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Toxic Plants for Goats Expand / Collapse
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Posted 6/9/2008 8:22:32 AM
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Just when I think I know what I'm doing I get new info and have to go back to the drawing board.  I was reading my new goat magazine (purchased from Hobby Farms) and it says that choke cherries are a toxic plant to goats.  Of course the tree stand on my property has lots of them...is this really a risk?  I also saw somewhere that rhubarb is and that doesn't surprise me and I can just plant them elsewhere but the choke cherry thing has me a bit stumped.  Advice please.  Thanks.  Mary Ann
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Posted 6/9/2008 3:06:18 PM
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Hi,  I have goats also.  I live in TX. 

I found this website to be helpful.  Your state may have a website also.

http://texnat.tamu.edu/cmplants/toxic/index.htm

Elizabeth

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Posted 6/10/2008 9:23:21 AM


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mystnd (6/9/2008)
Just when I think I know what I'm doing I get new info and have to go back to the drawing board.  I was reading my new goat magazine (purchased from Hobby Farms) and it says that choke cherries are a toxic plant to goats.  Of course the tree stand on my property has lots of them...is this really a risk?  I also saw somewhere that rhubarb is and that doesn't surprise me and I can just plant them elsewhere but the choke cherry thing has me a bit stumped.  Advice please.  Thanks.  Mary Ann

Hi Mary Ann,

I had the same problem with choke cherries and pin cherries when we lived in Minnesota--our woods was full of them! What I learned was that the poisonous part is the tree's wilted leaves, as when a branch is broken off and the leaves on that branch wilt. Fresh leaves, bark, cherries and so forth are reasonably okay. So, we lopped off our tress' lower branches so nothing could stand on its hind legs to pull a branch down and possibly break it off--and we also patroled the trees after high winds swept through in case any branches were broken off that way. Worked for 22 years. :o)

Sometimes you have to live with poisonous/toxic plants because there are just too many to eradicate. Besides wild cherries, we had water hemlock in our low land and big patches of bracken fern. After two years of dedicated chopping and pulling, I gave up trying to get rid of it. The trick is keeping your animals well fed so they aren't tempted to nibble bad-tasting stuff (and many toxic and poisonous plants are bitter or acrid).

Here are some resources to check out:

Poisonous Plants and the Goat Herd (this is especially useful) www.sweetlix.com/user_files/File/articles/Goat_016.pdf

Plants Known to be Toxic to Goats www.goatworld.com/health/plants

Plants Poisonous to Goats http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/goatlist.html

And this will take you to a page of links to state-specific livestock poisons pages. It's very comprehensive! www.sheepandgoat.com/poison.html

I hope this helps. :o)

Sue

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Posted 6/10/2008 10:59:19 AM
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Thanks for the feedback.  In one of the websites, it explains that it's toxic to them because they are ruminants which is why the deer and horses can snack on them without problems.  Of course, what it actually means is that I fenced in the wrong section....I fenced in my yard to start; thinking that next year I would fence in the other area where there are not trees.  Oh well!!  So perhaps I will only have to exercise extreme care this year.  Mary Ann
Post #1440
Posted 6/12/2008 7:24:10 AM
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mystnd (6/10/2008)
Thanks for the feedback.  In one of the websites, it explains that it's toxic to them because they are ruminants which is why the deer and horses can snack on them without problems.  Of course, what it actually means is that I fenced in the wrong section....I fenced in my yard to start; thinking that next year I would fence in the other area where there are not trees.  Oh well!!  So perhaps I will only have to exercise extreme care this year.  Mary Ann

This shows how you have to be so careful when you're relying on information from the internet. Deer ARE ALSO ruminants, so in that respect, goats would be sensitive to the same things. Any of those toxic plant lists are a good starting point, but they have some very serious, and sometimes dangerous limitations. First, they are all different. Some list species as safe, while others claim they are toxic. Sometimes they completely contradict one another. Which is right? Some list only plants which are highly dangerous, others list every plant which could possibly cause the slightest reaction in any species. There are so many variables to consider, such as amount ingested, part of plant eaten, time of year it's eaten, growth stage of plant, species eating it, etc. Sometimes what is toxic in one animal species, is fine, or even beneficial to another. Most confusing of all is when the lists use vague terms, such as wild cherry, choke cherry, or just cherry. Those terms mean different things to different people, or vary depending on what part of the country you're in. The best way would be to identify the exact species of plant by it's proper scientific name, but that's seldom done.

Sue's advice is very good. Keep them them well fed. If you have a small area, eliminate anything that you think is toxic. If it's an adequate grazing pasture, ensure that you have lots of other proper graze, eliminate known highly dangerous plants, and usually they'll avoid most other toxic plants, at least in amounts that would cause them harm.

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