Can Goats Eat Cranberries? Simple Answer & Feeding Tips

Written By Jill Taylor

When I first started raising goats, the question of what treats to feed them often lingered in my mind. Can goats eat cranberries? I soon found out that not only do most goats have a penchant for these tart berries, but cranberries can also offer them a plethora of health benefits. 

Dive into this article to uncover everything you need to know about feeding cranberries to your goats, from the potential risks to the undeniable rewards. Remember, a happy goat is often a product of a varied and nutritious diet, and these little red gems might just be the treat you’ve been searching for.

can goats eat cranberries

What are Cranberries?

Cranberries are tart berries that grow in bogs and marshes. They are most commonly red, but there are also white cranberries. Cranberries can be eaten raw or cooked into jams, jellies, pies, sauces, and juice.

Cranberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants and they also contain beneficial dietary fiber, which can help to support a healthy digestive tract.


Are Cranberries Safe for Goats?

Yes! There is nothing in cranberries that could make your goat ill. The only possible concern you may have is if your goat eats too many berries at once or eats the stems of the cranberry plant.

When feeding cranberries to your goats, be sure they are thoroughly chewed before swallowing.

Cranberry stems are not safe for goats to eat because they contain a toxin called emodin. While emodin itself is not poisonous, it can ferment into prussic acid inside the goat’s digestive system and cause bloating and even death. (Prussic acid poisoning happens very rarely but it can affect animals with sensitive stomachs.)

Health Benefits of Cranberries for Goats

fresh cranberries

Cranberries contain beneficial dietary fiber and antioxidants that can help support a healthy digestive tract for your goats. They also offer many vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Folate (Vitamin B9)
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)
  • Vitamin A
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Are there any Risks in Feeding Cranberries to Goats?

There are very few risks in feeding cranberries to your goats, but there are some things for you to keep in mind.

Cranberries are not perfectly suited for all types of goats. If your goat is already suffering from diarrhea or another type of digestive upset, cranberry can make the problem even worse.

If you notice that your goat’s manure has become watery or loose after eating cranberries, do not feed them more until you speak with a veterinarian about it because it could be an indication of health problems beyond just the cause of diarrhea.

How to Feed Cranberries to Goats

You should never feed cranberries as the only source of goat’s food because they lack adequate nutrition.

Instead, you can use them as a supplement or as an occasional treat by feeding them with their stems removed. When feeding cranberries to your goats, remember that fresh is best and only remove the stems if they are fresh.

How do Goats Eat Cranberries?

goat eating

Goats do not eat cranberries as humans eat them; they use their front teeth to pull off the skin of the fruit before eating the fleshy part inside.

If you want your goats to enjoy fresh cranberries with minimal preparation, simply place a bunch of fresh cranberries in a large container with no lid or some other opening on top that allows for air circulation.

The container will provide enough space for movement so that your goats can access all the cranberries they want to enjoy.

Leave the container out for your goats to eat at their leisure while more berries will slowly fall to the bottom of the container for them to enjoy later.

Can Goats Eat Fresh Cranberries?

kid goat eating plant

Yes, goats can eat cranberries in any form, but feeding the fresh variety is ideal if it’s available to you. Fresh cranberries are small with tough skins which helps to make them less sweet and easier for your goats to digest.

Canned cranberry sauce may contain added sugar or other ingredients that aren’t healthy for our furry friends, so stick to unpasteurized fresh berries when you can.

The tough skin of fresh cranberries also makes them a great treat for “tooth-breaking” games, such as the popular “coconut game”, which encourages dental health by breaking down your goat’s tooth enamel!

Can Goats Eat Canned Cranberries?

Goats can eat canned cranberries, too, but they may be more difficult for your goats to digest because of the added sugar.

If you only have access to canned cranberries, make sure to remove the skin from your goat’s portion of the dish before feeding it to them.  Cranberry sauce is often made with added ingredients that can contain traces of onion and garlic which are poisonous to goats so be sure it contains only cranberries and a sweetener such as honey or sugar.

Can Goats Eat Dried Cranberries?

Goats can eat dried cranberries, but they don’t offer the same health benefits to your goats that fresh or canned cranberries do.

When choosing dried cranberries for your goat, look for varieties that don’t contain added ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and salt.

Dried cranberries contain just as many vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts without offering a wet consistency that could cause digestive discomfort.

How Often Should I Feed my Goats Cranberries?

Goats can enjoy a serving of cranberries as a treat provided it’s one of the only fruits they have access to each day.

If your goats are fed other fruits daily, you should avoid feeding them cranberries so they don’t develop diarrhea from ingesting too much fructose.

In small amounts, however, cranberries can be enjoyed as a wonderful source of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that will keep your goats healthy and help to fight off infection and disease.

What other parts of the cranberry plant are safe for goats?

cranberry plant

The cranberry plant, known for its tart berries, consists of more than just the fruit we often associate with it. From the stems to the leaves, each part has its unique properties. But when it comes to goats, which parts are safe for consumption?


The leaves of the cranberry plant are generally safe for goats to eat. They contain essential nutrients and can provide a decent source of roughage. However, like with all new introductions, it’s always wise to provide these in moderation and observe your goats for any unusual reactions.


While the stems are a part of the cranberry plant, caution is required here. As mentioned in the main article, cranberry stems contain a substance called emodin, which can ferment into prussic acid inside a goat’s digestive system. This can lead to bloating and in rare cases, even death. It’s best to avoid feeding cranberry stems to goats altogether.


Cranberry flowers, which bloom before the fruit sets, are safe for goats. They are not known to have any toxic effects and can be an occasional treat. However, it’s essential to ensure that any flowers fed to goats are free from pesticides and other chemicals that might be harmful.


The roots of the cranberry plant aren’t typically consumed by goats or recommended for them. While there’s limited information on the potential toxicity of cranberry roots for goats, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Stick to parts of the plant that are known to be safe and nutritious.

In essence, while the cranberry fruit itself is a delightful and nutritious treat for goats, not all parts of the cranberry plant are suitable for consumption. When in doubt, always consult with a veterinarian or an expert in goat nutrition to ensure the safety and well-being of your herd.

What other berries can goats eat apart from cranberries?

whole and chopped strawberries

When it comes to diversifying the diet of our goats with delicious berries, cranberries aren’t the only option on the menu. Berries, in general, are known for their nutritional benefits and are often a hit among the hoofed crowd. Let’s explore some of the other popular berries and whether they are suitable for goat consumption:


Goats can indeed eat strawberries. These red delights are not only loved by humans but also by our goats. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Just ensure you feed them in moderation and, if possible, organic strawberries to avoid harmful pesticides.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Strawberries? 6 Excellent Benefits


Blueberries are another fantastic option for goats. They are rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C and vitamin K. A handful of these tiny blue gems can be a tasty treat for your goats, providing them with a boost of nutrients.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Blueberries? 5 Fantastic Benefits


Blackberries are safe and beneficial for goats. They are packed with dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. When feeding blackberries to goats, ensure they are ripe, as unripe ones can be a bit harsh on their stomach.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Blackberries? 5 Awesome Benefits


Raspberries, whether red or black, are perfectly fine for goats. They offer an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, and various B vitamins. Like other berries, it’s essential to ensure they are free from pesticides and chemicals.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Raspberries? 5 Excellent Benefits


While not as common as the others on this list, gooseberries can also be fed to goats. They are nutrient-dense and provide a good amount of vitamin C. However, due to their slightly tangier nature, some goats might be hesitant initially. It’s always a good idea to introduce any new food slowly to see how your goat reacts.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Gooseberries? Unraveling The Berry Mystery

Can Goats Eat Cranberries – Final Thoughts

In the delightful world of goat treats, cranberries certainly take the spotlight! These vibrant red gems not only tantalize the taste buds of our hoofed friends but pack in a punch of nutrients. From their antioxidant richness to the bountiful vitamins, it’s no wonder goats might do a little happy dance when they spot these berries.

However, like any foodie adventure, there are dos and don’ts. While the cranberry fruit is a goat’s delight, those stems might just rain on the parade. And let’s not forget, our goats have an appetite for other berries too! So, next time you’re out berry shopping, remember our furry friends and maybe, just maybe, drop a berry or two their way. Because a goat with a berry is a sight full of merry!