Can Goats Eat Rhubarb? Why It’s Not A Good Idea

Can goats eat rhubarb? No, you should not feed your goats any part of the rhubarb plant as it is poisonous. The stems, leaves, and other parts of the rhubarb plant are toxic to goats and will make them ill.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about rhubarb and goats.

can goats eat rhubarb

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a plant whose stalks can be eaten as a vegetable. It’s related to the roselle and okra plants, and its leaves are also poisonous for goats.

Rhubarb is a perennial plant and the stalks and leaves of the plant contain toxic substances called oxalic acid and calcium oxalate.

These substances can cause severe poisoning in goats, so if your goat eats any part of a rhubarb plant, it’s important to consult a vet for treatment advice.

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Can Goats Eat Rhubarb?

No, you should not feed your goats any part of the rhubarb plant as it is poisonous. The stems, leaves, and other parts of the rhubarb plant are toxic to goats and will make them ill. If your goat eats any part of a rhubarb plant then it’s important that you take note of these symptoms:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive salivation (drooling)
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Tremors (shivering)
  • Weakness in the back legs
  • Collapse (go down on their front knees due to weakness in their legs)
  • Death from muscle paralysis following a collapse
  • Stone-like feces

This list may not be all of the symptoms that are caused by a goat eating rhubarb leaves, but if you notice any of these things then it’s important to consult with your veterinarian or call your local cooperative extension.

If you’ve recently given your goats rhubarb leaves and they have suffered from any of the above symptoms, it may be necessary to give them supportive treatment so their body can push out the toxins naturally.

This includes giving fluids with electrolytes in order for them not to dehydrate, using activated charcoal in order to absorb any poisons in their stomach, and even doses of mineral oil in order to help them pass the stones through their digestive tracks

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Rhubarb to Goats?

goat and kid

Goats browsing on the stems of the rhubarb plant may become ill. They may suffer from gasping, excessive drooling, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, an irregular heartbeat, low body temperature, or weak pulse.

These symptoms are all signs that your goat has ingested too much rhubarb and needs veterinary attention right away to prevent it from dying.

What Parts of Rhubarb Are Unsafe?

All parts of this plant are toxic to goats. The roots, stalks, leaves, and seeds of the plant contain oxalic acid and calcium oxalate. These substances can cause severe poisoning in goats if they eat any part of a rhubarb plant.

What Are the Risks in Feeding Rhubarb to Goats?

Rhubarb contains high levels of oxalic acid and calcium oxalate which are toxic substances that could lead to serious health problems or even death for your goat.

Goats don’t have a necessary need for green plants, so it’s best not to feed them anything green at all as green plants can affect their digestion and health.

It’s better just to stick with hay because other than that you’re just wasting your time and money feeding something that won’t provide any nutritional support or benefit for your goat at all.

How Long Does Rhubarb Take to Hurt Goats?

It can take up to a few days for the symptoms of rhubarb poisoning in goats to begin appearing, so you need to be able to watch your goat closely in order not to miss any potential signs of illness.

If you notice anything different in your goat’s behavior or appetite, it’s important to call your veterinarian immediately in order to treat this before it becomes worse.

What Are the Symptoms of Rhubarb Poisoning in Goats?

kid goat eating plant

The symptoms that are caused by a goat eating rhubarb are

  • Stomach cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive salivation (drooling)
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Tremors (shivering)
  • Weakness in the back legs
  • Collapse (go down on their front knees due to weakness in their legs)
  • Death from muscle paralysis following a collapse
  • Stone-like feces

These symptoms can be treated by your vet administering activated charcoal and mineral oil by mouth.

If you’ve given your goat any part of the rhubarb plant with these symptoms appearing straight away, it may be necessary to put them on fluids with electrolytes so they don’t dehydrate, use activated charcoal to absorb any poisons in their stomach, and even give them doses of mineral oil in order for them to pass the stones through their digestive tract.

However, if this doesn’t work then they will require medications such as diazepam or methocarbamol which will relax their muscles in order to stop them from having tremors or seizures.

If this doesn’t work then there are other medications they may require but these are for when the goat has fully collapsed and is unable to stand up again, which can be fatal for them if not treated within a few hours.

Can Goats Eat Cooked Rhubarb?

While the stems and leaves will make your goat sick, they may be able to handle cooked rhubarb.

Cooking it beforehand or possibly stewing it for a long period of time (upwards of six hours) may be enough to remove all toxicity from the plant and allow it to be safe for goats.

The oxalic acid and calcium oxalate that’s found in the plant only exists on the surface of the plant so removing it through cooking can reduce any potential danger levels and make it safe for your goat to eat.

What other plants can goats eat apart from rhubarb?

Goats are known for their diverse palate and their ability to eat various plants that might be harmful to other animals. Their unique digestive system and browsing habits allow them to consume a wide range of vegetation. However, it’s essential to know which plants are safe for them and which are not. Here, we’ll discuss three plants and their effects on goats.

Poison Ivy

Contrary to what many might think, goats can safely consume poison ivy. In fact, they are often used as a natural method to control and eradicate this plant. Eating poison ivy does not harm the goats, and they seem to relish it. Moreover, their consumption of poison ivy can help clear areas infested with this pesky plant.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Poison Ivy? 4 Awesome Benefits

Poison Oak

Like poison ivy, poison oak is also on the menu for goats. Goats can eat poison oak without any adverse effects. They are similarly used as a biological control method to reduce the spread of poison oak in areas where it’s considered a nuisance. Their appetite for such plants is a testament to their unique digestive abilities.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Poison Oak? 4 Fantastic Benefits

Milkweed

Milkweed is a different story. While some goats might eat it without immediate ill effects, milkweed contains toxins that can be harmful to them in larger quantities. It’s best to avoid letting your goats consume milkweed, especially in significant amounts, as it can lead to poisoning symptoms such as bloating, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, and in severe cases, death. Always monitor your goats if milkweed is present in their grazing area.

Read More: Can Goats Eat Milkweed? Simple Answer & Feeding Tips

Can Goats Eat Rhubarb – Final Thoughts

Goats should not eat rhubarb. It is poisonous to goats and will make them very sick. If you have rhubarb plants in your yard, you should consider removing them.

Goats can eat a lot of things that are bad for people to eat so it is easy for people to think it must be okay for goats to have as well. You cannot go by how other foods affect humans and assume the same will apply to goats.

While you should avoid feeding your goats rhubarb, there are plenty of other plants that they can eat. Goats are browsers, meaning they like to nibble on a variety of different plants.

This makes them great for browsing through hedges and shrubs to clear away unwanted growth. So, if you have some overgrown areas on your property, consider bringing in a few goats to help manage it.

Jill Taylor Happy Farmyard

Jill Taylor

Jill is a full-time homesteader who enjoys learning about sustainable living and practicing self-reliance. She'll most likely be found tending to her many animals including chickens, ducks, goats, and alpacas. You can find out more about her on LinkedIn.