Feed choices can be tricky with ruminants such as goats, as most people erroneously think they can only feed on grasses; however, questions such as “Can goats eat apples?” have now become common among homesteaders who seek to help their goats become adventurous in their feed choices.
Apples are nutritious and help to provide vitamins and minerals that may be insufficient from the regular feed choices, such as grains and grasses. They offer many health benefits to their consumers and to answer the question if goats can eat apples, yes, they can.
In this article, you will get more than a direct answer to the question, but also gain insight into the benefits your goats can get from consuming apples, how your goat’s digestive system handles apples, and how much apple is too much for your goats to eat?
Nutritional Profile of Apples and how it Affects Goats
Apples are rich in natural sugars, as are grains. However, they have an edge over grains in that they contain almost no fat and are higher in vitamins and minerals than most grains. Therefore, they can be considered a better choice for supplying minerals and vitamins to your goats.
To understand the full nutrient your goats stand to gain from consuming apples, in comparison with a grain (corn), here is a table for your perusal.
Goats are typically energetic animals, especially when they are raised in a wide-open homestead. Therefore, they need a substantial amount of energy, provided by carbohydrates, to keep their bodily functions going. While the major source of carbohydrates for goats is grains, apples are also a good source of carbohydrates for your goats, especially if you’re looking to fatten up your goats.
Vitamins are important in keeping your goats healthy and fit, there are different vitamins contained in apples that help to achieve the fit health you desire for your goats. Vitamin C, one of the major vitamins in apples, is important in functioning as antioxidants, helping your goats to rid toxins in their cells and consequently improving their general health. It is also important in managing stress. Although goats are capable of producing their own vitamin c, they may need supplements during pregnancy and kidding stages of their lives.
Also, your goats stand a better chance of processing their goat feed when you include apples in their diet due to the presence of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps to control how much your goats eat.
Minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, are important in determining sexual virility in goats. Therefore, the more your goats have access to these minerals, the more fertile they are likely to be.
So Can Goats Eat Apples?
While some fruits and vegetables are dangerous to goats, apples aren’t one of them. Apples are great treats for your goats and they will help to provide some nutrients your goats might be deficient in. Your goats can safely consume every part of an apple, including the skin, and seeds.
Although there are some concerns as to the production of cyanide by apple seeds on decomposition, they do not produce enough cyanide to cause harm to your goats. One goat will need to consume up to 5 pounds of hydrogen cyanide to be in danger of poisoning.
However, to be on the safe side, give your goats apples as treats and not as part of their main diet. This addresses some nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamins and minerals, and helps them stick with their usual diet without risking overeating.
Apples are safe treats for goats. You should give them to your goats not only because they won’t cause problems, but also because they offer some health benefits, that will improve the production of your herd, consequently saving you cost.
Goats can have issues with digesting some foods, especially during winter, when they are restricted to their pens and have a large part of their diet consisting of grains. They may develop diarrhea. However, you can improve their rumen ability by adding apples to their diet.
Apples supply your goats with dietary fiber, betaine, and vitamin B1, nutrients that aid in the digestion of carbohydrates – the major nutrient in most grains – into glucose.
Better digestion in your goats translates to better meat production, improved milk production, and better overall health, as they are privy to the beneficial nutrients in their feeds.
Better Stress Management
Goats are particularly susceptible to stress, causing their fur and coat to change color and have patches, especially when they are pregnant or lactating. During this period, your goat needs help to manage the stress they are going through, and the nutrient that helps with that is vitamin c.
Goats are natural producers of vitamin c but it won’t hurt to help them with a little extra vitamin c. This will help their cells get rid of metabolic toxins and regulate their hormones. Vitamin c also helps in maintaining good coat and skin health.
Improved Milk Production
One of the reasons homesteaders raise goats is to have access to good milk. However, your hopes can be dashed if your goats fail to produce as much goat milk as you need. Milk production in goats stems from the quality of feed your goats have. The better the feed your goats consume, the better their milk production.
Nutrients in apples that aid in better milk production include Choline, Betaine, and dietary fiber, among others.
Normal muscular and skeletal development
Minerals contained in apples help to ensure normal development of the skeletal system in kids while they grow. Muscles that help in movement coordination are also influenced by these minerals.
Calcium is one of the goat minerals that help in the formation of the bones that make up the skeletal system. A deficiency in calcium leads to poor bone density and skeletal malformations. Potassium, one of the nutrients highest in concentration in apples, helps to ensure muscular coordination. Every part of a goat’s body has muscles, and they need nutrients to properly function. Potassium helps to keep them functioning and aid in the digestion of food materials that provide nutrition to them.
If your purpose for raising goats is to breed and sell your goats, you may need to increase the intake of potassium, zinc, phosphorus, in your herd. This is because these minerals influence the production of sex hormones in goats.
They are instrumental in determining the reproductive cycle and influence the production of semen that fertilizes the mature ova of does.
How to Feed Apples to your Goats
To help your goats get the best out of eating apples and avoiding the pitfalls associated with goats’ eating apples, consider the following tips:
- Rinse the apples thoroughly
- Cut the apples into small bits before presenting them to your herd
- Periodically give them to your herd, preferably after they have rested from a normal diet
- Do not feed the young goats (one month or younger) apples
- If you’re worried about feeding them seeds you can also remove them when cutting up the apples.
Risks of feeding goats with apples
Considering the size of apples and the nature of goats’ mouths, there are some obvious problems that pose risks to the goats when they are fed apples. Some of the risks associated with feeding apples to goats include:
Goats have mouths that don’t have a wide range of openings. They are not designed to take in whole apples. Also, their teeth are not made to break apples into bits. This may cause problems when you feed your goats apples.
Whole apples or parts larger than they can masticate may get swallowed and make it to their throats, causing them to choke.
Disinterest in other feed
There is the possibility that your goats will not be interested in other feed when you feed them apples, since it contains a substantial amount of water and dietary fiber, making them full quicker. This may lead to insufficient nutrients intake – especially nutrients that are available in low quantities in apples – when they do not eat food rich in those nutrients.
This problem is usually noticed among young goats, usually around a month old. They may be unable to process the apples, especially when they are unable to masticate them. This happens because their digestive tract is not as developed as adult goats.
The answer to the question, “Can Goats eat Apples?” is a yes. However, it is advisable that you ensure your herd consumes the apples in moderation so as to avoid deprivation from other nutrients that are insufficient from apples.