Can Goats Eat Rhubarb

Rhubarb, a perennial plant often used in pies and other culinary delights, has a unique tart flavor many enjoy. However, regarding feeding rhubarb to goats, caution must be exercised because of the potential risks associated with this plant. Rhubarb contains compounds like oxalic, tannin (like white oak), and other alkaloids.

The stalks of the rhubarb plant are safe for consumption, yet the leaves contain higher concentrations, making them potentially toxic to goats. Therefore, it is best to avoid feeding rhubarb leaves to goats, as they can cause serious health issues, like stomach upset, diarrhea and constipation, organ damage, and even death.

The fact that goats have a unique digestive system adds another layer of complexity to their diet. Goats get bored and love to nibble on many plant varieties as it helps to keep their digestive system healthy. The rhubarb acid interferes with calcium absorption (like cherry leaves), crucial for healthy bone development and milk production in goats. Feed your goats a diet of nutrient-rich hay, green plants, and other appropriate feed sources.


While rhubarb stalks can be a great treat and a source of certain nutrients, like vitamin C and potassium, they should only be given in moderation. As a responsible goat owner, it’s vital to consult with a veterinarian or experienced livestock professional to ensure the safety and well-being of your goats. In our guide, you can learn more about how your goats can eat stalks in small quantities. By the end, you’ll better understand avoiding feeding them any leaves, as the concentration of compounds poses serious health risks to goats. (Read Can Parrots Eat Yogurt)

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb, scientifically known as Rheum rhabarbarum, is a perennial vegetable widely cultivated for its tart, fleshy stalks. It is often used in culinary applications, particularly in desserts and preserves, because of its unique flavor profile. While rhubarb is a plant loved by many, it’s crucial to understand its nutritional composition and potential effects on different animals before introducing it into their diet.

Can Goats Eat Rhubarb Leaves?

One of the primary concerns regarding feeding rhubarb to goats is the leaves of the plant are poisonous. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, a naturally occurring compound toxic to animals, including goats. Eating large numbers of leaves of the plant can lead to a condition known as oxalate poisoning. You see this from symptoms like weakness, tremors, kidney damage, and even death.

Can Goats Eat Rhubarb Stalks?

While the stalks don’t possess the same level of toxicity as the leaves, caution should still be exercised when feeding goats. The stalks are high in this acid and, while less concentrated than leaves, still pose a risk.

While goats can eat rhubarb stalks as they forage and nibble without adverse effects, avoid offering this nightshade family member, as overall, it is poisonous to goats. Others to watch for are sorghum, buckeye, and oleander.

Why Shouldn’t You Give Rhubarb to Goats?

Goats digest, unlike many other animals. It requires a balanced and carefully crafted diet to thrive. Introducing potentially harmful substances, like rhubarb and oxalic content, can disrupt their digestion. Rhubarb is not a natural part of goats’ dietary habits. Goats are known for their grazing behavior, primarily consuming grasses, hay, and certain vegetation types.

Feeding them foods outside their natural diet can cause upset, leading to stomach issues like diarrhea, bloating, and nutritional imbalances.

What Parts of Rhubarb Are Unsafe?

To recap, leaves and stalks contain oxalic acid, which harms goats if ingested in large amounts. It’s very important to note this oxalic concentration varies between parts of the plant. (Read Can Goats Eat Maple Tree Leaves)

How Much Rhubarb Can I Feed To My Goats?

Determining the amount of rhubarb to feed your goats is crucial to avoid potential health risks. While goats are resilient and adaptable, it is recommended to exercise caution when introducing rhubarb into their diet because of its potential toxicity. Limit the intake of rhubarb or avoid it altogether.

Feeding Rhubarb To Goats

What Are The Risks Of Feeding Rhubarb To Goats?

Feeding rhubarb to goats carries risks from the oxalic acid compound; it is naturally occurring and toxic to goats. Goats are herbivores with complex digestive systems that process fibrous vegetation and forage. Introducing foods like rhubarb can disrupt their digestive processes and result in stomach upset, including diarrhea, bloating, and nutrient imbalances.

How Long Does Rhubarb Take To Hurt Goats?

The effects of feeding goats rhubarb vary on several factors, including the quantity consumed and the goat’s overall health. While there is no exact timeframe, the toxic effects of rhubarb can occur quickly.

Upon ingestion, rhubarb can quickly disrupt the calcium balance in a goat’s body. Signs of ingesting these poisonous plants for goats may manifest within a few hours or up to a day after ingestion. It is crucial to monitor your goats closely and seek veterinary help immediately if you suspect they have consumed rhubarb and exhibit any symptoms of this ailment.

What Are The Symptoms Of Rhubarb Poisoning In Goats?

Recognizing the symptoms of when rhubarb has been fed to goats is essential for treatment. Keep a close eye on your goats for the following signs:

1. Weakness and Lethargy

Goats may display weakness and a lack of energy. They may appear sluggish, struggle to stand or move, and are reluctant to engage in everyday activities.

2. Tremors and Muscle Spasms

Irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, and spasms are common symptoms of poisoning. You may notice involuntary muscle contractions, twitching, shaking, or seizure in affected goats in the legs and neck areas.

3. Decreased Appetite

Goats poisoned by the compounds found in rhubarb may exhibit a decreased appetite and show little interest in eating.

4. Kidney Damage

In severe cases, your goat may experience kidney damage. This causes decreased urine production, increased thirst, and changes in urination patterns. Monitor their urine output and consult a vet if needed.

5. Potential Death

If untreated, severe rhubarb poisoning cases can cause the affected goat’s death. Prompt veterinary care is vital to maximize the chances of a successful recovery from this toxin. (Read Can Rabbits Eat Goat Feed)

Goats eating Rhubarb

How to Feed Rhubarb to Goats

Feeding rhubarb to goats requires careful consideration to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are essential guidelines to follow:

1. Rhubarb Quantity

Moderation is vital when raising goats and introducing rhubarb into your goats’ diet. Start offering small amounts and gradually increase the quantity. This gradual approach allows a goat’s digestive system to adjust and minimizes the risk of digestive upset.

2. Preparing rhubarb

Before feeding, it’s essential to prepare it properly. Begin by thoroughly washing the stalks to remove dirt or debris.

Next, discard the leaves and cut the talks into small, manageable pieces to make it easier for the goats to consume.

3. Mixing with Other Foods

Consider mixing rhubarb with other goat-friendly foods to enhance palatability and maintain a well-balanced goat’s diet. This comprises hay, fresh grass, edible shrub leaves, or other vegetables.

Can Goats Eat Cooked Rhubarb?

Don’t feed goats cooked rhubarb. Oxalic dangers are unaffected by heating rhubarb, which softens the stalks for goats to chew. Oxalic remains in cooked rhubarb; therefore, goats should avoid eating extensive amounts.

Are Rhubarbs Healthy for Goats?

Moderately feeding goats rhubarb provides nutrition. Dietary fiber helps avoid constipation and supports healthy digestion. This plant also provides vitamins C and K, calcium, and potassium, which are suitable for goats.

However, goats may get rhubarb’s nutrients from safer, goat-friendly foods. The best approach is to ensure your goat consumes a variety of different antioxidants from leafy greens and electrolytes from water, which can all help combat free radicals and boost the red blood cells.

Even if small parts of this plant are edible, anything green or many types of fresh veggies offer a great source of nutrition when eaten in large quantities by your goats. One overlooked benefit is the medicinal value to your goats’ stomachs. Many a pest or stomach worm can be combated after eating small amounts of the stalks. (Read Can Goats Eat Walnut Leaves)

Is Leftover Rhubarb Good For Goats – Final Thoughts

Given their high oxalic content and potential health dangers, leftover rhubarb leaves shouldn’t be fed to goats.

But when you don’t overfeed and don’t offer any leaves, rhubarb stalks are safe as a healthy addition to their diet. Giving your goats a wide variety of healthy feeding options is essential for ensuring their safety and well-being.

Can Goats Eat Rhubarb

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