It is no secret that goats like to eat weeds and brush, and almost any farmer will tell you to get a goat if you want to clear your yard. We know they like to eat the less visually appealing vegetation, but does grass ever factor into their diets?
Do goats eat grass?
While goats do eat grass, it is not usually their first choice. Goats prefer to eat weeds, shrubbery, weeds, branches, leaves, and hay before grass.
Goats will graze on grass to balance their diet, especially when stalky forages are limited, but grass does not account for a large portion of their intake.
And while goats will occasionally eat grasses, not all grass is safe for goats to eat. Certain kinds of grass are not ideal for goats, and grass should never make up the bulk of your goat’s diet.
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Best Types of Grass for Goats
There are several grasses that are healthy for goats. Different grasses have different nutritional content, making some are better than others for goats to eat. All of the following make great options for goat farms.
Orchard grass is high in crude protein with around 10-12%. It is highly digestible and full of healthy nutrients that goats need to flourish.
Crabgrass does well even during droughts and contains anywhere from 7% to 18% crude protein. It is easily digestible for goats and other livestock.
Bermudagrass excels in the Southeastern United States, and it can grow easily in sandy soils. It contains 12% to 16% crude protein and is very digestible.
As many as 60 goats can be put on one acre of bermudagrass since the more the grasses are eaten the better it will grow.
Smooth bromegrass is high in protein and grows best in cool areas with well-drained soils. It is a high-quality and highly digestible grass for livestock including goats.
Timothy grass is low in protein, so it is not the as good as orchard grass, but it serves the purpose. It contains a lot of energy and can survive in harsh conditions including cold, drought or heavy soil.
Worse Type of Grasses for Goats
Tall Fescue Grass
Tall fescue grass is not safe for goats. It contains a goat-toxic endophyte fungus during mid-summer months. One way to combat this is to not let goats graze on tall fescue fields during summer months.
However, some goat owners prefer to be safe than sorry. It is also suggested to never let goats eat tall fescue lower than 2 inches from the ground.
Downy Brome Grass and Squirrel-Tail Grass
Both of these grasses contain pointy, prickly coverings that can cause internal injuries to the livestock including goats that may try to eat them.
It is best to avoid these grasses at all costs to keep your goats safe and healthy.
Can You Feed a Goat Lawn Clippings?
Many goat owners or goat farm neighbors think it is okay to feed fresh cut grass clippings to goats. Unfortunately, it is not a good idea.
Fresh cut grass clippings are often collected in clumps that contain moisture. Goats may not eat the grass right away, leaving it to set for a while and produce heat from the moisture.
Dried grass clippings are okay for goats to eat, but they must be completely dry. Be sure to always let your neighbors know to never feed your goats anything without your approval.
There are countless stories of farmers losing livestock due to neighbors tossing grass clippings into their pasture.
Do Goats Pull Grass Out by the Roots?
Goats do not pull grass out by the roots like horses do. Goats do not have any teeth on the top part of their mouth, so they cannot grab grass by the root.
Instead, goats must grab grass, weeds, and other food with their tongue. This is great news for farm owners as goats will not strip your pastures bare like horses often will.
Will Goats Ruin my Lawn?
Goats will not ruin your lawn as long as you monitor them. If you want goats to clear your lawn of shrubs, weeds, and high grasses, just let them graze for limited amounts of time.
Although goats do not pull up grass by the roots, too many goats on a small lawn will ruin it if they are left on it for long.
Once the leaves, shrubs, and weeds are gone, the goats will start grazing on the remaining grass. Their hooves can also stomp down the remaining grass and possibly kill it if they are confined on the lawn for too long.
Will Feeding My Goats Grass Make Them Sick?
Feeding grass to your goats will not usually make them sick, depending on how and what all you feed them. Letting your goats graze on grass is the best way to let them pick and choose when they eat grass.
It is also best to introduce them to new grasses slowly and make sure they always have hay or other roughage available to balance their diet.
Remember to avoid feeding grass clippings to your goats if they have not been completely dried out.
7 Tips for Ensuring Your Goats Get Proper Nutrition
Goats need a balanced diet to keep them healthy and thriving. Here are a few tips to make sure your goats get the right nutrition.
1. Make sure your goats always have fresh water.
2. Goats need a variety of forage in their daily diet including hay, grass, and stalky vegetation.
3. Let your goats graze on grass instead of feeding fresh cut grass.
4. Introduce new foods, including grass, to your goat’s diet slowly.
5. Provide a salt mineral lick for your goats for added supplements.
6. Make sure there is plenty of food available for all the goats in your herd.
7. Avoid moldy hay or fermented grass as it can be toxic to goats.
Goats will eat grass, but it should not be their entire diet. While grass is important, goats need to eat leaves, weeds, hay, and stalky vegetation along with grazing on grass.
Be wary of grass clipping or any grass that is moist or moldy. Letting your goats graze on grass and other healthy vegetation or roughage whenever they want is the best way to make sure your goats maintain balanced diets.