Pumpkins are known to be around during fall as you’ll see them in abundance when Halloween approaches; but, have you considered if goats can eat pumpkin and help you with the left-over pumpkin you usually throw out after Halloween? Will it not be easier to have those pumpkins in your backyard, where your herd can dismantle the pods and down the nutrients they offer?
Can goats eat pumpkin? Yes, they can. Goats are herbivores that will readily consume every part of the pumpkin fruit, including its seeds. Pumpkins are nutritious; they contain vitamins, dietary fiber, water, and some proteins that may be useful in supplementing the diet of your goats, and save you some costs, especially when pumpkin farmers in the locality need to get rid of excess pumpkins.
Read on to understand the benefits of pumpkins to your goats, the risks involved in feeding goats with pumpkins, how you can incorporate pumpkin into your goats’ diet, what part of pumpkin fruits is safe for goats to eat, and how to feed goats with pumpkin.
Goat Diet and Pumpkin as a treat
Goats are known to be picky when it comes to what they eat; they can have grasses and grains in the same feeding trough and choose to eat grains, despite being herbivores. Domesticated goats are even pickier and can modify their diet habit based on what they have access to; however, their preference will always be grasses and forages.
Goats raised in homesteads usually have access to kitchen leftovers, expanding their feed options, compared to intensive-raised goats. This gives them the privilege of having access to more nutrients from different foods and helping them grow healthier and with little cost implications. They usually feed on grasses, as is normal for goats, and depend more on grains during the cold months, to supply ample energy. However, without fruits and vegetables in their diet, they still miss out on some important vitamins and minerals.
It is common to see goats feed, especially grains, have feed additives that supply these vitamins and minerals, but they are also available in other feed choices – fruits such as pumpkins, and they are more affordable and in their natural state in these foods. Grains majorly provide carbohydrates while grasses provide some carbohydrates, proteins, a little fat, and some minerals and vitamins. Pumpkin, if added to your goats’ diet will provide vitamins and minerals; vitamin A, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, among others.
|Vitamin A||426 µg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.298 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.061 mg|
|Vitamin C||9 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.44 mg|
|Vitamin K||1.1 µg|
100 g of pumpkin fruit contains over 90% of water, 0.5 g of dietary fiber, provides 6.5 g of carbohydrates, 1 g of protein, 21 mg of calcium, 12 mg of magnesium, 340 mg of potassium, 16 µg of folate, 426 µg of vitamin A, and 9 mg of vitamin C, among others.
Can Goats Eat Pumpkin?
Yes, goats can eat pumpkin, and not just the fruit. They can eat the fruit – pulp and rind – the leaves, and the seeds of the pumpkin fruit, albeit in small quantities, and as a treat. Although there are concerns about the consumption of pumpkin seeds by goats due to the presence of cucurbitacin in them, they have been found to possess some medicinal properties and can be of benefit to your goats.
As you give your goats the nutrients in pumpkin, ensure that you consider the safety of their sizes for them. Big pumpkin fruits may be difficult for your goats to open and feed on. You may have to open the fruits up for them, and in some cases, you may have to cut the fruit into smaller pieces to make consumption easier and prevent choking.
Give your goats pumpkin fruits as treats and not a replacement for their meals. They can supplement the insufficient vitamins and minerals in their grains, grasses, and forages by consuming pumpkin fruits, leaves, and seeds. As a general rule of thumb, give goats treats at least thrice a week.
Benefits of feeding Goats with Pumpkin
While nutrients are essential for the growth and development of every living organism, including goats, they also aid in some metabolic activities and improve the health of their consumers by targeting specific parts of the body or exerting their effects on every part of the body. In goats, some nutrients – such as vitamin C, are produced by their system and only need a little quantity from their feed, while others, such as vitamin A, are primarily supplied by the foods they consume.
Some of the benefits your goats can derive from regularly consuming pumpkin include:
Better Intestinal worm control
One of the health concerns a homesteader has of his, or her, goats are intestinal worms, their effects, and how to control them. Many goat dewormers are available in the market but some are ineffective against the parasitic worms that now affect goats. Also, the cost of getting these dewormers may be discouraging to some homesteaders that are new to raising goats.
Pumpkin seeds contain a protein called cucurbitacin, and it is primarily meant to discourage goats from consuming the pumpkin fruit as it is bitter when consumed in large quantities. This protein has been researched to have a paralyzing effect on intestinal worms, causing them to stop growth and reproduction.
They are excellent natural worm treatment options for goats and they are cheaper than the regular goat dewormers.
For easier digestion of food in most mammals, including goats, there needs to be an adequate presence of water and enzymes. Goats have peculiar stomachs and they frequently regurgitate to make digestion easier for their stomach. An important factor in easy food digestion for them is the presence of probiotics (bacteria) in their rumen.
Pumpkin is relatively rich in dietary fiber and abundant in water. The combination of these two make digestion of food materials easier, and absorption of nutrients more efficient. There is hardly any occurrence of digestive issues.
Healthy fetal growth
During pregnancy, a lot of things can go wrong but regardless, the pregnant doe has to be kept in good health. However, the good health of the doe does not always translate to the healthy development of the fetus. In some cases, seemingly healthy does can give birth to malformed kids that may need extra care and attention but you may lose them eventually.
To avoid such occurrences, feed your pregnant does with pumpkin and you can rest assured that the fetuses will be healthy. Pumpkins contain vitaminB9, also called folate, which is important in the neural development of fetuses. It also contains calcium and magnesium that help to grow and strengthen bones. Other nutrients, such as iron, niacin, and thiamine aid in the production of blood.
Stronger bones and teeth
Older and newborn goats have bones and teeth that are not as strong as the agile and middle-aged goats in the herd. They need special attention and require more nutrients to cater to their weak bones and teeth.
Calcium and magnesium are nutrients that work hand-in-hand and help to strengthen the bones and teeth of mammals. Calcium strengthens the bones and improves the enamel deposit on the teeth, while magnesium aids in the uptake of calcium in the system.
The susceptibility of your herd to different goat diseases directly translates to the amount you will spend on keeping them healthy. A herd with strong immunity needs little expenditure on their health while a herd with weaker immunity needs more attention to their health, hence, more spending.
Pumpkin contains vitamins A and C that are important in boosting the immunity of your goats. Vitamin A helps top fortify the white blood cells, while vitamin C detoxifies the cells and helps them function optimally. Minerals, such as zinc and potassium, influence the strength of the immune system and they are abundant in pumpkins.
Risks of feeding Goats with Pumpkin
There are many benefits to feeding your goats with pumpkin but there are risks as well. Although some fruits are high in sugar, pumpkin isn’t. Therefore, it is safer to feed them to your goats when you’re worried that they’ll become overweight. Here are some of the risks of feeding your goats with pumpkin:
- Your goats may choke while rating the pumpkin rinds, especially if it’s their first time eating them. The seeds may choke them too.
- They may develop urinary calculi if you do not control their frequency of feeding on pumpkins.
How to feed Goats with Pumpkin
To get the best results from feeding your goats with pumpkin, follow this guideline:
- Lead goats to a pumpkin field and watch them take on the fruits. Preferably, have the pumpkin field beside a pasture.
- Cut big pumpkin fruits open on the floor for them. You may have to break the pods into pieces to make feeding easier
- Keep watch on the younger goats to quickly address choking if it occurs.
- If you’ll be feeding them in their barns, ensure that you give them only healthy pumpkin fruits.
- Cut the fruits into smaller pieces.
Yes, goats can eat pumpkins. Pumpkins are nutritious and unlike many other fruits, it is low in sugar and your goats are at a lesser risk of obesity when they consume them. However, ensure that your goats consume pumpkin fruits and seeds as treats as they run the risk of developing urinary calculi if consumed uncontrolled.