be tempted to gorge on the whole apples, which can lead to choking or bloat.
How To Feed Apples to Your Goats
If left to their own devices, your goats may eat whole apples right off the tree, leaves, stem, seeds, and all. However, feeding whole apples to your goats isn’t advised. Goats can easily choke on the entire fruit. It is better to cut the fruit into slices to make it easier for your goats to chew.
You may not know it, but goats don’t have upper front teeth. This makes it difficult for them to take just a bite of an apple. Instead, they will try and consume the entire fruit. The fruit can get lodged in their throat, causing them to suffocate.
By slicing up your apples into small bites, you minimize the risk that your goat will choke.
You can feed your goats the apple slice by slice. That helps prolong snack time and prevent your goats from gorging themselves on their sweet treats.
It is also always important to make sure you wash your apples before feeding them to your goats. According to the Environmental Working Group, apples have one of the highest rates of pesticide residues (1).
“Apples are generally near the top of EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list because they contain an average of 4.4 pesticide residues, including some at high concentrations.”
Just like you don’t want to eat pesticides, you don’t want your goats to eat pesticides either. The same applies to rotten or moldy fruit as well. If you won’t eat it, don’t give it to your goats.
Finally, you can watch this video on how to feed goats with pieces of chopped apples!
We think apples make a delicious treat, and so do goats. Luckily for both of us, not only are apples delicious they are healthy for us all too. Apples are a great source of both vitamins and fiber, which goats need, just like people.
But in the same way we can’t live on apples alone, neither can goats. This tasty fruit is a great snack but should be fed as part of a healthy diet consisting of good forage and hay. If goats eat too many apples, it can affect their digestion and lead to bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition.
On the other hand, goats can happily much away on the rest of the tree without any concern. And they equally enjoy eating apple leaves. So if you find yourself pruning apple trees, feel free to give all the clippings to your goats. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!
- Apples Doused With Chemicals After Harvest. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/apples.php#:
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.