Can Goats Eat Rue

A goat eating a rue plant

Goats are natural foragers that enjoy a diverse diet of plants and herbs. One plant that is often considered for goats is rue. While rue is known for its medicinal benefits, many goat owners wonder whether it’s safe for their animals to consume. In this article, we’ll discuss the nutritional benefits of rue, the risks of feeding goats too much rue, and how to properly introduce rue into a goat’s diet. Additionally, we’ll cover alternative herbs and plants for goats to eat, the digestive system of goats, signs and symptoms of poisoning in goats, tips and strategies for treating poisoning, common misconceptions about feeding rue to goats, and how to maintain a balanced diet for your goats.

What is Rue and What are its Nutritional Benefits for Goats?

Rue, also known as Ruta graveolens, is a herbaceous plant known for its pungent odor and bitter taste. It is commonly used in traditional medicine to relieve inflammation, ease pain, and treat various ailments. In terms of nutrition, rue is a good source of vitamins A and C, essential oils, and alkaloids. These compounds can provide various benefits for goats, including improved circulation, digestion, and immune system function. Additionally, rue may help prevent intestinal parasites in goats.

Furthermore, rue has been found to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which can be beneficial for goats suffering from joint pain or other inflammatory conditions. The essential oils in rue can also act as a natural insect repellent, helping to protect goats from pests such as flies and ticks. However, it is important to note that rue should be used in moderation, as excessive consumption can be toxic to goats and other animals.

The Risks of Feeding Goats Too Much Rue

While rue has many potential nutritional benefits for goats, it is important to feed it in moderation. Too much rue can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Some goats may also experience photosensitivity, which can cause the skin to become red, itchy, and inflamed when exposed to sunlight. Additionally, some goats may be allergic to rue and experience allergic reactions.

It is recommended to consult with a veterinarian or animal nutritionist before adding rue to a goat’s diet. They can provide guidance on the appropriate amount to feed and any potential risks based on the individual goat’s health and dietary needs. It is also important to source rue from a reputable supplier to ensure it is free from contaminants and properly dried to prevent mold growth.

How to Properly Introduce Rue into a Goat’s Diet

If you want to feed rue to your goats, it’s essential to introduce it gradually and in small amounts. At first, offer a small amount of rue leaves or flowers, and monitor your goats for any signs of digestive upset or allergic reactions. If your goats tolerate the rue well, you can gradually increase the amount over time. However, never give your goats more than 10% of their overall diet in rue, and always provide plenty of fresh water and other foods to balance their diet.

It’s important to note that rue should not be fed to pregnant or lactating goats, as it can cause uterine contractions and potentially harm the developing fetus or nursing kids. Additionally, if you notice any signs of toxicity, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, immediately remove the rue from your goats’ diet and contact a veterinarian.

While rue can provide some health benefits for goats, such as improving digestion and repelling parasites, it should always be used in moderation and with caution. As with any new food or supplement, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian or experienced goat owner before introducing rue into your goats’ diet.

Alternative Herbs and Plants for Goats to Eat

In addition to rue, there are many other herbs and plants that goats can safely consume. Some of the best options include alfalfa, clover, dandelion, nettle, chicory, and comfrey. These plants provide a variety of essential nutrients and can help support your goats’ overall health and wellbeing. However, it’s important to do your research and ensure that any plants you feed to your goats are safe and non-toxic.

Another great option for goats to eat is raspberry leaves. These leaves are high in antioxidants and can help support the immune system of your goats. Additionally, goats can also safely consume plantain, which is a natural dewormer and can help keep your goats healthy and free of parasites. As always, it’s important to introduce new plants slowly and in small quantities to ensure that your goats tolerate them well.

Understanding the Digestive System of Goats

As ruminants, goats have a unique digestive system that allows them to process tough plant materials. This system is made up of four stomach compartments, each with a specific function in breaking down food. The rumen is the largest compartment and contains billions of bacteria, protozoa, and fungi that help break down cellulose and other complex carbohydrates. The other compartments, including the reticulum, omasum, and abomasum, help further digest the food and absorb nutrients.

It is important to note that the digestive system of goats is highly sensitive and can easily be disrupted by sudden changes in diet. This can lead to digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and even death in severe cases. Therefore, it is crucial to introduce new foods gradually and provide a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

Signs and Symptoms of Poisoning in Goats

If your goats consume toxic plants or herbs, they may experience poisoning. Signs and symptoms of poisoning can vary depending on the type of plant and the severity of the poisoning, but may include diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and even death. If you suspect that your goats have ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately.

It is important to note that some plants may not cause immediate symptoms of poisoning, but can have long-term effects on the health of your goats. For example, consumption of certain plants can lead to liver damage or reproductive issues. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the plants that are toxic to goats and to prevent access to them.

Prevention is key in avoiding poisoning in goats. Ensure that your goats have access to clean water and a balanced diet to prevent them from grazing on toxic plants out of hunger or thirst. Additionally, regularly inspect your pasture and remove any toxic plants that may be growing. By taking these preventative measures, you can help keep your goats healthy and safe from poisoning.

Treating Poisoning in Goats: Tips and Strategies

If your goats experience poisoning, it’s essential to act quickly to minimize the damage. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, your veterinarian may recommend supportive treatments such as intravenous fluids, activated charcoal, or medications to control symptoms. In some cases, your goats may need to be hospitalized for observation and treatment.

It’s important to identify the source of the poisoning to prevent future incidents. Common sources of poisoning in goats include toxic plants, contaminated feed or water, and chemicals such as pesticides or cleaning products. Take steps to remove any potential sources of poisoning from your goat’s environment and ensure that their food and water sources are clean and free from contaminants.

Prevention is key when it comes to poisoning in goats. Regularly inspect your goat’s environment for potential hazards and educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of poisoning. If you suspect that your goats have been exposed to a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance on how to proceed.

Common Misconceptions About Feeding Rue to Goats

There are many myths and misconceptions about feeding rue to goats. Some people believe that rue can prevent or cure diseases, while others believe that it can improve a goat’s reproductive performance. However, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims. While rue may provide some nutritional benefits for goats, it is not a miracle cure or a guaranteed performance enhancer.

One common misconception about feeding rue to goats is that it can be used as a natural dewormer. While rue does contain compounds that have been shown to have some anthelmintic properties, it is not a reliable or effective treatment for internal parasites in goats. In fact, feeding large amounts of rue to goats can be toxic and may cause digestive upset or other health problems.

Another myth about rue is that it can be used to repel flies and other insects. While rue does have a strong odor that some people find unpleasant, there is no evidence to suggest that it has any significant insecticidal properties. In fact, using rue as an insect repellent may actually attract more pests to your goats, as the strong scent can be attractive to some insects.

How to Maintain a Balanced Diet for Your Goats

To ensure that your goats stay healthy and happy, it’s essential to maintain a balanced diet. This means providing them with a variety of foods, including hay, grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as occasional treats like herbs and plants. Additionally, it’s important to monitor your goats’ weight and health regularly and adjust their diet as needed. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your goats thrive and live long, healthy lives.

It’s also important to make sure that your goats have access to clean water at all times. Water is essential for digestion and overall health, and goats can drink up to a gallon of water per day. Make sure to regularly clean and refill their water containers to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease. Providing fresh water will also help keep your goats hydrated, especially during hot weather or when they are producing milk.


In conclusion, rue can provide many nutritional benefits for goats, but it’s important to feed it in moderation and introduce it gradually. Additionally, it’s essential to offer a variety of safe herbs and plants to your goats to support their overall health and wellbeing. By understanding the digestive system of goats, recognizing signs of poisoning, and maintaining a balanced diet, you can help ensure that your goats live happy and healthy lives.

Another important aspect to consider when feeding goats is their water intake. Goats require clean and fresh water at all times, especially when consuming dry feeds like hay and grains. It’s recommended to provide at least one gallon of water per day per goat, and to regularly clean and refill their water containers to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to provide adequate shelter and space for your goats. They need protection from extreme weather conditions, such as heat, cold, wind, and rain. A well-ventilated and dry shelter with enough space for all goats to rest comfortably is essential for their health and wellbeing. Additionally, providing them with an outdoor area to graze and exercise can help prevent boredom and reduce stress.

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