Can Goats Eat Corn Husks? Exploring the Feeding Habits of Goats

When it comes to the dietary preferences of goats, it’s important to consider what they can and cannot eat. One common question that arises is whether goats can consume corn husks and corn cobs. Let’s delve into this topic and shed some light on the matter.

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Can Goats Eat Corn Husks?

Yes, goats can eat corn husks. These fibrous outer coverings of corn kernels are generally safe for goats to consume. Goats have a unique digestive system that enables them to break down and process a wide range of plant materials, including corn husks.

However, it’s important to note that while goats can eat corn husks, they should be fed in moderation as a part of a balanced diet.

Understanding the Nutritional Value of Corn Husks

Before determining whether goats can eat corn husks, it’s essential to understand the nutritional composition of this plant part. Corn husks, or corn leaves or sheaths, are the outer covering of corn ears. While they are not typically consumed by humans, they can serve as a source of fiber for certain animals.

Corn husks contain cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, which are indigestible by humans due to our limited ability to break down fiber. However, goats have a unique digestive system that allows them to extract nutrition from fibrous plant material.

Potential Benefits of Feeding Corn Husks to Goats

Including corn husks in a goat’s diet can have several benefits. Here are some potential advantages:

1. Fiber Content:

Corn husks are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Introducing fiber-rich food like corn husks can aid in maintaining a healthy digestive system in goats.

2. Environmental Enrichment:

Goats are curious animals, and providing them with various vegetation types, including corn husks, can serve as environmental enrichment. It allows them to engage in natural foraging behaviors, keeping them mentally stimulated and content.

3. Cost-Effective Feed Option:

Corn husks can be a cost-effective addition to a goat’s diet, especially if they are available abundantly in your locality. It can supplement their nutritional needs without breaking the bank.

Guidelines for Feeding Corn Husks to Goats

While corn husks can be beneficial for goats, it’s essential to follow these guidelines for safe and appropriate feeding:

1. Freshness and Quality:

Ensure that the corn husks are fresh and free from mold or rot. Moldy corn husks can lead to digestive issues and pose health risks to goats. Choose high-quality corn husks to ensure the well-being of your goats.

2. Moderation:

Feed corn husks to goats in moderation. As mentioned earlier, corn husks should not replace the primary components of their diet. Offer corn husks as a supplemental treat rather than a staple food source.

Read more: What Happens if You Overfeed a Goat: Stop the Bloat

3. Variety in Diet:

Remember to provide a diverse diet for your goats. Alongside corn husks, include other forage, grasses, vegetation, and even treats to ensure they receive a well-rounded nutritional intake.

Can Goats Eat the Cob from Corn?

Goats can nibble on the cob from corn, but it’s essential to exercise caution. The cob is the hard, central part of the corn ear that holds the kernels together. While goats may attempt to chew on the cob, it is not easily digestible and can pose a choking hazard. It’s best to remove the corn kernels from the cob before offering them to goats as a treat.

Do Any Animals Eat Corn Husks?

Corn husks are consumed not only by goats but also by various other animals. In certain cultures, corn husks are used as animal feed. Animals such as cattle, horses, and pigs can also consume corn husks to some extent. However, it’s crucial to consider each animal’s specific dietary needs and digestive capabilities when incorporating corn husks into their diet.

What Should You Not Feed Goats?

While goats are generally known for their broad appetite, there are certain foods that should be avoided. It’s essential to steer clear of toxic or harmful substances that can adversely affect a goat’s health. Some examples of foods that should not be fed to goats include:

  1. Avocado: Goats should never be given avocado, as it contains a toxin called persin, which can be fatal to them.
  2. Chocolate: Just like dogs, goats should not be given chocolate, as it can be toxic to their system.
  3. Onions and Garlic: These foods can cause anemia in goats and should be avoided.
  4. Rhubarb: The leaves of rhubarb contain oxalates, which are harmful to goats.
  5. Lawn Clippings: Freshly cut lawn clippings can ferment quickly and lead to bloating in goats. It’s better to avoid feeding them.

Will Goats Eat Cornstalk Hay?

Yes, goats can eat cornstalk hay. Cornstalks provide roughage and fiber, which can be beneficial for goats’ digestive health. However, it’s important to ensure that the cornstalks are properly dried and stored to prevent the growth of molds, which can be harmful to goats. Additionally, cornstalk hay should be offered in moderation along with other suitable forages to maintain a balanced diet.

Read more: Can Goats Eat Timothy Hay? A Comprehensive Guide for Goat Owners


In conclusion, goats can safely consume corn husks, but the cob should be removed to avoid potential choking hazards. While goats have a diverse palate, certain foods like avocado, chocolate, onions, and rhubarb should be avoided as they can be toxic. Cornstalk hay can be a nutritious addition to a goat’s diet when properly prepared and offered in moderation.

As the great poet Robert Frost once said,

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”

Let us remember to provide our goat friends with the appropriate and nourishing food they need to thrive.

Before significantly changing your goat’s diet, thoroughly research and consult with a veterinarian or animal nutritionist.

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