Believe it or not, goats love popcorn! In fact, they’ll eat just about anything. Let’s explore why popcorn is a fantastic snack for goats and alpacas and which types of popcorn to avoid.
Is Popcorn Good for Goats and Alpacas?
As anyone who has had anything to do with these lovable rogues knows: Goats will eat anything, including grandma’s old bloomers from the washing line, if given half the chance!
So the real question is: “Should” goats eat popcorn?
The simple answer is yes, popcorn, as long as it is not coated or salted, is actually an excellent treat for goats. It is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that make it the perfect goaty snack.
Can Alpacas Eat Popcorn?
Yes, Alpacas can eat popcorn.
Here is our full article on Alpacas and popcorn.
Even though goats and alpacas are very different species, they have a very similar constitution, and the information in this article can be equally applied to alpacas as well as goats.
Goats Love Popcorn!
Most goats, just like humans, will go mad for popcorn. If you walk through a goat enclosure with a pocket full of popcorn, you will soon get a lot of followers all nudging at your pocket for a tasty treat.
It is Full of Vitamins and Minerals
Popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks a goat can consume. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, and it’s as good for a goat or an alpaca as it is for a human.
The bulk of popcorn is packed with fiber which aids with digestion, and protein, which is good for muscle development. It is also rich in antioxidants which have a whole range of health benefits.
All this goes to making popcorn an excellent food for both goats and alpacas.
Popcorn is GMO-Free
Unlike most other strains of corn, the corn used to make popcorn does not cross-pollinate with the genetically modified varieties that are present in most animal feeds today.
Popcorn is Good for the Teeth of Goats and Alpacas
Unlike unpopped corn, which can cause a goat’s or alpaca’s teeth to become worn with the grinding action used to break the hard kernels into a digestible paste, popped corn is much softer and will cause much less damage to the teeth of both goats and alpacas.
How Much Popcorn Should I Feed My Goat or Alpaca?
Whilst popcorn is an exceedingly healthy snack, the official guidelines are that corn should make up no more than 50% of your goat or alpacas feed. However, as their natural diet would consist of wild herbs and grasses, the healthiest diet would contain far lower quantities of corn than this.
It is safe to say that if your goats or alpacas are relatively free-range foragers, then popcorn should be given only as a tasty treat and not as a staple part of their diet.
Are There Any Types of Popcorn Not Suitable for Goats or Alpacas?
The only type of popcorn that is safe to feed animals of any kind is air-popped corn with no additives, salts, or sugars.
Fats in Popcorn
Most popcorn is popped using some kind of oil, or butter, neither of which is going to be great for your goat or alpacas’ health long term. Naturally, these things would not be part of their diet, the milk from goats has a far lower fat content than that of a cow, for instance, so it is not at all digestible for them.
Popcorn with salt, even lightly salted corn, is a definite no for goats or alpacas. Whilst salt is essential for all animals, it should be offered to grazing animals in the form of a salt lick that they can access for themselves.
Consuming too much salt in their diet can overburden the kidneys and even lead to kidney failure in older or sick animals.
Sugar or Caramel Coated Popcorn
Sugars in popcorn are equally a no. Refined sugar in an animal’s diet can cause obesity, diabetes, and clogging of the arteries and should be avoided wherever possible.
Preservatives, Colorings, and Flavourings
Many off-the-shelf popcorns contain artificial colors, preservatives, and flavorings that will do no good for your goat or alpaca. Furthermore, as no research into the effects of these things on goats or alpacas has been done, they may even cause a great deal of harm.
It is always best to buy organic popcorn because otherwise, there can be traces of herbicides and pesticides in it, which can have an impact on your goat or alpacas’ health.
What to Do If Your Goat Eats Too Much Popcorn
Oops, they ate the lot!
There is a saying that: goats spend 90% of their waking life planning how to escape and the other 10% escaping, and as we have already said, goats will eat almost anything. So if you are here because your goat or alpaca has already chowed down on more popcorn than you think is good for them: Don’t Panic!
Even if the popcorn contains salts or sugars, one dose is very unlikely to do them any long-term harm.
Give them plenty of fresh water and keep an eye on them. If possible, separate them from the rest of the herd and watch for signs of discomfort.
Always call a veterinarian if you are in any doubt about your animal’s health.
Want to know more about other farmyard animals and popcorn?