While it may not seem like it to city dwellers, goats are one of the most popular pets in the world. They’re pretty fantastic animals, if you think about it: They make milk and cheese, they’re friendly, and they’ll even mow your grass for you.
Goats have a reputation for eating anything and everything they come across, including cans. But is it true? To find out, let’s look at what goats eat, both in the wild and in captivity.
Where Do Goats Live?
In general, there are two types of goats: domestic goats and wild goats. Wild goats include species such as mountain goats and ibex.
Wild goats generally live in mountainous areas, although they are known to inhabit grasslands as well as forest edges.
The areas in which they live are usually quite inhospitable to most forms of life, including vegetation, so animals must take their food where they can get it. This is probably the reason that they have developed a reputation for eating whatever they can get their hands on.
However, when raised domestically, they can live almost anywhere. All they need is enough to eat and a clean shelter with plenty of ventilation.
The fact that they are so easy to care for may be due to the fact that they are one of the oldest pets on the planet.
What Do Goats Eat in the Wild?
This is a fairly complicated question because there are several different species of wild goats. What’s more, each species lives in a very different part of the world, with different types of foliage available to them.
Goats are total herbivores, and they have four stomach chambers like cows. This allows them to take the time it takes to completely break down plant matter and extract all available nutrients from it.
Their food of choice is grass, and they don’t have to be specific about what type of grass. They may eat mosses, shrubs, and other plants they can find.
Technically, there are two types of herbivores: explorers and grazers. Explorers usually feed on shoots and leaves rather than grass, while grazers feed almost exclusively on grass.
The goat fell somewhere in between. They will eat grass if it is available, but because of the area they live in, often not. As a result, they will eat whatever vegetation they can find. They are “samplers”, as they will taste anything that even looks like food, although they are quite picky about what they will actually consume.
What is the Role of Wild Goats in Their Ecosystem?
Surprisingly, not much research has been dedicated to the role of wild goats in their ecosystem. This is largely due to the fact that the dwellings of these goats are usually steep and difficult to reach and of little value for human purposes.
If anything, goats appear to have a detrimental impact on their environment, at least as far as plant growth is concerned. They can actually damage vegetation, which in turn causes soil erosion, making the area inhospitable for future growth.
However, their ability (and propensity) to eat weeds allows native grasses and shrubs to thrive. What’s more, any crop that is not suitable for goats will have a good chance of thriving, as goats will most likely eliminate all of their natural competition.
What Do Wild Goats Eat?
Part of the reason why goats seem to prefer otherwise inhospitable mountainous areas is that it protects them from predators.
They have no defense mechanisms that can protect them from larger carnivores, so they can (and often are) easy food for bears, wolves, and other predators.
However, goats do have one adaptation that can make them formidable prey: their ability to navigate steep and rocky terrain. They can often outrun other animals on mountain slopes, allowing them to escape easily.
Domesticated goats are also easy prey for predators, especially coyotes, but they are usually well protected by breeders and/or dogs, so they don’t have to handle all of their defense duties themselves.
What Do Goats Eat as Pets?
For the purposes of this question, we are considering every pet goat as a pet, even if it fits the definition of a herd better.
Domesticated goats usually eat grass, grain, or hay. They eat them in large quantities, usually up to 2 to 4 pounds per day.
While they’ll taste just about anything (including trash, cardboard, and yes, cans), they’re picky about what they actually eat. In fact, they will often refuse to eat grass or hay that falls on the floor.
If goats are used to clear land, providing them with additional food may not be necessary as they can get all the nutrients they need from the grass and weeds they eat. In some cities, you can even hire goats to clear weeds and weeds from your property!
However, goats usually don’t get enough nutrients from grass and hay, so they may need to add extra protein, minerals and fiber to their diet.
Next on your reading list:
- Can Goats Swim? Do They Like It?
- Can Goats Eat Bananas? What you need to know!
Can You Eat Goat?
Goats are fun animals, but they can be expensive dates because they can pack a huge amount of food. Despite that, they are surprisingly picky eaters, but when they find something they like, they can literally go to town with it.
You may also want to read:
- Do Goats Make Good Pets? What you need to know!
- Can Goats Eat Tomatoes? What you need to know!
- How Much Does A Goat Cost? (Price Guide 2021)
Featured Image Credit: FitMum, Pixabay