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Why Do Goats Eat Bark? (And How to Stop Them)

Why Do Goats Eat Bark? (And How to Stop Them)
The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Taking care of goats as pets has the potential to be a lot of fun. You might think goats are very cute and this is what caused you to want to raise goats.

Some people raise goats for more practical reasons as well. For example, there are many people who keep goats as farm animals so that they can provide the household with milk.

Whatever your reason for keeping goats is, you’re going to notice pretty fast that goats are voracious eaters. They will eat many different things, too.

Sometimes you’ll be surprised by the things that they will choose to eat. If you notice a goat eating bark, then you might really start scratching your head.

Why would a goat choose to eat bark? Keep reading to get more information about goats and why they might eat bark.

Eating Tree Bark Is Not Good

The first thing to know is that it isn’t a good thing for a goat to eat tree bark. You likely suspected that eating tree bark would be bad for a goat’s digestive system.

If a goat continues to eat tree bark, then it’s going to have many problems. You might even need to call a veterinarian if things get too bad.

Since this has the potential to be costly, you’re likely going to want to try to prevent the goat from doing this moving forward. Of course, you’re also likely very concerned about the trees on your property.

You care about your goats, but you also care about the health of your trees. When goats strip trees of their bark, it’s going to make it tougher for them to pass nutrients where they need to go.

If you want the trees to be able to remain healthy, then you need to keep the goats from trying to consume tree bark. It’s also important to protect the goats from making bad decisions that will negatively impact their health.

You know that it’s bad for goats to do this now. Why would goats eat tree bark when it harms them?

Goats Eat Bark Because They Don’t Know Any Better

A Goat Eating Bark from a Tree

Simply put, goats will try to eat just about anything. They aren’t necessarily bright when it comes to picking out things to eat that make sense.

A goat might be hungry and it will choose to start stripping the bark off of a tree. You might come out to the goat pen and realize that one or more of your goats have been eating tree bark.

This is certainly something that’s going to annoy you. You don’t want your trees getting ruined by your goats, after all.

A goat doesn’t have a complex reason for wanting to eat tree bark, though. It’ll simply do it because it’s hungry and it wants to chew on something.

This means that you’ll need to take action to keep your trees safe. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can protect the trees and the goats.

Plant Things That Goats Won’t Eat Around the Trees

To protect the trees, it’s going to be a good idea to plant things that goats won’t eat around them. There are actually quite a few plants that goats know they need to avoid.

If you have these plants all around the trees, then the goats are going to leave them alone. It might seem impractical to do this for every tree in your yard, but you can do it around the trees that are the closest to the goat pen.

Plant things such as nightshade, wild sage grass, salal, and mullein. If the goats do approach these plants, they might nibble on them briefly and then realize they should walk away.

It’s a very simple way to keep the trees from being bothered by your goats. You’ll also be protecting the goats from having to deal with significant digestive issues because of their poor judgment.

You won’t have to spend a ton of time planting things to get this done either. It’s worth the time that it takes to do this when you’re able to protect your trees.

Use Fences to Protect the Trees

Protective Fencing Near Trees

Of course, it makes sense that you could use fences to protect the trees. You might want to ensure that you have tall fences keeping goats from going near heavily wooded areas.

Goats are good jumpers, though, and it might be necessary to install a very tall fence to keep them in line. Many people who keep goats decide to utilize electric fences to keep the goats where they need to be.

You could have multiple layers of fencing in place. Have the goats stay in a fenced area that is meant to serve as their pen, and then place a taller electric fence around the edges of heavily wooded areas.

Another option is to simply place fencing around individual trees to keep goats from being able to reach them. If there is a fence blocking the goat from being able to grab the bark off of the tree, then it won’t be able to eat any of it.

The idea of using individual fences might only be practical if you have just a few trees to protect. If there are many trees on your property, then this might not be an ideal solution.

Cover the Trees with Netting

You could also choose to cover the trees in netting to protect them from having their bark stripped by the goats. The netting makes it so that the goats won’t be able to reach the bark.

If you want to get this idea to work, then you’re going to need to install the netting fairly high up. The netting must go high enough to prevent the goats from being able to climb the tree to reach exposed bark.

Remember that goats are exceptionally good at climbing. If you only place netting around the bottom portions of the tree, then you won’t really be doing that much to protect it.

Wire screen netting should work to get the job done properly. It’s recommended to install this netting on the trees up to 10 feet high.

Taking the time to do this should keep the trees safe from your goats. The goats won’t be able to eat the bark if the netting is in place.

Final Thoughts

You’re going to want to do your best to keep your goats from eating tree bark. Tree bark has the potential to seriously harm your goat by causing it to have significant digestive issues.

Some goats that eat a lot of bark might even wind up needing to go to the veterinarian’s office. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use the advice above to keep things from getting that bad.

The trees are going to need to be protected to keep them in good shape. You can go about doing this in multiple ways.

Try installing fences to keep the goats from being able to reach the trees. You might want to install several fences to force your goats to stay away from wooded areas of your property.

It might help to install fencing around individual trees to keep goats from being able to get to them. This works best if you only have a few trees to worry about on your property.

You could place netting around the tree to keep goats from reaching the bark, too. The netting makes the tree bark inaccessible.

Another option involves planting things that goats don’t like around the trees. Nightshade is one plant option that will be very effective.

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