raising goats...are poke salad purple berries poisonous?

welsch(atlanta)July 19, 2005

I have two new goats....they are exploring their new world....they are eatingthe leaves of the poke salad and they are fine but those plants put out a berry that I was told is poisonous..... is it poisonous to them or just to humans.........this wasn't on the list of poisonous plants as far as I know?


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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

My goats won't touch any park of pokeweed once they've grown up. It's one noxious weed they won't control. Here's a quote from "Poisonous Plants" from the National Agricultural Library, and a link to the entire document.

Mayapple, bloodroot, pokeweed, nightshade and hellebore are other alkaloidal plants. They are rarely eaten except when animals are starving for better feed. Deaths from alkaloidal plants usually result from severe digestive disturbances, pain and nervous symptoms. Animals usually die in convulsions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Poisonous Plants, Extension Goat Handbook

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:26AM
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From what I understand, all parts of pokeweed are poisonous to livestock.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 1:55PM
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It is poke sallet not salad and it is edible when it first arises from the earth but once the plant starts takin' on the red coloring of the adult plant it is inedible. Eatting seeds is a good way to get very sick if not die outright.
Poke sallet is a tuberous plant. If possible dig'em out and discard. Oh and the tuber is poisonous also.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 6:09PM
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lgslgs(z6 SE ohio)

Mine will eat poke weed at certain times of the year. They have a big forage area (8 goats on 15 overgrown acres, so it's not like they are short of other choices. They usually go for fully ripe poke berries late in the year, and at that time everyone comes home for the night looking like they are wearing magenta lipstick and nail polish. The rest of the year they ignore the plant.

Just my opinion, but I think that the toxicity (and flavor) of a lot of plant vary through the growing season. The goats won't even nip gourd tendrils growing through the fence this time of year, but they level them as soon as they've been singed by a frost. Our goats routinely dine on plants on the "toxic" lists, but also routinely ignore them during othe times of the year. I think they can tell a lot by taste, and as long as they have an abundance of alternative choices (a situation that most goats don't have access to) they don't over indulge in plants that are potentially harmful.

All bets are off, though, if you've got hungry goats on a diet with limited variety, and the noxious plant is the biggest, greenest, and most intersting looking plant in thier line of vision. I do believe that's how most animals get in trouble with plant poisoning. I'd also think about this very differently if we had them in a well-grazed pasture or if they lived mainly on "procesed food" (hay or feed.)


    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 8:13AM
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I totally agree with Lynda. Goatherds here (often the "grandma" of the family) take their goats for a walk every afternoon and wander the countryside for a few hours - they are housed the rest of the time. Pokeweed is reasonably common and eaten by some of the goats, apparently without ill effects, otherwise they would not be permitted to eat it. Control of these animals is by voice, and they are better trained than most dogs I have seen. It amuses me to see two ladies come together with their goats (sheep too sometimes) have a chat and then go on their separate ways with their own flocks following them after a few quick repeats of "anda" meaning walk. I have a lot of animal experience but have never had stock, except the occasional border collie or horse, that could be expected to follow me after such an encounter. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 5:50PM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

A gate was accidentally left open just the other day and a few goats got into the yard for a minute. They have 80 acres of pasture, brush, and woodland to browse, plus they each get a pound of sweetfeed and alfalfa pellets every evening to make sure they come home on time, plus minerals and salt. So, they're not hungry, but they are perennially curious.

They heavily pruned a couple of roses and a rhododendron before being chased back out the gate, and one of them ended up in obvious distress and scoured for 24 hours, but recovered. Maybe she learned not to eat rhododendron again, maybe she didn't, but she sure didn't have the sense to avoid it the first time, and the taste didn't tip her off.

I'd agree that goats can eat quite a few toxic plants that other livestock can't, but they can still make some inappropriate choices on occasion.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 12:04AM
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Thank you for all the helpful info.....I decided to just cut it down for this season. The momma goat and her little billy have a variety of browse to eat and the momma goat ate most of it without any noticeable effects....but to be on the safe side they can just eat the other stuff.

They get a helping of goat ration and sweet feed in the morning and again in the evening....then browse in the yard which is quite grown up.

As a new owner I thought they would drink more water....I provide clean water both outside and in the barn. It is 90 degrees or better here in atlanta and they barely touch the stuff. I have provided a salt block for them but it doesn't seem to be used very much.

We have only had them about 10-11 days so we have been keeping avery close watch on them to see them adjust.

We have gotten them to eat out of our hands and my 6 and 8 year olds are loving it! They haven't gotten to the point where we can handle them much....i.e. petting etc.

Thanks again......John

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 11:07AM
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