Goats are known for eating almost anything, so you may wonder: do goats eat trash? Let’s take a detailed look at the eating habits of goats and find out whether our furry, horned friends like to rummage through the garbage.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: While goats will eat almost anything, they generally avoid eating trash and garbage. Their preferred diet consists of plant materials like grass, hay, leaves, twigs, shrubs, and vegetable scraps.

In this approximately 3000 word guide, we’ll cover whether goats actively seek out and consume trash and garbage, what types of ‘junk food’ goats may eat, reasons why goats avoid most trash, and tips on keeping goats from getting into your garbage.

An Overview of Goats’ Diets

Goats are fascinating animals known for their diverse eating habits. They have a reputation for being voracious eaters and are often associated with eating anything in sight, including trash. While it is true that goats can be opportunistic eaters, their diets primarily consist of plants and vegetation.

Goats as Browsers

One of the key aspects of goats’ eating habits is their role as browsers. Goats are natural browsers, which means they have a strong preference for eating leaves, shoots, and twigs from various plants and trees.

They have a unique ability to reach tall branches and leaves by standing on their hind legs or climbing on objects. This browsing behavior allows goats to forage in areas where other grazing animals may struggle to find food.

Goats as Grazers

In addition to being browsers, goats can also graze on grass and other ground-level vegetation. While they may not be as efficient as traditional grazing animals like cows and sheep, goats can still make use of available grass and herbs.

They use their mobile upper lip and flexible tongue to select and consume the plants they prefer.

Preferred Plants and Vegetation

Goats have specific preferences when it comes to the plants and vegetation they consume. They tend to favor broadleaf plants, shrubs, and trees over grasses. Some examples of plants that goats find particularly appetizing include blackberry bushes, poison ivy, English ivy, and various types of woody plants.

However, it is important to note that not all plants are safe for goats to eat, and some can be toxic to them. It is crucial for goat owners to be knowledgeable about the plants in their surroundings to ensure the safety and health of their goats.

Supplemental Feeding

While goats are well-equipped to find and consume a wide variety of plants and vegetation, they may still require supplemental feeding, particularly in certain situations. This could include times when grazing areas are limited, during winter months when fresh vegetation is scarce, or when goats have specific nutritional needs.

In such cases, goat owners often provide hay, grains, and mineral supplements to ensure their goats receive a balanced diet.

What Type of ‘Trash’ Goats Will Eat

Goats are known for their ability to eat a wide variety of vegetation, but did you know that they can also munch on certain types of “trash”? While it’s important to note that goats should primarily be fed a balanced diet of fresh forage and quality hay, there are certain types of waste materials that they can safely consume.

Vegetable Scraps

One type of “trash” that goats will happily devour is vegetable scraps. Goats are natural browsers and enjoy nibbling on a variety of plants, including the remnants of your kitchen produce. Before feeding them vegetable scraps, it’s important to remove any spoiled or moldy portions, as these can be harmful to the goats’ health.

However, fresh and clean vegetable scraps can be a great addition to their diet, providing them with additional nutrients and fiber.

Paper and Cardboard

Believe it or not, goats can also consume small amounts of paper and cardboard. While this may sound unconventional, goats have a unique digestive system that allows them to break down and process cellulose, the main component of plant cell walls.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the paper and cardboard materials are free of any harmful chemicals, such as ink or adhesives. It’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or a goat nutritionist before introducing unconventional food sources into their diet.

Cans and Plastic

Contrary to popular belief, goats should not be fed cans or plastic. These materials are indigestible and can cause serious health issues if ingested. It’s important to keep your goats’ environment clean and free of any potential hazards, such as loose cans or plastic bags.

If you notice any signs of possible ingestion of these materials, such as drooling or discomfort, it’s crucial to seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Why Goats Generally Avoid Eating Trash

While goats are known for their ability to eat a wide variety of plants, they generally avoid eating trash. This can be attributed to several factors, including their dietary needs and nutrition, their picky eating habits, and the potential health risks associated with consuming trash.

Dietary Needs and Nutrition

Goats have specific dietary needs and require a balanced diet to stay healthy. They are natural herbivores and primarily graze on grass, leaves, and shrubs. These foods provide goats with the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need to thrive.

Trash, on the other hand, does not offer the same nutritional value and can even be harmful to their digestive system.

Trash often contains substances that are toxic to goats, such as chemicals, plastics, and spoiled food. Consuming these items can lead to digestive issues, poisoning, or even death. Goats instinctively avoid eating trash as a way to protect themselves from potential harm.

Picky Eaters

Goats may be known for their ability to eat almost anything, but they can also be surprisingly picky eaters. They have a keen sense of smell and taste, allowing them to detect potential toxins or spoiled food. This natural instinct helps them avoid ingesting harmful substances, including trash.

Additionally, goats have a preference for fresh, green vegetation. They are more likely to seek out and consume plants that are healthy and nutritious. Trash, on the other hand, does not meet these criteria and is generally unappealing to goats.

Health Risks

Consuming trash can have serious health risks for goats. Trash often contains pathogens, bacteria, and parasites that can cause infections and diseases. These can have detrimental effects on a goat’s overall health and well-being.

Furthermore, some items found in trash, such as sharp objects or small pieces of plastic, can pose a choking hazard to goats. Ingesting these items can result in internal injuries or blockages, which may require veterinary intervention.

Tips for Keeping Goats Out of the Trash

Secure Trash Cans and Bins

One of the most effective ways to keep goats out of the trash is by securing your trash cans and bins. Goats are notorious for their ability to open lids and rummage through garbage in search of food. To prevent this, invest in sturdy, animal-proof trash cans or bins with tight-fitting lids.

Consider using bungee cords or locks to further secure the lids. By making it difficult for goats to access the trash, you can minimize the chances of them indulging in their scavenging tendencies.

Pick Up Litter

Goats have a natural curiosity and may be tempted to explore trash that is left scattered around your property. To prevent this, make it a habit to regularly pick up any litter or debris that may attract the attention of your goats.

By keeping your property clean and free of trash, you can discourage goats from engaging in undesirable behavior.

Provide Adequate Forage

While goats have a reputation for eating almost anything, they are less likely to resort to trash consumption if they have access to adequate forage. Ensure that your goats have a nutritious and balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

This includes providing them with plenty of fresh grass, hay, and other vegetation. By satisfying their hunger with suitable forage, you can reduce the likelihood of them turning to trash as an alternative food source.

Remember, goats are intelligent and resourceful animals. It’s important to be proactive in preventing them from accessing trash, as ingesting garbage can be harmful to their health. By implementing these tips and taking the necessary precautions, you can keep your goats out of the trash and promote a clean and safe environment for both your animals and yourself.


While goats are willing to sample many different things, they tend to avoid actual trash and garbage when given the choice. By understanding their nutritional needs, grazing behaviors, and health risks, you can ensure your goats stick to a healthy diet without getting into the junk food.

With some basic precautions, you can keep your goats from raiding the trash bins and enjoy their funny antics as they happily munch on grass and hay instead!

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