Goats can eat acorns, though you definitely want to prevent them from eating too many. While acorns can be a good source of protein and fat and contain some important minerals and vitamins that goats need in their diet, there have been many cases of acorn poisoning in goats that can result in death. Therefore, goats should only eat acorns in moderation.
During wet falls, when heavy rains dislodge the acorns and they fall to the ground, and dry summers, when forages are scarce, is when you really need to keep a close eye on your goats’ acorn consumption.
Can Pregnant Goats Eat Acorns?
There have been a few anecdotal reports that pregnant goats that eat acorns might suffer from complications in pregnancy. However, as of yet, there has been no clear link between the two.
As with non-pregnant goats, as long as acorns aren’t consumed in excess, pregnant goats can eat acorns just fine.
Can Goats Eat Oak Leaves?
Whether it’s the acorn itself, the bark, branches, or the leaves of the oak tree, it doesn’t matter. Almost every part of an oak tree is poisonous to goats when consumed in excess.
This doesn’t mean that goats should completely avoid consuming oak leaves. In fact, goats will find oak leaves very tasty. Just remember that moderation is key and providing oak leaves as a snack or a tasty treat is fine.
Are Acorns Good for Goats?
When eaten in small quantities, acorns can play an important role in goats’ diets. They are a good source of protein, fat, and antioxidants while also containing important minerals and vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin A, iron, manganese, potassium.
How Acorns Benefit Goats
- Vitamin E: Growth and reproduction
- Vitamin A: Disease resistance, vision, lactation, reproduction
- Iron: Immune system and overall immune health
- Manganese: Bone formation, reproduction, enzyme functioning
- Potassium: Metabolism, maintains correct fluid balance in the body
Can Acorns Kill Goats?
Yes, acorns can kill goats, though only when eaten in excess. Acorns are very high in tannins, which can cause liver and kidney damage, resulting in death. Oak leaves when eaten in excess can also cause the same issues.
How to Spot Acorn Poisoning in Goats
There are a few signs to look out for that can tell you when a goat has been affected by oak poisoning.
Firstly, the goat will stop eating and suffer from constipation with dark, mucus-covered stools. Later on, the goat may suffer from bloody or very dark, tarry diarrhea – at which point they will become very thirsty and seen more frequently in or around water.
Other physical signs to look for include poor body condition and lost weight, edema, such as bottle jaw, and a bloody nose.
An important thing to remember is that acorn poisoning isn’t an overnight thing. It may take as long as a couple of weeks before you notice any physical changes.
How to Avoid Acorn Poisoning
Obviously, the best way to avoid acorn poisoning in goats is to make sure that the goats avoid acorn-covered pastures in the first place. If this isn’t possible, regularly clearing the area of fallen acorns can be a good idea.
Adding calcium hydroxide or proline to feeds is another alternative, as it significantly reduces the risk of poisoning. Before you do this, though, it would be wise to speak to your veterinarian.
Whichever method you choose, always remember that prevention is easier and cheaper than having to seek medical treatment.