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Can Goats Eat Onions?

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Goats have gained a reputation as animals that will simply eat everything they can. Although it is true that they love to sample new foods, it doesn’t mean their digestive system can handle all the things they might try.

Today we’ll talk about things goats usually eat, foods you should avoid giving them as well as our main concern – can and should goats eat onions?

Goats and Onions

What Do Goats Usually Eat?

Goats are known for not being very picky when it comes to food. They are ruminants that simply love walking around browsing on plants they find along the way. They mostly consume different grasses, hay, weeds, shrubs, grain, or even tree bark.

However, the owner’s responsibility is to ensure the goats have a balanced diet with enough protein, minerals, and vitamins. The diet mostly depends on the breed, age, and size of the animal.

Still, the base ingredient of most farm animals’ diets is hay. It’s the most important source of valuable nutrients for the goat, especially if it doesn’t forage freely. If your goats do forage throughout the whole year, perhaps you won’t even need any hay.

Either way, there are five vital things every goat needs: protein, minerals, vitamins, water, and energy (carbs and fat).

Some signs that your goat has a balanced diet include higher reproductive success, a strong body, higher milk production, rapid growth, and normal manure.

Pay attention to the quality of the hay. On average, a goat needs up to 14% crude protein as well as 65% TDN to maintain a normal amount of microbes.

Even though hay is the base of the animal’s diet, it’s still not packed with all the minerals and vitamins they need, which is why you should back it up with some more food mixtures specifically intended for them.

With that in mind, another important part of their diet is grain. It’s something you can combine with hay to provide your goats with extra nutrients. There are also kitchen scraps – something your goat will certainly love as an occasional treat after the main meal.

What Is Onion Good For?

People all over the world have been using onions for medicinal and culinary purposes for thousands of years. Researches have shown onions are rich in antioxidants, which are important for removing free radicals that damage cells in our body.

They’re also a valuable source of different nutrients, including potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins B and C. As such, onion is also excellent for boosting your immune system.

Can And Should Goats Eat Onions?

Despite the benefits consuming onions brings, it is not recommended for goats to consume onions on a regular basis. 

Some might even claim that onions can be harmful to goats –  which is true if you feed them with onions in bigger doses. Onion is definitely not a usual part of their diet, but if your goat accidentally eats some of it, smaller amounts won’t cause any big issues.

However, onions could change the flavor of goat’s milk, which can potentially affect its babies. If you decide to feed your goats with onions, do it from time to time only, as an occasional treat and additional supplement. This vegetable can’t replace any of the basic foods your goats should consume.

Fresh and ripe onions in the market

What Foods Should Goats Not Eat?

Be careful when giving your goats kitchen scraps, because they probably can’t eat everything that’s in there. For instance, avoid giving them fish leavings and eggshells.

They probably won’t eat leftover meat scraps, but don’t offer it anyway. Goats should also stay away from citrus fruits since they can upset their rumen and cause digestion issues.

Because of their sensitive digestive tracts, they should also stay away from:

  • Avocado
  • Wild cherries
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Food specifically intended for pets such as dogs or cats
  • Kale
  • Holly trees and bushes
  • Nightshade vegetables
  • Azaleas
  • Milkweed
  • Yew
  • Garlic
  • Oleander
  • Maples
  • All parts of China berry trees

Some Final Words

Generally speaking, goats really love a wide variety of foods. They are explorers by nature which is why they enjoy walking around and browsing for different foods.

However, their main diet is rather simple; it consists of a good pasture or hay, combined with some grain specifically made and mixed for goats.

goat eating hay

Onion is a highly beneficial vegetable that brings valuable nutrients and boosts the immunity system. Still, that mostly applies to humans, and it’s not really recommended to feed your goats with it. If the goat eats some onion accidentally or you decide to feed it in smaller amounts, nothing will happen. On the other hand, bigger amounts are toxic to goats and could harm their overall health.

Onions can be an occasional treat, but they certainly don’t come as a replacement for any of the basic foods that make up their primary diet.