If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely wondered more than once – can goats eat squash? Well, we’re about to put that question to bed once and for all: Yes, they can! In fact, goats not only can eat squash, but they often enjoy it. This seemingly simple vegetable, in all its varieties, can become a delightful part of your goats’ diet, keeping them healthy and happy.
In our homestead, feeding our goats with fresh produce is not just about sustenance, it’s about creating variety in their diet, enriching their lives, and ensuring their health. Squash, in particular, has become a staple in their meals. With its nutritional density and the goats’ evident fondness for it, it has proven to be a fantastic addition to their regular diet.
However, when it comes to feeding goats squash, there are a few things you need to know to ensure it’s being done safely and effectively. From what types of squash are best for goats, to how often they should be fed, and how to properly prepare it, this article is set to cover everything you need to know about this often overlooked aspect of goat feeding. So, let’s dive in and uncover the benefits and how-tos of feeding squash to your goats.
What is Squash?
Squash is a common term for several different types of summer and winter squash.
Summer squash has thin, edible skins and offers a very small amount of seeds and pulp when compared to other varieties. There are varieties in this particular type that do not grow on vines, but rather bushes.
Some examples of summer squash include zucchini, yellow squash, and some forms of “crookneck.”
Winter squash is produced in the fall and has thick, sweet-tasting flesh around large seeds inside a hard or semi-hard shell. Many of these varieties can be stored throughout the winter months if properly cured (very ripe) and cared for (storage temperature).
Some examples of winter squash include acorn, buttercup, cheese pumpkins, spaghetti, pumpkin (very good for goats), and Hubbard squashes.
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What Nutrients Do Goats Need?
Goats need a healthy diet to maintain their bodies and promote health. A nutrient-dense diet provides all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, phytonutrients, etc that are needed for the goat to live a long life.
Plants are also an important part of a nutritious meal since they provide fiber. Fiber is vital in maintaining intestinal health while providing the necessary “roughage” for proper digestion.
Is Squash Safe for Goats to Eat?
Squash is safe for your goats to eat and they will enjoy it. Just make sure you introduce any new food slowly over a period of time because sudden changes in their diet may cause stomach upset.
Goats can eat any variety of squash and they will enjoy all types. Try feeding them different kinds every week or at least rotate between a few different kinds. For instance: one week feed them yellow summer squash and then the next week feed them zucchini. This way they are getting a healthy dose of nutrients without getting too much of one kind.
How Often Should Goats Eat Squash?
Goats should eat squash about once per week to get the proper nutrients. Make sure the weight of your goat doesn’t drop too low and that they are getting enough food over an extended period of time.
Too much squash can cause nutrient imbalances when fed in large quantities, so limit the amount of squash to less than 10% of their daily food intake.
How to Prepare Squash for Goats
Cut the rind off and cut the inside flesh into cubes (about an inch thick).
Steam or boil until very soft so it can be easily mashed, about 30-40 minutes depending on the size/type of squash being cooked. This cooking process kills bacteria, some parasites, and some viruses that are present in raw squash.
Allow the squash to cool completely before serving to your goats. If you have more than two animals at one feeder, provide several smaller troughs rather than one large feeder so the goats can eat at their own pace.
Can Goats Eat Raw Squash?
Goats can eat raw squash but cooking it first is highly recommended. The outer rind is tough for goats to digest and the seeds are not soft enough for them to chew.
Cooking squash before feeding it to your goat will make all parts softer, easier to digest, and more nutritious since some vitamins are destroyed by heat.
In addition, steaming or boiling removes bacteria, parasites, and viruses from raw squash that may be harmful to your goat’s health. Parvovirus specifically has been found in raw yellow crookneck squash so it’s best not to feed this type of squash raw because the virus may remain even after cooking it thoroughly.
Can Goats Eat Butternut Squash?
Absolutely! Like all varieties of squash, butternut squash is very safe for goats. It’s also extremely nutritious and packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes… you name it!
Give it a try next time you’re cooking some up for your family. Your goats will love it.
Can Goats Eat Pumpkin?
Yes indeed! Pumpkins are one of the most popular foods to feed goats during the fall season. It’s delicious (according to the goats), acts as an appetite stimulant, and is loaded with nutrients that can help boost weight gain in lactating does or bucks at peak breeding times.
Can Goats Eat Yellow Squash?
Yes, they can. The yellow squash variety is just as nutritious and delicious for goats as zucchini or any other type of summer squash you may have growing in your garden right now.
Can Goats Eat Acorn Squash?
Acorn squash is a favorite among many goat owners because it’s packed with nutrients and the goats love it!
Just make sure to introduce any new food slowly over a period of time because sudden changes in diet may cause stomach upset. Be sure to cut away the rind and cut the inside flesh into cubes (about an inch thick).
Steam or boil until very soft so it can be easily mashed, about 30-40 minutes depending on the size/type of squash being cooked.
How to Feed Pumpkins to Goats
Remove the seeds (though you may want to leave some in, depending on how much pumpkin you’re feeding – see above). Cut out any bruises or soft spots that are easily visible. Cut into slices about 1/2″ thick then cube… similar to preparing squash for goats. Steam until very soft like squashes and feed as usual.
What if My Goat Doesn’t Eat Squash?
The best way to find out what your goats like to eat is to toss them a little bit at a time while you monitor their behavior. If it hits the ground, they probably won’t touch it for several days. But eventually, they will thank you.
A couple of things you can try if your goats don’t like the squash is to contact your local county extension office (or state university) which will gladly send up free samples of various goat feeds. These are typically grain mixes with minerals and other healthy additives. They should be willing to give you a couple of pounds free of charge.
Another option is to visit your local Tractor Supply or feed store and ask what they recommend as a good goat feed for winter. You can also ask them if they have any samples you can try out on your herd. Just take care that it’s not too sweet which could cause diarrhea in some goats, especially young ones.
The last tip we’ll leave you with is: keep trying! Some goats can be very picky about their food and will only eat certain things after they’ve been introduced over time. But once they develop a taste, it’s hard to get them to stop eating it.
What if My Goat Is Constipated?
Some people say that feeding goats squash makes them constipated for some reason. If your goat is not properly digesting its food, then this could be what’s causing the problem. Feed
Occasional constipation is normal in goats. However, if it’s a recurring issue with your goat you may want to think about how much squash and other gourds your goat is eating each day.
Not only are gourds high in water content (which can lead to loose stool) but they also contain large amounts of natural sugars and starches that digest into sugar and cause elevated insulin levels and potential weight gain/health issues when fed over extended periods of time.
If this sounds like your goat, reduce the number of gourd feedings per week or split the total daily amount at two separate feedings during the day.
What other vegetables can goats eat?
Beyond the realm of squash, there’s an array of vegetables that can add a wholesome touch to your goat’s dietary routine. It’s important to remember, however, that not all veggies are goat-friendly, and it’s crucial to understand what is safe and beneficial for them. Let’s discuss five other vegetables to enhance your goats’ diet while ensuring their health.
Goats are big fans of pumpkins! This delightfully orange vegetable isn’t just a favorite during Halloween but can be a real treat for goats. Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and a high water content, pumpkins can help hydrate your goats while providing a nutrient boost. Just remember to remove the seeds, as they can be harmful in large quantities.
Read More: Can Goats Eat Pumpkin? 6 Amazing Benefits
While it might come as a surprise, tomatoes are a safe and healthy choice for goats. These juicy fruits (yes, they’re technically fruits) are packed with vitamins A and C, which are beneficial for a goat’s overall health. However, ensure only the ripe tomatoes are fed to your goats as the green parts, including leaves and stems, contain solanine, a toxic compound for goats.
Cucumbers can be another refreshing addition to your goat’s diet. With high water content and a variety of minerals, they’re a hydrating and healthy choice, especially during warmer months. They’re perfectly safe for goats, but remember, as with all vegetables, to introduce them slowly into their diet to avoid digestive problems.
Zucchini, a member of the squash family, is equally popular among goats. This nutrient-rich veggie is a great source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. You can feed it raw or cooked; just be sure to cut it into manageable pieces for easier eating and digestion.
Bell peppers, in all their colorful varieties, are a safe and nutritious addition to your goat’s diet. They’re loaded with vitamins, especially vitamin C, and antioxidants. However, due to their sweet taste, some goats might eat too many if given the chance, so be sure to regulate the amount your goats eat to prevent digestive upset.
Can Goats Eat Squash – Final Thoughts
Feeding squash to your goats is a great way to provide them with some extra nutrients. Be sure to give them plenty of water, as well as hay and grain, to make sure they get the most out of eating squash.
Some people like to cook the squash first, but it’s not necessary. Goats will enjoy eating raw or cooked squash equally. Just be sure to clean any seeds or skin off before giving it to them, so they don’t choke on anything. Enjoy feeding your goats this delicious treat!