What Can Goats Eat and Not Eat? Garden Waste Do's and Don'ts

Goats are renowned for their diverse and adaptable diets, making them excellent candidates for managing garden waste. However, it is crucial to understand which garden waste items are safe and beneficial for goats and which ones should be avoided. 

We will explore the dos and don'ts of feeding goats garden waste. By familiarizing yourself with these guidelines, you can ensure the health and well-being of your goats while effectively utilizing garden waste as a sustainable and nutritious food source.

Goats' Dietary Requirements

Goats are herbivores with unique digestive systems. While they can consume a wide variety of plant materials, it is essential to consider their specific dietary needs. Here are two key considerations.

Roughage: Goats require a diet high in fiber, which aids in proper digestion. They need access to fresh, clean water at all times, as well as ample quantities of forage or high-quality hay.

Mineral Supplementation: Goats need a balanced intake of minerals, such as copper, selenium, and zinc. Consult with a veterinarian or livestock nutritionist to determine the appropriate mineral supplementation for your goats.

Safe Garden Waste for Goats

Leaves and Prunings

Goats can safely consume many types of leaves and prunings, including those from trees and shrubs like apple, pear, willow, blackberry, and raspberry. However, avoid feeding them leaves or prunings from toxic plants such as yew, rhododendron, azalea, and oleander.

Grass Clippings

Freshly cut grass clippings can be fed to goats in moderation. However, ensure that the grass has not been treated with herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals that could be harmful to the goats.

Vegetable and Fruit Scraps

Goats can enjoy a variety of vegetable and fruit scraps as long as they are not spoiled or moldy. Safe options include carrot tops, lettuce leaves, cucumber ends, and apple cores. However, avoid feeding them onions, garlic, avocado, and citrus fruits.

What Can Goats Not Eat? What Not To Feed Goats

Toxic Plants

Goats should never have access to toxic plants such as rhododendron, azalea, yew, oleander, lily of the valley, and nightshade. These plants contain compounds that are poisonous to goats and can have severe consequences if ingested.

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

Avoid feeding goats any garden waste that has been treated with herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals. These substances can be toxic and pose a risk to the goats' health.

Plants with Thorns or Spines

Goats have sensitive mouths and digestive systems, so avoid feeding them garden waste with thorns or spines, such as rose trimmings or cactus pads. These can cause injury or blockages in their digestive tract.

Tips for Feeding Garden Waste to Goats

Introduce New Foods Gradually

When introducing garden waste to your goats' diet, do so gradually. Start with small quantities and observe their response. This helps prevent digestive upset or potential adverse reactions.

Quality Control

Ensure that the garden waste you feed your goats is fresh, clean, and free from contaminants. Remove any spoiled or moldy portions before offering them to them.

Variety and Balance

While goats can consume a wide range of garden waste, it's important to provide them with a balanced diet. Supplement garden waste with high-quality hay or forage to meet their nutritional needs.


Feeding goats garden waste can be an excellent way to minimize food waste and provide additional nutrients to your goats. By understanding what garden waste items are safe and beneficial for goats and which ones to avoid, you can ensure the health and well-being of your animals. 

Remember to always prioritize the dietary requirements of your goats, gradually introduce new foods, and maintain a balanced diet. By following these guidelines, you can utilize garden waste as a valuable resource while keeping your goats healthy, happy, and thriving.