Goats have a reputation for being able to eat anything, but in reality, this simply isn’t true. Goats are ruminants and herbivores. As a ruminant, they have multiple stomach chambers in which they ferment their food rather than digest it. This means they are prone to producing excess gas, and if fed the wrong foods, they are at high risk for a condition called bloat, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Since goats eat a wide variety of plants, shrubs, fruits, and vegetables, you may be wondering if goats can eat tomatoes. The simple answer is, yes, goats can eat tomatoes. Tomatoes should be fed to goats as an occasional treat and as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, you must be careful not to let your goats eat the leaves of the plant, which are toxic.

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Can Kids (Baby Goats) Eat Tomatoes?

two baby goats
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Babies and young goats should not eat tomatoes. Kids aren’t born with the ability to digest fruits and vegetables and should feed exclusively on their mother’s milk for several months. Once goats are weaned, they can be fed tomatoes as a treat.

Can Goats Eat Tomato Plants?

While the fruit is safe for goats to eat, tomato plants and leaves are poisonous to them. This doesn’t mean your goat won’t eat a tomato plant if he has access to it because he will. Large quantities of tomato plants will cause goats to behave oddly, and it’s strongly recommended that your goat be seen by a veterinarian if you suspect he has eaten a tomato plant.

The leaves of tomato plants contain high levels of alkaloids, which are toxic to ruminant animals. While small amounts may not be life-threatening, it’s best to avoid them altogether as little as half a tomato plant can cause toxicity in your goat.

tomato plant
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How Do You Know If a Goat Has Eaten a Tomato Plant?

As with most farm animals, goats should be checked on daily to ensure their continued health and well-being. This also gives you a baseline for what “normal” behavior is. It will be easier to spot behavior and personality changes that could indicate a problem when you regularly interact with your animals.

Sadly, many times the only way you find out that a goat has eaten a toxic plant is because you find their body in the pasture. To avoid this happening, it’s best to not only monitor your goats regularly but also to monitor your tomato plants. If you find that one has been nibbled on, you can take action quickly.

Here are the symptoms of toxicity from tomato plants in goats:

  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Bleating or crying out in pain
  • Shaking their head or appearing confused
  • Panting and difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • They develop the shakes
  • Bumping into things, staggering, or stumbling
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Eventually death

How to Prevent Your Goat from Eating Tomato Plants

There is one golden rule for goat owners, and that is to never trust a goat. Goats are curious creatures who will go just about anywhere and eat everything in their reach while they’re there. If your property is not properly goat-proofed or has inadequate fencing, you are as likely to find your goat standing on the roof of your vehicle as you are to find him snacking on your tomato plants.

Goats love to wreak havoc, rip plants out of the ground, climb trees, jump fences, you name it. If you want to protect your goat (and your tomato plants), here are some suggestions to keep them separated:

  • Keep your tomato plants in an enclosed greenhouse
  • Don’t grow tomatoes near your goat’s fence, where they might be able to reach through for a snack.
  • Build secure fencing for your tomato plants
  • Make sure your goats have access to plenty of safe forage and healthy plants to keep them occupied.
  • Don’t feed your goats tomatoes. This way, you will avoid them associating the plant with the tasty fruit.
  • Don’t grow tomatoes if you have goats.
baby goat eating
Image Credit: Pixabay

Alternative Safe Fruits for Goats

There are many fruits and vegetables that are safe to feed your goat as a treat. These include:

  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Apples

Before feeding any fruits or vegetables to your goat, ensure they are cut up into small pieces to avoid choking.

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Final Thoughts

The fruit of a tomato plant is safe for goats to eat, but the plant itself is dangerously toxic and can kill a goat. If you choose to feed tomatoes to your goat, do so in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Goat proofing your tomato plants and ensuring your goats have safe housing can help to prevent accidental poisoning from a tomato plant.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay