Poison ivy can ruin any outdoor activity. It’s something that most people (or animals, for that matter) want to avoid. When poison ivy gets out of control, you may wonder how to get rid of it safely. And if you have goats, you may have this question: can goats safely eat poison ivy?

The surprising answer is: yes, they can. Goats love to eat, and poison ivy is on the menu. Many farmers throughout the globe employ goats, for lack of a better word, to take care of poison ivy on their farms. Goats gobble it up; you may even consider it a delicacy in the goat world. But how is eating poison ivy possible without it hurting them? Let’s dive in and investigate why goats can safely eat poison ivy.

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Can Goats Get Sick From Eating Poison Ivy?

As we’ve already learned, they can safely eat poison ivy, but how is this possible? First, let’s start with the basics. Poison ivy contains a toxic, liquid substance called urushiol that resides in the sap. When humans are exposed to this sap, it causes allergic reactions, such as rashes, itching, and hives.

Luckily for goats, they don’t have this problem. It’s not exactly known how goats can safely eat this annoying plant, but some scientists speculate that goats have certain enzymes in their gut that protect their tummies from any ill side effects. It could also be that goats have evolved to withstand the poisonous plant because there wasn’t much of anything else for them to eat. Look at it as a type of immunity.

Another theory is that the rumen in goats’ gut bacteria breaks down the poison, which allows them to safely digest poison ivy. Whatever the reason, it’s good to know that goats can eat poison ivy without causing any harm, and they can get rid of it for you, so you don’t have to!

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Image Credit: Pixabay

Is It Safe To Consume Milk From Goats Eating Poison Ivy?

This is a legitimate question that many people have. Due to a California study on the subject, it is perfectly safe to drink goats’ milk after they’ve eaten poison ivy. Urushiol, the toxic substance, does not transfer to the milk.

Does Poison Ivy Grow Back After Goats Eat It?

Unfortunately, the root of poison ivy is not a favorite among goats, which allows the plant to grow back after they’ve eaten the leaves. Over time, however, the plant will die off because, without the leaves, the plant loses energy, resulting in the plant’s death. If you have patience, just give it time—eventually, the plant will be gone for good.

Can I Get Poison Ivy From My Goat?

If the goat was brushing around poison ivy plants and the toxic substance got on the fur, you can get it on your skin from contact. It’s best not to touch or handle your goats after an eating session, so it doesn’t get transferred to you. If you must handle your goats afterward, be sure to wear gloves and probably even long sleeves to cover up your skin.

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What If I Don’t Live on a Farm?

Even if you don’t have a farm, some species of goat may actually make a great pet, depending on where you live. Goats have evolved into tame animals, but keep in mind that having a pet goat will not be the same as having a cat or dog. They weren’t meant to be companion animals; however, they can still serve a great purpose (such as eating poison ivy).

There are many species of goats, and some are not suitable to live in your backyard. Local laws may also prohibit you from owning a goat if you live within city limits. If you are thinking about getting a pet goat, know that they can be high-maintenance and require attention. As a rule, they serve best on a farm in a herd.

Can Goats Eat All Poisonous Plants?

Even with their iron guts, certain plants are poisonous to goats and should be avoided. Cherry and milkweed should be avoided, as well as oleander, azaleas, rhododendrons, delphinium, lily-of-the-valley, and larkspur.

What Other Poisonous Plants Can Goats Safely Eat?

Poison oak and poison sumac, a woody shrub, are on the list of poisonous plants goats can eat. It’s wise to make sure exactly what kind of poisonous plant you have before letting your goats feast.

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Image Credit: Volha Werasen, Shutterstock

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If you have a poison ivy problem, now you know you can get a herd of goats to take care of this problem, especially if you own a farm. Instead of using a harmful chemical, goats can remove these pesky poisonous plants safely.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay