Can Goats Eat Corn

When Can Goats Eat Corn: Best Answers

If you’re wanting to better understand feeding and offering your goats corn, including: why corn isn’t the best food for goats, how it affects goats’ digestion, and all of corn’s health benefits and risks, you’ve come to the right place. 

We do not offer our goats corn often, technically, goats can eat small quantities of corn without too much trouble. 

There are very good reasons why we closely monitor the quantity of corn our herd eats, all of which we will go over below; let’s get started! 

Corn: A Complicated Ruminant Food

It is common practice to feed ruminant livestock, especially cattle, corn. Corn is a specifically starchy seed, many kernels contain upwards of 90% carbohydrates! 

This is quite a lot of starch for any ruminant, especially for goats. 

Remember, goats are natural foragers and have evolved on foraged, fibrous green foodstuff that is rich in cellulose…this is why hay is such an ideal food for goats!

Cellulose is a tough plant fiber that goats are able to easily digest in high quantities. Not many other animals can boast this capacity! 

Plus, goats have developed the ability to harvest an incredible amount of nutrients and energy from cellulose, thanks to the amazing symbiotic bacterias within their rumen. 

These rumen bacterias convert all carbohydrates the goat eats into volatile fatty acids (a.k.a energy). 

Now, because of the very high amount of carbohydrates within corn, it is an energy dense food, but it lacks many other important nutrients that goats require. 

For example: fiber. Corn contains about 7g of fiber per 100g serving. This simply is not enough fiber per mouthful for goats, who require up to 80% of their diet to be dense fiber nutrient. 

Fast Fact: Corn can be considered a grain rather than a vegetable (the designation depends on when the corn is harvested). 

And as we discuss in our post on rice for goats, grains are far from an ideal food for your herd. 

In fact, studies have been done on ruminant digestive systems and corn, finding that high starch foods change the chemistry of the ruminant’s digestive system and can lead to a number of illnesses and diseases. 

Not only does corn lack much nutritional value for goats, but it also puts their delicate digestive symbiosis at risk! 

Learn more about the goat’s four stomach digestive system here

Is Corn Safe For Goats To Eat – Can Goats Have Corn, Corn Husks, Corn Cobs, Corn Stalks, Corn On the Cob?

So, must corn be avoided at all costs? 

Not necessarily, while too much corn is a big no-no, this foodstuff can be a helpful dietary supplement for your goats, depending on life stage. 

For example, milk yield in goats increases with a high starch diet. 

So offering your lactating nannies some fresh corn isn’t the worst idea; just be sure to keep their primary diet fibrous hay and foraged foodstuff. 

What Happens If A Goat Eats Too Much Corn

If your goats eat too much corn they are likely to experience acidosis, or grain poisoning. 

Acidosis results when the pH of the rumen drops due to rapid fermentation of carbohydrates from corn and other grains. This quickly leads to digestive backup, dehydration, and even death.

Overfeeding your goats corn is a serious risk!  

How Much Corn Can Goats Have – Is Corn Bad For Goats

We never allow corn to be anything more than a snack or treat for our goats, staying well below 20% of their diet.

However, some farmers suggest allowing corn to be up to 50% of your goats’ diet, especially if you have milking nannies. 

We encourage you to think about the overall health and longevity of your goats when considering how much corn you will offer them.  

Can I Give My Goats Whole Corn

Yes, goats can eat whole fresh ears of raw corn without issue. Raw, fresh corn is the best form of corn to give to goats, as it is much more digestible than dried corn. 

Cracked Corn Vs. Whole Corn For Goats

Dried corn is a bit of a different matter for goats. 

If you choose to feed your goats dried corn, we suggest cracked corn, which is almost 10% more digestible than the whole kernel. 

Feeding your goats whole, dried corn kernel can complicate the digestive process and may result in injured jaws or cracked teeth!

Can Goats Eat Corn Husks And Silk

Yes, you can allow your goats to nibble and gnaw on corn husks and silk. 

But these parts of the corn fruit, as well as any leftover kernels, should be removed at day’s end  as corn is quick to rot and may attract unwanted visitors!  

So Can Baby Goats Eat Corn

Because corn has the ability to significantly alter the pH of your goat’s rumen, never feed adolescent or baby goats corn.

Wait until your goat is eating a 100% foraged food and hay diet before introducing them to any form of corn or grain. 

Even then, you can help avoid acidosis by slow and gradual introduction of corn; don’t rush your goats! 

Do Goats Like Raw Corn?

Raw corn contains the most readily available nutrients and water for goats and is the best form of the fruit for them. While dried corn can be hard on their teeth, fresh, raw corn is soft and palatable. 

Can Goats Have Corn On The Cob?

If your family is preparing corn on the cob, you can feel okay about offering one or two raw cobs to your goats. Just be sure they are uncooked and unseasoned!  

Final Thoughts On Can Goats Eat Corn

Fresh, raw corn is a safe option for your goats as a snack or seasonal treat. 

But we do not recommend offering this food often, as the natural gut imbalances it creates in goats’ rumens are serious and simply not worth the pain and struggle! 

For this reason, we rarely if ever give our goats corn. We opt instead for unlimited hay and yummy snacks and treats that pose no serious digestive risks, such as cucumbers and yellow squash. 

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