Can Goats Eat Kale? Is Kale Toxic to Goats?

Kale is one of the dark green, leafy vegetables that provide an abundance of nutrients. Kale can provide a range of vitamins, fibers, calcium, iron, and antioxidants.

Goats require all these nutrients for healthy growth.

Can goats eat kale? Is kale toxic to goats?

Goats can eat kale but only in moderation. Kale provides several nutrients but when goats consume large amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables like kale,  it releases goitrogens which are toxic to goats and interfere with thyroid function. So, goats should be fed with a low to moderate amount of kale.

Remember, kale is a highly nutritious vegetable that goats love to eat. Kale, arugula, collard greens, and brussels sprouts are a few vegetables of the cruciferous family. They are easy to grow for and even thrive in gardens or small plots.

So, it becomes easily available to goats. But as goat’s parents, it’s our duty to keep watch on them so that they don’t overeat kale or any other plants that are harmful to them.

Kale brings an abundance of health benefits and provides several nutrients but in excess, it can release goitrogens in goats which causes iodine deficiency.

Generally, goats have a high tolerance to toxins and they can easily digest most vegetable that contains low amounts of toxins but foodstuff with higher toxins will be harmful to goats.

Kale Growing in Garden

Why is kale poisonous to goats?

When fed with an excessive amount, kale becomes poisonous to goats. The excessive amount of kale can damage the red blood cells leading to the goat passing red urine. Too much kale can interfere with thyroid function, so goats should eat kale in a moderate amounts. [source]

Kale is truly a superfood but also has 17 milligrams of oxalate in a hundred grams of kale. Too many oxalates are known to cause kidney stones in goats.

Though the amount of oxalates in kale is low, if goats eat too much kale on regular basis it can be harmful to them.

If your goat eats kale in excessive amount, you should look for urine color. If you found the goat is passing red urine, your best bet is to stop feeding kale and put on forage like grass or hay.

Most cruciferous vegetables have oxalates and can trigger the release of goitrogens. Apart from the kale, the following vegetables fall under the cruciferous family.

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Arugula
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Collards
  • Radishes
  • Watercress

Apart from the goitrogens and oxalates, kale may carry heavy metals like cesium, thallium, cadmium, and arsenic. Not all kale carry these metals, but if the soil where kale is grown contains these metals then kale is going to take it up.

Can goats eat arugula kale?

Goats can safely eat arugula kale in a moderate amount. Arugula is low oxalate green and rich source of micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It helps improve the digestive system and power up the immune system.

Arugula is a leafy green vegetable that has a peppery, slightly bitter taste. It is used in salads, as well as in dishes like pasta and pizza. Arugula is a good choice for goats because it is high in nutrients and easy to digest.

Can goats eat ornamental kale?

Goats can eat ornamental kale in moderate quantities. Ornamental kale is nutritious but less flavorful and safe for goats in moderate quantities. Just make sure goats shouldn’t eat the roots of ornamental kale which is toxic to goats.

Generally, ornamental kale is the same as green kale that we eat and use for culinary purposes but it’s hybridized to look life flower and more colorful.

Often it is grown in gardens and has white, purple, and pink leaves. Ornamental kale is as nutritious as the green one but less flavorful so goats might not eat it.

But if they like to eat it, you can allow them to eat in moderate quantity to avoid possible side effects.

Can goats eat collard greens?

Yes, goats can eat collard greens. They are easy to chew, digest, and a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Nutritional Benefits of Kale for Goats

Kale is termed a superfood for a purpose. I have discussed earlier that we should control feeding kale to goats but it adds several health benefits when given in the right quantity.

Kale is a nutrient-dense vegetable and a rich source of antioxidants like Quercetin & Kaempferol.

A study conducted Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Nutrition and Animal Health found that the quercetin can help improve the body weight, reduce inflammation and risk of laminitis in goats.

Kale adds a good amount of vitamin C in the goats’ diet. With quercetin and other antioxidants, vitamin C can work as a potent anti-oxidant.

Vitamin K is an important factor for the clotting of blood. Generally, goats don’t require supplemental vitamin K but kale comes a potent natural source for vitamin K.

Kale is a good source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Nutritional value of  1 cup of raw kale (source)

Protein2.2 grams
Fat0.5 grams
Fiber1.3 grams
Vitamin C80.4 mg
Vitamin A10302 IU
Vitamin K547 mcg
Folate19.4 mcg
Potassium299 mg
Phosphorous37.5 mg
Omega-3 Fatty Acids121 mg

Even though kale adds several health benefits, it is wise to feed the goat in moderate quantities. If goats graze in the area where kale is grown, you should either protect them from feeding on kale or observe how much they eat.

How to Protect Goats from Eating Kale? To protect goats from eating kale, remove kale altogether or add a fence in such a way that goats could not be able to graze on them.

Overall, kale is a nutritious vegetable when goats feed in a controlled manner but in excessive quantity, it can be harmful and can trigger a few health hazards like thyroid malfunction, red urine, oxalate saturation in the kidney.