Goats are well-known for eating almost anything, and left to their own devices in a yard, they can quickly make short work of any foliage or flowers in their reach! Potatoes are easy to grow and inexpensive to buy, and many farmers or homesteaders have a large surplus supply of this root vegetable. It makes sense to feed some of this surplus to your goats, as potatoes are a healthy food source for humans. But can goats eat potatoes? Are potatoes safe for goats?

Yes, goats can eat potatoes occasionally, but they should not be given as a regular part of their diet. While potatoes are generally safe and non-toxic for goats, there are a few vital factors to consider.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of feeding potatoes to your goat, so you can decide for yourself.

goat divider The ideal diet for goats

Before we get into the specifics of potatoes, it will help to first look at the standard diet for goats. Goats have fairly complex digestive systems that require a large amount of fiber to function properly. In the wild, goats are expert foragers and feed mostly on fresh grass and the herbs and small shrubs that they can find.

In captivity, goats are typically fed on pasture, grass hay, and grain in varying amounts. Usually, grass hay should make up around half of a goat’s regular diet, with another 25% consisting of forage or pasture, 15–20% grains, and the rest in treats like fruits or vegetables. Goats are not meant to eat much grain, and their sensitive digestive systems have a hard time digesting it — for the most part. The same can be said for vegetables, including potatoes.

Grains can help ensure that a goat gets the nutrition that they need, especially protein, although it should not be the main part of their diet. Since goats have such sensitive digestive systems, vegetables and fruits should also be given only as occasional treats.

goat eating leaves
Image Credit: Volha Werasen, Shutterstock

Are potatoes good for goats?

Potatoes are known for their nutrient content and health benefits for humans, but do these benefits carry over to goats too? While goats may enjoy potatoes, are potatoes good from them? Potatoes are packed with healthy carbohydrates and can provide a great deal of energy to goats. They also contain vitamin C, a great antioxidant, as well as loads of potassium and phosphorus.

That said, goats need plenty of protein in their diet, of which potatoes are lacking. Goats are natural grazers and need a large amount of grass, hay, and pasture in their diet, with minimal vegetables and treats.

While potatoes may have small health benefits, they should never be a staple part of a goat’s diet and should only be fed in moderation. Potatoes are fine for goats occasionally and in small doses, but they don’t provide enough nutritional benefits to make them a staple in a goat’s diet.

Can potatoes harm goats?

While potatoes are non-toxic for goats and fine in moderation, too much can cause problems. Potatoes in high amounts can cause stomachache and digestion issues in goats, especially if they’re raw — potatoes should always be fed to goats cooked. The high starch content in raw potatoes can cause issues in the sensitive stomachs of goats, especially in nursing and baby goats.

Also, potato leaves and stems are toxic to both humans and goats because they contain steroidal alkaloids. There are two harmful glycoalkaloids in potato leaves and stems — solanine and chaconine — both of which be harmful in large amounts. Potatoes with green skin also contain chaconine, so you should never give green potatoes to your goat.

What should you avoid feeding goats?

While goats are known for their voracious appetites and potatoes are fine in moderation, there are foods that you should avoid giving to your goat altogether.

These include:
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Azaleas
  • Sugar
  • Wild cherries
  • Lilacs
  • Kale
  • Holly trees or bushes
potatoes on the ground
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Snacks and treats for goats

Just like most pets, goats love treats! Luckily, there are plenty of healthy treats that you can give your goat that are nutritionally beneficial and that they’ll love! Of course, these should still be given in moderation only.

These include:

goat divider Final Thoughts

Potatoes are non-toxic to goats and shouldn’t cause them any harm, provided that they are well cooked. While potatoes are a great source of healthy nutrients for humans, goats should already be getting these same nutrients from their normal diet, and the lack of protein and fiber in potatoes makes them less-than-ideal additions to a goat’s diet. The best diet for goats is hay and pasture, with occasional treats in the form of vegetables. Potatoes given in small amounts occasionally should be fine for goats, but they are not a necessary part of their diet.

Featured Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay