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Can Goats Eat Plastic?

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When you hear the word herbivorous, you probably don’t think of plastic. Since goats are herbivorous, it may never cross your mind that they can eat plastic.

Can goats eat plastic?

Goats can eat plastic but they can’t digest it. Goats are not very selective about what they eat. So, if they find plastic around, they might eat it. However, since a goat’s ruminant stomach cannot digest plastic, they’ll probably just pass it out in their fecal matter. If they don’t pass the consumed plastic in their feces, it could cause digestive issues for them.

goat eating plastic

In this article, we will talk about certain things you should know about goats’ bizarre plastic diet.

Should Goats Eat Plastic?

Goats can eat plastic, but they shouldn’t. Eating plastic may cause digestive issues for them, especially if they don’t pass the plastic out immediately.

In the case of one goat that consumed plastic, the owner noticed that the goat got thinner over time but had a bloated stomach.

When the owner invited a butcher over, and the goat’s stomach was cut open, they found plastic in its stomach.

Plastic cannot be digested, even by the efficient stomach of a ruminant animal. This is why the plastic that the said goat consumed remained unchanged in its stomach. It is for this same reason the goat was also bloated.

Also, since the plastic was not ejected from the goat’s stomach, it slowed down or inhibited the digestive process.

With the digestive process altered, the goat was unable to digest or absorb nutrients from anything else it consumed. Hence, the observed weight loss.

Besides bloating and weight loss, a goat that has eaten plastic may also show signs of distress, loss of appetite, and infrequent stooling.

So, what type of plastics can goats eat? Goats can eat plastic bags, cellophane, thin plastic, and other low-density plastics.

In our research, we found no evidence that goats are able to eat plastic bottles, toys, feed bins, or other high-density plastics. However, we are sure that if goats were to eat any of these, it would be detrimental to their health.

Reasons Goats Might Chew on or Eat Plastic

Seeing your goats eating plastic is a good enough reason to ask why they do so. Anyone with an herbivorous animal that fancies eating plastic would ask the same question.

Herd of goat eating from plastic bag

So, why do goats chew or eat plastic? Goats might try to consume plastic for one of the following reasons:

  • Sometimes goats chew plastic out of curiosity. Sometimes plastic is colorful, and the color might attract a goat to chew it.
  • In some cases, it could also be the taste – plastic can sometimes be salty, but the taste varies.
  • Goats may also come in contact with plastic when you allow them to graze freely in places that contain plastic trash.
  • Your goats may also chew or eat plastic if they are not allowed to graze. If goats are not grazing and are not getting mineral supplements, they may start eating plastic they find around them.

What to Do if Your Goat Eats a Plastic Bag or Other Plastic?

If your goat eats plastic, the best thing to do is call a vet immediately. Alternatively, you can watch the goat for symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, and bloating. If these symptoms show up, call the vet immediately.

However, if none of the said symptoms show up, examine the goat’s poop for the plastic they consumed. If you find that they have passed the plastic out in their feces, then all is good.

If the goat does not pass the plastic out in their feces, and they are asymptomatic, don’t leave them like that.

Veterinarian taking care of goat

The dangers that come with consuming plastic extend beyond the goat. Leaving the plastic inside the goat because the goat is asymptomatic is not okay.

The plastic might contaminate the milk and meat from the goat, and if consumed by people, they could get harmed.

Besides getting your plastic-eating goat treated, you should also ensure that you remove all plastic waste from the goat’s vicinity. This way, you avoid a repeat of the plastic-eating issue.

You should routinely check for plastics and plastic wastes around the goat. Sometimes, even after you’ve cleaned, they could be carried into your farm by the wind.

5 Other Items Goats Should Not Eat

Besides plastic, you should ensure that your goats do not eat the following items:

  • Nails
  • Rubber
  • Broken Glass
  • Tin Cans
  • Glue

Final Thoughts

Goats can eat plastic, but you should ensure they don’t. Consumption of plastic is potentially fatal in goats, and if yours happens to eat plastic, call a vet immediately.

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jeannie hanawalt

Thursday 11th of February 2021

just caught my goat eating his tarp cover. he ate about 2x2 of it. i gave him flax oil then rubbed his abdomen, it is not hard. what is the reality of him surviving this?