From what you have learned over time, you know that goats are herbivorous.
But sometimes, you just want to be extra sure before you go around giving them something new. In this case, you’ve got some apples, and you are wondering if it is right to feed them to your goats.
Can goats eat apples? Yes, they can. Goats love apples, and in turn, apples offer some health benefits to goats.
Of all the parts of an apple, they enjoy the skin the most. But this does not mean they cannot eat the other parts.
While apples may offer a few nutrients and yumminess to goats, they should not replace their regular diet. So, goats should only get controlled amounts of apples.
In line with ensuring your goat gets controlled amounts of apples, we explore the inclusion of apples to a goat’s diet in this post.
We’ll discuss the nutrients in apples, how many apples are enough, the dangers of giving too many apples, and much more.
Can Goats Eat Apples?
Yes, goats can eat apples.
If you offer apples to your goats, they might just eat every part of the apple – the skin, the flesh, and even the core.
While goats can eat apples, apples cannot replace hay, straw, and grass in their regular diet.
Apples give a few nutrients, and they are tasty too. But their sugar content will upset the digestive system of a goat if given too regularly.
So, you should only give apples as a snack or a treat. Also, you should only give them moderate amounts of apples.
Too many apples will overwhelm the fermentative bacteria in their gut, and this will leave the goats bloated.
When feeding apples to goats, cut them into small chunks. This makes it easy for the goats to chew and swallow.
You may notice that not all goats eat apples. For some, their unwillingness to eat apples is linked to their inability to open their mouths wide.
Since they cannot open their mouths wide, they will find it hard to bite or chew a whole apple.
Also, a goat’s dental pad is not designed to break a whole apple into smaller pieces, and some goats may avoid apples because of this.
For any of the reasons above, offering the goats smaller slices or chunks might make the goats more willing to eat apples.
In some cases, some goats are just not attracted to apples. Even if you offer them smaller chunks, they might not eat.
Can Goats Eat Apple Seeds?
Apple seeds contain amygdalin – a substance that produces cyanide when ingested.
Cyanide is a toxic substance, even for goats. However, nothing seems to happen when goats consume apple seeds. Why?
Well, goats have to consume a certain amount of hydrogen cyanide to experience its toxic effects. It is estimated that most animals have to consume up to 2mg/kg of hydrogen cyanide for them to die.
Goats can weigh anywhere between 20kg and 140 kg. Within this range, a goat will have to consume between 40 mg and 280 mg of hydrogen cyanide to be affected.
But apple seeds only produce around 0.6 mg of hydrogen cyanide per gram. In one apple, there are typically 5-8 seeds – equivalent to 3.5-5.6 grams.
In other words, the seeds in one apple can produce 2.1-3.36 grams of hydrogen cyanide – far below the toxicity threshold.
So, when eating apples in moderate amounts, a goat will not be able to eat enough seeds to cause any harm.
In essence, if you are feeding goats apples moderately as you should, apple seeds will cause no harm to them.
But just to be safe, it is better to get the seeds out.
Can Baby Goats Eat Apples?
Avoid giving apples to baby goats.
Before they reach 2-3 months old, their digestive system will still be primitive. At that stage, they are not ready to digest food items like apples.
They should only feed on their mother’s milk.
After they have lived for about 90 days, you may start adding apples to their diet.
However, this should be done gradually so their gut bacteria can adapt to fermenting the new addition.
Also, ensure the apples are sliced or cut into small pieces to aid chewing and prevent choking.
How Many Apples Are Enough For Goats?
As we already mentioned, you should only give goats moderate amounts of apples.
Giving them no more than an apple in one day should suffice.
Nutritional Facts of Apple and the Benefits to Goats
Apples might contain many nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
But only a few of these come in ample amounts.
The following are the most abundant nutrients in apples:
- Vitamin C
Carbohydrates are estimated to make up about 25% of an apple – way more than protein and fat.
In fact, water and carbohydrates are the most abundant substances in an apple. Of the 25% carbohydrates in apples, about 10% is sugar.
The main benefit of carbohydrates to goats is the provision of energy.
Besides carbohydrates, apples also offer about 4.4% of dietary fiber.
Of course, since goats are ruminant animals, dietary fiber will help with the digestive system.
Since goats produce their own vitamin C, what they get from apples may not be essential to them.
The prime role of potassium in a goat is to maintain fluid-electrolyte balance.
This balance is vital to ensure the proper progression of various physiological processes.
Goats get a lot of potassium from their forages. So, what they get from apples will just be an addition.
What Happens If You Feed Your Goat Too Many Apples?
If your goat eats too many apples, it will suffer goat bloat.
Eating too many apples at once will overload the rumen of a goat with soluble fibers. This, in turn, will overwhelm the microbes in the rumen since they are not used to such diet.
This overload will also shift the rumen’s pH, causing most of the normal microbes to die.
With those microbes dead, the harmful microbes multiply and try to ferment the apples.
The fermentation of apples by the harmful microbes will lead to the formation of foam and gas.
As the foam builds up, it will block the rumen and the esophagus of the goat. Consequently, the gas is trapped, and the goat’s abdomen becomes swollen.
If somehow your goat consumes too many apples and it suffers goat bloat, get it to a veterinarian.
Apples are safe for goats, and goats love eating them.
Notwithstanding, you should not give them too many apples – one per day is enough.
Apples are mostly made up of carbohydrates and water, so they cannot replace a goat’s regular diet.
Therefore, maintain moderation with the apples and only give them as treats.