Goats love diversity in their diets. So much so that they will eat foods that aren’t necessarily good for them. So it can be hard to know if the treats your goats are eating are actually healthy for them to eat.
Whether your goats just discovered the celery patch in your garden or you simply looking for a new treat, you may be wondering, can goats eat celery? Is it safe?
The short answer is yes, celery is safe for goats to eat — in moderation. However, if your goats gorge on too much celery, it can cause serious health problems.
So let’s talk about the risks and benefits of feeding celery to your goats.
Is Celery Safe For Goats to Eat?
Goats are browsers rather than grazers. That means they enjoy sampling many different foods rather than eating the same thing day in and day out. However, not everything your goats eat is good for them — which can be worrying for a goat owner.
If you have celery growing in your garden or hanging out in your fridge, you may be wondering if it is a safe snack to feed your goats. As we said, it is perfectly safe for your goats to eat a stalk or two of celery, but they shouldn’t gorge solely on celery. While celery in moderation can be a healthy treat for your goats, it should be fed as part of a balanced diet that includes forage or the best hay for goats.
Not all goats like celery, so don’t be surprised if your goats turn up their noses at those stalks the first time you try and feed it to them. But by nature, goats are curious creatures, and if you keep offering them celery, they will probably take a nibble. Just like people, different goats enjoy different foods, and you may find some goats like celery and others don’t.
Health Benefits of Celery
Celery often has a bad reputation when it comes to vegetables. Many people think celery has no nutritional value, and its only purpose is as diet food. But that’s far from the truth.
Despite what people may have told you, celery is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Celery contains Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as being high in folate and potassium (1). Your goats need these nutrients in their diets just like we do. Celery is also low in calories and sugar, making it a healthy way to feed your goats the nutrients they need.
How Much Celery Can My Goats Eat?
While celery has some vitamins and minerals your goats need, it does not provide a fully balanced diet. Goats need a certain amount of protein in their diets that celery just doesn’t have. So while celery is a healthy snack, they need good forage or hay as their primary food source.
You shouldn’t feed your goats more than a few stalks of celery a day. As we mentioned, some goats like celery while some goats don’t. If you leave celery freely available and have multiple goats, you should keep an eye out to make sure they are all eating the same amount of celery. You don’t want one to have one goat gorging on celery while the others don’t eat any.
If you do notice that a particular goat has developed an obsessive fondness for celery, then you may want to hand feed your celery to prevent health problems.
What Happens if My Goat Eats Too Much Celery?
While celery in small amounts is fine, eating too much celery can lead to certain health problems for your goats. First of all, excessive celery consumption can lead to stomach upset and bloating in your goats.
The other problem with celery is it contains a class of compounds called furocoumarins. Consuming too much of these compounds can lead to photosensitization in your goats.
Parsnips also contain furocoumarins, so you should also use care in feeding your goat parsnips.
If this happens, the top layers of light skinned goats become sensitive to the sun, like when we get a sunburn. You’ll see evidence of photosensitization on the areas of your goat without hair, like the lips, around the eyes, and their teats and udders.
One of the first ways you will know if your goats are experiencing photosensitization is that they will begin seeking shaded areas. You may also notice them itching, scratching, and rubbing on the affected areas. They may also develop blisters or skin ulcers, especially on their lips, teats, and udders (2).
It can take up to ten days for the symptoms to appear, so you may not immediately associate your goat’s health problem with celery. Luckily photosensitivity can be treated by removing the offending food (in this case, celery) from your goat’s diet.
How To Feed Your Goat Celery
Celery doesn’t need to be prepared in any special way before it is ready to be fed to your goat. While you can just break a stalk off the bunch, you should give your celery a wash before feeding it to your goats, just like you would if you were going to eat it. Washing the celery will help remove any pesticide residue that may be on your plant.
As we mentioned, goats love variety in their diet. So if you want to make your celery extra tempting to your goats, you can try cutting the stalks into different sizes. That will help keep your goats curiosity engaged.
Also, celery doesn’t need to be fed on its own. Mix celery up with other vegetables into a salad. The more variety you have, the more your goats are likely to enjoy their healthy snack.
If you are looking to add some variety to your goats’ diet, celery is an excellent choice. Despite what you may think, this vegetable has a number of vitamins and minerals that are essential to goats’ health. But as browsers, goats need variety in their diet, as well as protein. So while celery makes a great snack, it should never be your goat’s only food source.
While consuming small amounts of celery can be healthy for your goat, you do want to make sure your goat doesn’t gorge on it. If your goat ate the entire celery patch in your garden, you might want to keep an eye on it for a couple of weeks. Overconsumption of celery can lead to stomach upset and, more seriously, photosensitization.
Even if your goat appears to be doing fine after their celery binge, don’t be too overconfident. It can take up to 10 days for the symptoms to appear.
As long as you keep your goats from binge celery eating, they should be fine with this crunchy snack once and a while.
- Health Benefits of Celery. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-celery
- Photosensitzation in Goats. Retrieved from: https://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com/articles2/photosensitization.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.