Can goats eat cranberries? – A must-read!

Time to read 4 minutes

Goats are browsing for animals, and while they won’t eat just anything (contrary to popular belief), they will eat many kinds of food put in front of them – they’ll take at least one or two bites, of course! But can goats eat cranberries?

It’s no secret that goats love tasty treats. With four stomachs, they are always ready and looking for their next snack – eating a little of this and that though out the day is their nature.

If you had to identify plants and fruits on your farm or homestead that might be harmful to your hoofed friends, could you? How many would you be able to list down? Don’t panic – many pet goat owners couldn’t do it either! 

It’s a good thing we have a growing number of valuable resources available at our fingertips nowadays. Many resources provide information on some plants and vegetables you might grow in your garden that are beneficial and OK for your pet goats to try and some that might be harmful to them if ingested.

Can goats eat cranberries?

Goats need plenty of fiber to maintain optimum gut health. They prefer to eat shrubs and trees rather than grass. They’ll even strip the bark of trees for snacks occasionally.

Besides eating bushes and tree bark, goats also enjoy a bit or two of many kinds of fruits and vegetables, and cranberry is a type of fruit, so can goats eat cranberries? Are there any risks if they are fed with it? What nutritional values do cranberries offer to goats?

What are cranberries?

Before we answer the question about cranberries, it’s essential that we learn just a bit more useful information about them.

Cranberries belong to the family of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines and grow in low, creeping bushes or vines up to 2 m (7 ft) long and 5 to 20 cm (2 to 8 in) tall; they have slender, sturdy stems that are not thickly woody like many other bushy plants.

The fruit is initially light green and turns red when ripe. It is edible, but the intense acidity taste usually overwhelms its sweetness, hence why they’re processed with added sugar.

Because of their hard, sour, bitter texture, about 95% of fresh cranberries are processed and used to make cranberry juice and sauces. They are also sold in dried and sweetened textures for this exact reason. Cranberry juice is often sweetened or mixed with other juices in other to reduce its sour and acidic taste.

Can goats eat cranberries? – The facts

We all are pretty familiar with our thanksgiving dinner because cranberries are traditionally served with roasted turkey as a staple during Thanksgiving, especially if you live in Canada and the United States. We also serve them during English dinners. 

Apart from Thanksgiving dinner use, the berries are also used in baking snacks such as muffins, scones, cakes, bread, etc.; They are also used in making cocktails. Chefs even use cranberries to add a tart flavor to soups and stews in some countries worldwide.

You can freeze fresh cranberry harvests for up to nine months, and they can be used in recipes straight from the freezer without thawing.

On the other hand, dried cranberries are typically heavily processed, up to 10 times their natural sugar content. The drying process also eliminates the vitamin C content.

To revisit the main question, “can goats eat cranberries?” the answer; Yes, goats can eat cranberries. However, just like the saying goes, too much of everything is too bad; therefore, exclusively feeding cranberries to your goat is not OK and will pose many health risks.

Can goats eat cranberries? – The benefits

As long as they eat a healthy, balanced diet, goats can enjoy raisins, tortilla chips, and even a few slices of bread. Feed only a small portion at each snack time. Goats also enjoy chewing on healthy fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, pears, peaches, bananas, grapes, carrots, lettuce, celery, pumpkin, squash, and spinach. Before feeding fruits and vegetables, make sure all pieces are small enough to prevent choking.

Here are some of the benefits of feed cranberries to your goats.

They’re packed with nutrients.

According to Wikipedia, raw cranberries are 87% water, 12% carbohydrate, and little protein and fat. In a reference amount of 100 grams, raw cranberries provide 46 calories and moderate levels of vitamin C, fiber, and the essential dietary mineral manganese, each of which exceeds 10% of their daily value.

Cranberries help cleanse the urinary tract.

Cranberry can effectively prevent UTI in vitro and in vivo in animals by inhibiting the adhesion of urinary tract pathogens, thereby impairing the growth of infections.

They promote gut health.

The presence of dietary fiber in cranberries means they help keep gut health at its optimum level; the same is true for both humans and goats alike.

Further reading on Cranberry benefits

Fresh cranberries are an unusual forage because they grow in only a few areas of the United States and can be used as feed for a short period; However, adding fresh cranberries to the diet of ruminants may be beneficial to goats in general.

Research on feeding cranberries to ruminants is limited. However, in Massachusetts, digestibility trials were conducted with sheep-fed cranberry cake, a residue of juice production. They found that feeding more than 12.5% cranberry cake to sheep feed reduced digestibility. 

Total digestible nutrients (energy) were calculated to be about 60%. USDA tables indicate the energy content is about the same as raw citrus fruit. California milk producers successfully feed 20 to 30 pounds of fresh citrus fruit per day. However, citrus is only fed in season, not preserved, and is offered free to feeders. 

Although experience with feeding cranberries to goats is limited; However, after seeing the results from feeding cranberries to cows and sheep, many scholars agree that feeding them to goats will offer similar benefits. 

Can goats eat Cranberries? – The Conclusion:

We can see that feeding cranberries to goats are safe, still, moderation is required. So go ahead and make your goat a happy “bah-ing” pet!

Sources

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranberry
  • https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/intestinal-diseases-in-ruminants/intestinal-diseases-in-sheep-and-goats
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19441868/

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