Why Do Goats Eat Everything?

Posted by Stacey Venzel

While it appears that goats eat everything from tin cans to newspaper, they're actually just browsing.

If you've ever had a goat seemingly inhale the shirt off your back through its mouth, you're not alone. Many farmers and pet owners experience this on a daily basis. But what seems like a dangerous habit is actually an innate survival trait.

Goats are browsers in addition to grazers. Similar to their pasture friends, goats appear to eat constantly, but that includes apparently chowing down on inanimate objects. In fact, goats have developed the ability to root through their potential meals to maximize nutrient benefits--even if it means digging through trash.

goats in trash
Paul Myhill

Think about it. When your favorite flannel shirt disappears inside the goat's mouth, it isn't gone for good. They spit it back out. If there were any stray blades of grass hanging off your shirt, they are probably gone, but not the shirt.

Essentially, goats are curious individuals and they use their mouths to explore. Like kids, they stick things in their mouth to see what they are. You can't yell at them for playing with their food; it's a natural activity in goats!

Goats are also picky eaters, but only because they're the human-equivalent of a health nut. They might avoid a Thanksgiving spread of hay due to its limited nutrients, opting for fresher foliage instead.

Goat chewing bread

Eating is by and far a goat's favorite pastime. While they are certainly selective eaters and typically make smart meal choices, this isn't to say they don't occasionally slip up and eat something they should not. If a toxic plant is within reach, it is possible that they will ingest it. As such, it is wise to supply your goat with diverse, sufficient, high-quality food options to pick through, keeping objects and poisonous plants away from them.

Treat them like your kid by providing them with healthy meals. After all, they started out as kids just like us.

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Why Do Goats Eat Everything?