It is very difficult for a well-fed goat with a diversity of grass to become intoxicated by ingestion of toxic plants, even so it is interesting to know them.
At the same time, it is impossible to control all the foods that goats eat and to know for sure the toxic potential of what they consume, since the composition of the plants varies depending on many factors .
Poisoning is easier in summer, when there is a lack of diversity in dry grasses, and in early spring, when a toxic plant can overgrow.
On the other hand, goats adapt to their daily pastures and can tolerate a certain amount of toxins if they eat them regularly. New goats and kids may not be adapted to the terrain and curious about the unknown are more likely to become intoxicated than an adult local goat.
The goats eat no problem varying amounts of some plants that are considered toxic and are more resistant to poisoning than cows and sheep, as they have a much more diverse diet. If your goats taste a toxic plant, nothing may happen to them (I have seen Pintas eat a leaf or a couple of flowers of Jimson weed), since there are 3 reasons why goats that eat toxics may not get intoxicated:
- They may have adapted to the toxicity of the plant.
- The toxicity of the plant may be low when consumed.
- The varied diet of goats protects them from possible poisoning.
The strongest poisonings in ruminants have been due to poorly prepared silage, which amounts to a continuous, low-diversity diet containing a toxic plant. Goats, if they can choose, know well what to eat.
Effects of toxins
Goats consume potentially poisonous plants for a number of reasons; for its nutrients, for palatability (some herbicides make them tastier) and for addiction .
The best way to manage pasture toxicity is to accompany and stay close to grazing with them, observe how their preferred diet suits them, and let them be your teachers themselves.
In general, the problems derived from poisoning can be: anemia, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, colored urine, foamy meteorism (accumulation of gas in the rumen), goiter (thyroid enlargement), stillbirth, bleeding, problems in the liver, kidney, heart, nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems, photosensitization, stomatitis and death.
The ingestion of some plants can change the flavor of the milk and decrease its production, in addition to that sometimes the toxins end up in the milk and meat, so it is not necessary to consume milk or meat from an intoxicated animal.
To prevent intoxication of goats we can follow these recommendations:
- Know the plants of the pastures and the appetites of our goats.
- Study the toxicity of the plants in our environment.
- Grazing en route, so that there is a variety of foods in the diet.
- Take the animals out to graze without much hunger so that they are more selective.
- Give them their cereal ration before leaving, since the carbohydrates in cereals neutralize some toxins.
Some toxic plants
There are many toxic plants for goats and some of them are eaten daily with other plants, so it is more interesting to follow the instructions to prevent poisoning than to know all the toxic effects of plants that goats can have within reach. .
The most important thing is to know the negative effects of some plants that we can offer to goats, such as pruning, garden and kitchen remains.
It should be known that the plants that humans use to feed ourselves have been selected for millennia to reduce their potential toxicity, so goats should ingest them daily, for a time and with no alternative in the diet to become intoxicated with the plants that we humans eat.
Potentially toxic garden plants:
- The cruciferous genus brassica spp . They contain glucosinolates, nitrates, oxalates and S-methyl cysteine sulfoxide, consumed continuously and in excess can cause anemia, darken the color of the urine, goiter disease and stillbirth.
- The genus Allium, onions, garlic, leeks and chives, consumed continuously and in excess can cause anemia, darken the color of the urine, weaken the aroma of milk and decrease milk production.
- The pea, of the genus Pissum, can thin the aroma of milk.
- The avocado (Persea americana): contains persin, toxic to many animals including cats and dogs. In goats it can cause mastitis and heart disease and the consumption of leaves and bark reduces the amount of milk.
- The potato (Solanum tuberosum) if green can cause diarrhea and nervous disorders, it also interferes with calcium metabolism, alters the aroma of milk and reduces its production.
- The sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) contains oxalates and nitrates so the toxicity is very variable, but may actually cause diarrhea, is toxic to the kidney and can cause nerve symptoms.
- The rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) contains oxalates, so can be toxic to the kidneys and nervous symptoms may occur.
- The radish (Raphanus sativus) may cause vomiting.
- The pulses can cause bloat, an accumulation of gas in the rumen.
- Fava beans, of the genus Vicia, contain cyanogenic glycosides that can produce low doses of cyanide, a highly toxic poison.
- The purslane (Portulaca oleracea) may contain oxalates affecting the kidney.
- The genus Prunus, in which we find the cherry, peach, almond and plum, are edible if they are green but the dried ornamental or fruit Prunus contain cyanogenic glycosides that can produce cyanide, so it is necessary to avoid giving them dry pruning branches by prunnus .
- The cassava (Manihot esculenta) may be neurological, but its toxicity is variable and goats can be adapted to it. In silage it is no longer toxic after two weeks of fermentation. There is little information on cassava poisoning in goats.
- The tomato: contains solanine, we could not find information about its effects in goats, but we have seen that if you can, avoid eating their leaves.
- The snuff: contains nicotine, which is transmitted to milk.
- The cereals such as oats, buckwheat, corn, rapeseed, wheat, rye, alfalfa, white clover, amaranth and ensiled poisoning can cause excess nitrates.
We are working on a fairly complete list of toxic silvers for goats around the world that is close to 250 copies. If you have any questions about the toxicity of any plant you can write to us and we will give you the information we have about it.