Tomatoes are delicious. We cook with them, eat them raw, and even use them in sauces. They are so versatile. Tomatoes are super healthy for us, but what about your goats?
Can goats eat tomatoes?
The simple answer is yes, but not in excess.
You can only feed ripened tomatoes to your goat. Never let them eat the stems, leaves, or even unripened tomatoes. These parts of the plant are toxic to goats and can cause gastrointestinal diseases. Likewise, too many ripe tomatoes have the same effect.
Be aware of the places your goats roam if you allow them to graze freely. Put sturdy, tall fences around your vegetable patches to stop them from jumping in to eat everything.
Goats love to eat, but like humans, they also have food preferences. Your goats may not like tomatoes at all.
What About Tomato Leaves, Stems, and Vines?
Tomatoes produce a toxic alkaloid called tomatine.
Believe it or not, tomatoes are from the same family as nightshade. Plants in this family produce an alkaloid called solanine, which is far more toxic than tomatine.
These toxins are a natural defense that protects them from being eaten. Tomatine is exceptionally concentrated in the green parts of the tomato plant, like the stems, leaves, and unripened tomatoes.
Fortunately, the leaves of tomato plants have hairy surfaces and a pungent smell. It’s a natural deterrent, but never underestimate the curiosity of a goat.
They are like little kids who need constant supervision because they’ll put anything in their mouths.
These toxins aren’t usually fatal, but it’s better to avoid the risk.
Not only that, your tomato crops will be destroyed if your goats eat the leaves and vines. It’s in the best interest of both plants and animals to keep them away from each other.
You may find that your goat got into your tomato patch and ate a small number of leaves, stems, or vines.
Monitor them, but also remember that it usually takes much larger doses to poison them. They should be okay. If you’re not sure, call a vet.
What Health Benefits Do Tomatoes Have for Goats?
Yes, tomatoes have high levels of toxic tomatine. They also have a lot of vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and folate.
These nutritious elements may boost the health of your goats. However, the real benefit lies in the water content.
Tomatoes are over 90% water, and that’s why goats can eat tomatoes in moderation. The water balances some of the toxins. It also works with fiber and helps ease constipation in goats.
Best and Worst Foods for Goats
You wouldn’t say tomatoes are the best for your goats because they can cause gastrointestinal issues, but they also aren’t the worst.
Let’s look at some of the best and worst foods for your goats.
A quick reminder that even though goats can eat everything on this list, anything in excess is bad for their health.
Monitor the intake of any food you give to your goats. They can even develop grain overload if fed too much grain.
- Broccoli (all parts)
- Plants from the nightshade family, except tomatoes in moderation
- Other animal products
Different Ways to Feed Goats Tomatoes
Goats either hate or love tomatoes. They won’t eat any of it if they decide they don’t like it. If they do like tomatoes, they’ll make them disappear like magic.
There are a few ways you can feed tomatoes to your goat. Avoid overfeeding your goat regardless of the treats you give them.
Here are some of the best ways for goats to eat tomatoes.
Goats love fresh tomatoes. You can feed them whole or slice them up. Either way, you’ll have them eating from the palm of your hand in no time.
Add a Little Salt
You can always add a little salt to enhance the flavors for your goat. Slice up the tomatoes, sprinkle a dash of salt and serve. Your goats will devour everything except the plate.
Mix in Their Meals
You can always whip up a delicious salad of hay, chaffhaye, grains, and tomatoes for your goats to munch on at dinner time.
Remember that moderation is crucial when it comes to goats eating tomatoes.
How to Prevent Goats From Eating Tomato Plants
Goats aren’t trustworthy creatures because they have outgoing characters and are happy to butt heads to get what they want.
Their mischievous streak means you must have a plan to prevent them from eating your tomato plants. Here’s the best way to do it.
- Install strong, tall fences around your vegetable patches.
- Use a greenhouse to grow your tomatoes.
- Inspect your goats grazing land to ensure there are no tomatoes for them to munch.
- Make sure that your land has other delicious plants to distract your goats from the tomatoes.
- Build a fenced area that’s dedicated to their grazing.
- Avoid growing your tomato plants near fences that your goats can easily reach through.
- If you’re serious about it, never introduce tomatoes into their diets, and don’t grow them if you have goats.
How to Tell if Goats Ate Something Poisonous
The first step is to monitor the health of your animals every day. Tomatoes aren’t the only plants that might harm your goats, so be sure to check what they eat.
It’s also important to check your plants. Counting the number of plants you have makes it easier to notice when any go missing. You will know if your goats get into your vegetable garden.
You may suspect your goat ate something poisonous. These are the common symptoms below. Call a vet if your goat has them.
- Foaming at the mouth
- Difficulty breathing
- Butt their heads a lot
- Poor vision
There are different ways to handle the situation if your goat eats something that’s making it sick. Call your vet, especially if your goats are struggling to breathe, are foaming at the mouth, or start having seizures.
What to Do if Your Goat Gets Poisoned
- Call the vet and wait for them to arrive.
- Remove all remaining pieces from the plant they ate. Try to keep some aside to show the vet if you aren’t sure what they ate.
- Keep the goat in a warm, shaded spot that is dry.
- Try to keep your goat moving as much as possible.
- Give your goat clean water and change the water every time your goat vomits.
- Lift the front legs to help with bloating and cramping.
Your goats will either hate tomatoes or love them. Goats can eat ripe tomatoes in moderation. Avoid giving them any other portion of the tomato plant.
Green or unripened tomatoes are also toxic for goats. You can mix tomatoes in with their dinner or give them to them as a snack.