Goats are notoriously adventurous eaters, ready to try anything — including watermelon. But just because your goat wants to eat doesn’t mean it should. If you are wondering can goats eat watermelon, we are here to tell you YES! It is safe for your goats.
But there’s more to a watermelon plant than just the yummy red flesh we eat. Luckily goats can eat every part of the watermelon, from vine to rind and everything inside — even the seeds. But just because your goats can eat watermelon doesn’t mean you should just let them have it.
Keep reading to learn how much watermelon is safe for your goats and the dangers of pesticides.
Watermelon Flesh — A Tasty Summer Treat
I love eating ripe, juicy watermelon on a hot summer day. And your goats will love it too. So it’s a good thing that watermelon is perfectly safe for your goats to eat. This sweet, delicious fruit is packed full of water and vitamins, making it the perfect treat for your goats on sweltering summer days.
Of course, it doesn’t need to be summer for you to feed your goats watermelon. They will be happy to eat watermelon year-round. In fact, if you let them, they would probably be happy to eat nothing but watermelon for a while (my goats have a sweet tooth). But while watermelon flesh is safe to eat, it should be fed in moderation as a treat rather than a staple in their diet.
In order to maintain a healthy herd with a balanced diet, you should always provide good forage or the best hay for goats and access to clean water. You can feed your goats sweet fruits like watermelon as a snack, but too much sugar can disrupt your goats’ rumen (1). So make sure you use restraint when deciding how much watermelon your goats can eat — because they won’t!
Watermelon Rinds — An Unexpected Bonus Snack
So we all agree that the watermelon flesh is the yummiest part of the watermelon, right? So maybe you want to eat all that yummy watermelon yourself and not share it with your goats. But when you are done, you have all that watermelon rind left over. What can you do with it?
While we can eat watermelon rinds (I actually ferment mine into pickles sometimes), most people usually just throw them away. Well, you can stop throwing them out if you have goats. Goats absolutely can eat watermelon rinds.
In fact, since they don’t have all the sugar, the rinds are probably a bit healthier for your goats than the flesh. So don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to share the yummiest, sweetest part of the watermelon with your herd.
Watermelon rinds are high in potassium and fiber, two things that are good for goats.
Watermelon rinds are pretty tough to chew, so you want to cut them into smaller pieces to feed them to your goats. But make sure you don’t make them too small. You don’t want your goat to choke on a piece of rind. The other concern with rinds is their exposure to pesticides. Make sure you scrub the rinds well with soap and water to remove any residue on the outside of the fruit.
Watermelon Vines — Are They Safe?
If you are growing watermelons or know someone growing watermelons, you may be wondering if goats can eat watermelon vines. Luckily, the answer again is yes, your goats can safely eat watermelon vines. In fact, watermelon vines can be quite healthy for your goats in moderation.
But there are some things to consider before you let your goats loose in the watermelon patch. Often watermelons are sprayed with pesticides to ensure a good harvest. Chemical pesticides can be harmful to your goats (2).
“It may not come as a surprise that pesticides, some herbicides, and rodenticides can cause toxicosis in goats if ingested. If goats ingest plants that have been sprayed with certain herbicides, they can become ill or even die.”
If you are uncertain if the watermelon vines in question are free from any residue, then you should not feed them to your goats. On the other hand, if you grew a bunch of watermelons and want to let your goats eat the vines after you have harvested the fruit — go forth. Keep in mind that goats prefer to eat things that are several inches off the ground (which also helps prevent parasites). So you may need to chop your vines and feed them to your goats rather than simply letting them roam free in your watermelon patch.
How to Prepare Watermelon for Your Goats
While watermelon can be an excellent snack for your goats, you do need to do some prep work before feeding it to your goats. Whether you plan on feeding them the flesh or just the rind, you are going to have to chop and clean that watermelon before you put it in the feeding trough.
Make sure you cut the watermelon into small pieces or slices. They should be easy for your goats to chew. However, you don’t want to cut the pieces too small. If the pieces are really tiny, they can choke your goats. And no one wants that. You can also try freezing the watermelon first to make your goats’ treat extra special on hot days.
Besides chopping your watermelon, You also want to make sure you wash them thoroughly. As we mentioned, farmers often spray watermelon fields with pesticides and herbicides to improve yield. Ingesting these chemicals can make your goats sick. So make sure you use soap and water to scrub the outside of the watermelon thoroughly.
The last thing to do is make sure that your watermelon is fresh. You wouldn’t want to eat moldy and rotten fruit, nor do your goats. Only feed your goats watermelons that you would eat. If you wouldn’t eat it, toss it in the compost bin — not your goat pen!
Watermelons, flesh, rind, and vine all make great snacks for your goats. However, just like people, your goats shouldn’t eat too many sugary treats. So if you plan on feeding your goats watermelon flesh, make sure you do so as an occasional treat rather than the main course.
Rinds and vines are better for your goats than the fleshy interior of the watermelon, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are without concerns. Many watermelon farmers spray their crops with chemical herbicides and pesticides. This can leave residue on the rinds and vines. To keep your goats safe, make sure you wash the watermelon’s outer rind and only feed vines from a trusted source. Otherwise, your tasty treat could make your goats sick.
But as long as you use good sense, you should be able to feed your goats watermelon safely. And they will love it!
- Grain Overload in Goats. Retrieved from: https://news.okstate.edu/articles/communications/2020/grain-overload-in-goats.html
- Things That Are Toxic to Goats. Retrieved from: https://opensanctuary.org/things-that-are-toxic-to-goats/
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.