Obviously, your goat needs a healthy diet of hay and forage. But it is nice to be able to give your goats treats. Treats help motivate them on the milking stand or if you are training them, as well as making them more affectionate.
Bananas are a quick and tasty snack but can goats eat them? Are bananas safe for goats? Luckily the answer is yes, goats can eat bananas. They can be a great treat to feed your goats in moderation.
Keep reading to learn how much is too much.
We’ll even introduce you to banana’s lesser known cousin which is even better for goats than bananas.
Can Your Goats Eat Bananas?
While bananas are a tropical fruit, their long shelf life makes them a staple in kitchens, even in regions where bananas don’t grow. I mean, really, who doesn’t have a couple of bananas sitting on their counter right now?
Plenty of new goat owners wonder if goats will love bananas as much as they do. And the answer is yes, goats love bananas. Luckily bananas are healthy for your goats as well. That being said, your goats can’t subsist on bananas alone.
Bananas can be fed as a treat to your goat, but because of their high sugar content, you should limit the number of bananas your goats eat. They shouldn’t eat more than one banana per day to avoid any health problems.
Goats really love bananas, so you will need to limit their access to bananas to ensure they don’t eat too many. If you live in a climate where bananas grow (like I do), you will find your goats will quickly eat all the bananas they can reach. So you may want to fence off your banana plants to keep your goats from destroying them.
Health Benefits of Bananas
As we mentioned, bananas are a healthy fruit. While they won’t provide your goat the balanced nutrition that the best hay will, bananas do provide many vitamins and minerals. So let’s take a look at what benefits bananas have.
High in Vitamins and Minerals
Bananas are a great source of vitamins and minerals. They contain numerous B vitamins and are high in vitamin C. They also have copper, potassium, and magnesium — minerals that are essential to your goat’s health.
High in Fiber
Another advantage bananas have is that they are high in fiber. A certain amount of fiber is necessary for proper digestion. Feeding your goats bananas rather than other snacks can help your goats feel more full.
What About Banana Peels?
Not only can goats eat bananas, but they can also eat banana peels. While not all goats actually like banana peels, my goats are happy to eat the whole fruit peel and all.
But feeding your goats banana peels can cause problems. It is essential you pay attention to the quality of your bananas if you plan on feeding your goats unpeeled fruit. When possible, choose organic fruit to avoid pesticide residue (1).
“…industrial banana farming is pesticide-intensive because bananas are grown in massive monocultures, without crop rotation.”
Pesticide residue lingers on the peels but doesn’t pass onto the unpeeled fruit. And since pesticides are essentially poison, it’s not healthy for your goats to eat them. If you are uncertain of the origin of your fruit and you plan on feeding your goats the peels, then you should thoroughly wash your bananas first.
Ways to Prepare Bananas
Every goat is different, and they all have different food preferences. As I mentioned, my goats eat my bananas straight from the tree, peel and all. But if your goats are pickier than mine, you can prepare your banana in a variety of ways.
The easiest way to prepare bananas is to simply peel the fruit and feed it to your goat whole. But the goat will eat the fruit very quickly and soon begin looking for more. To make the treats last longer, you can chop the bananas into small pieces and feed them one at a time.
Cutting bananas into smaller pieces helps prevent choking.
Another easy way to prepare your bananas is to mash them into a pulp. This pulp can be mixed into the regular feed.
Some people like to make their goats banana oatmeal cookies that are then fed as a snack. These usually involve oats, bananas, molasses, and bran. The great thing about these cookies is that they are as delicious for people as they are for goats.
Can Goats Eat Banana Leaves?
While most commercially grown bananas come from Central America, it is possible to grow bananas in your yard if you live in a warm climate. You will quickly discover that your goats love banana leaves, especially the young tender ones.
There is no problem with your goats eating banana leaves– they are perfectly safe for goats. However, your goats can damage or even kill your plants with their enthusiasm. You are better off only feeding your goats banana leaves that you have trimmed while maintaining your plants. These can either be fed whole or chopped into smaller pieces to make them easier to manage.
Even if you don’t have bananas growing in your yard, you may still be able to find banana leaves to feed your goats. These are often sold in specialty supermarkets. People use them to wrap food that will then be steamed or cooked inside the leaves, trapping in flavor and moisture.
Plantain — Banana’s Starchier Cousin
In areas where bananas are grown, people also grow plantains. If you aren’t familiar with plantains, you can think of them as banana’s larger, less sexy cousin. Like banana leaves, you can find plantains in specialty grocery stores.
Plantains come in three stages of ripeness — green, yellow and black. Green is the least ripe, and black is the ripest. Just like bananas, the riper they are, the sweeter they are. But even at their ripest, plantains aren’t as sweet as bananas.
Because of the lower sugar content, plantains can be an even better treat for your goats. In fact, in areas where plantains are super common, people are investigating using plantain peels as a substitute for corn in goat feed (2).
So if you happen to see what seems like extra big bananas on a shopping trip, you should consider buying some and feeding them to your goats.
Just like we love bananas, goats also love bananas. Luckily all parts of the banana plant are edible by goats. However, if you plan on feeding store bought bananas to your goats, you should look for fruit that has been grown organically to avoid pesticide residue on the peel. Otherwise, make sure you always peel your bananas first to keep your goats safe and healthy.
Also, keep an eye out for plantains in your produce section. While this starchy fruit doesn’t seem beautiful at first glance, the more you learn about it, the more attractive it becomes. You may find that your goats love these slightly less sweet banana cousins.
- Banana Cultivation Is Pesticide-Intensive. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/banana-cultivation-pesticide-intensive#:~:text=Peeled%20bananas%20are%20generally%20tainted,on%20plums%20(USDA%202012b).
- A note on the nutritive value of dry ripe plantain peels as a replacement of maize for goats. Retrieved from: http://www.jafs.com.pl/A-note-on-the-nutritive-value-of-dry-ripe-plantain-npeels-as-a-replacement-of-maize-for-goats,69196,0,2.html
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.