To many the goat has a reputation for eating anything. This is not really correct. They are very inquisitive animals and will try nibbling many things, but not really intending to eat them. The washing on the line has been referred to many a times but if left to “eat” what was on the line, they would infact pull it off and trample into the ground at most.
Goats do have a very wide range of plants and trees which are palatable to them. There is also an extremely wide range of plants and trees which are poisonous if eaten. This is where the problems can come, for they will show interest in most vegetation and the poisonous things, to their peril, they may eat. We have seen a goat snatch at foxglove and then promptly spit it out. Did it have an unpleasant taste or did the goat know it was poisonous. Only the goat knew the answer.
Some plants & trees which goats love to eat and are safe to do so.
Ash (take care not to feed the keys).
Brambles (useful if goat is scouring).
Hazel. Hawthorne. Holly (NEVER the berries)
Ivy (NEVER the berries or flower)
Maple (not to many keys)
Oak but NEVER use oak apples or acorns. A few oak leaves are fine but do remember Oak is binding, so some leaves are very good for a scouring goats.
Willow, all types. A very popular tree of which the bark is also very desirable.
Bindweed. Bladder Campion. Chickweed. Chicory.
Clover, red more popular than white.
Common Nettle. Common Thistle.
Cowslip. Dandelion. Docks Fat Hen. Goose Grass (Cleavers) Groundsel.
Heather or Ling. Hedge Parsley. Hogweed.
Knapweed. Lady’s Slipper. Ragged Robin. Red Canpion. Red Dead Nettle.
Shepherd Purse. Silverweed. Sow Thistle.
Vetch, tufted, meadow & bush.
Wild Carrot. Wild Chervil. Wild Sanfoin. Wild Thyme. Willow Herb. Yarrow.
Some plants & trees which should be avoided.
Alder (causes scouring). Aconite. Anemone. Arum. Azela.
Bracken. Broom. Buckthorn. Butterbur.
Buttercup (in excess). Box. Briony.
Celandine. Charlock. Cypressus.
Daffodil. Dog’s Mercury. Foxglove.
Fool’s Parsley. Fungi. Gladiolus. Gourds. Ground Ivy.
Helleboure. Holm Oak. Horsetail (Mare’s tail).
Iris. Juniper. Knotgrass. Knotweed.
Laburnum (all parts deadly). Laurel (all types). Lilac. Lupin
Marsh Mallow. Mugwort. Mulleins.
Old Man’s Beard. Pine. Poppy. Potato Haulms. Privet
Ragwort. Rhubarb. Rush. Spindle (all parts) Tansey Thorn Apple
Tomato plants. Tormentil. Traveller’s Joy.
Probably the most dangerous of all is Rhododendron and lethal if not treated quickly. It’s one of the few things that will kill a goat very quickly and is very difficult to treat. Rhododendrons and other ornamental plants including azaleas, golden chain, and other landscaping shrubs, flowers, and bulbs are extremely poisonous to goats. Even a few Rhododendron leaves can kill a goat. This includes dried and old leaves. To be safe–make sure your children, neighbors, and children’s friends know not to feed your goats anything over the fence – the rule of thumb being, if you are not sure, then do not feed.
If you suspect your goat has eatern something harmful, call your vet immediately and describe the symptoms. Ask the vet if you can administer an antitoxin paste containing activated charcoal to neutralize poison until they arrive. This can be the difference between life and death, especially when they’ve eaten something deadly like Rhododendrons.