can goats eat Garry Oak leaves? I had half a tree fall yesterday and there are plenty of green leaves. Also I have a lot of Horse Chestnut are the leaves ok for them? They must be getting sick of all the blackberry leaves they've been eating. I also want to make sure that Poplar leaves are ok. I've read up a bit but the books tend to be in a different location and some of these trees aren't mentioned.
Our property is covered with white and burr oaks, and our goats have eaten the leaves in bud form, when green, and when dried, and they've been fine. There isn't any research on this, and most lists of poisonous plants are simply copied from lists of poisonous plants from horses or cattle, which are more sensitive to toxic plants than goats are. In 13 years with goats and online, the only person I've ever heard who claimed they had a goat get sick from oak leaves said it was a scarlet oak, but the animal was not necropsied, so it could have been something else. If your goats are in an area where they can eat a variety of foods, they don't tend to poison themselves. However, if they rely on you to bring them 100% of their food, there is more of a risk that they'll eat something that they would not otherwise. The only person I've met online who had a goat die from plants was one that ate oleander, which is quite poisonous and has even killed people who used the wood for cooking hot dogs. She said that the goats never touched the oleander as long as the pasture had plenty of other food sources, but when they'd eaten everything else, they started eating the oleander and got sick, and one died.
Our set up has a lot of goat forage, we have masses of blackberries, wild roses, garry oaks, poplar and a few chestnuts - not the kind you can eat but they do have a big nut. There are several varieties of grasses. They mainly browse and I will bring them the occasional apple tree pruning. I just have two goats at present. I had almost bought two "mini" nubians but they were wild and looked sickly - it turned out they had Johnes disease!! good thing I didn't bring them home!
After much research I had decided on the Saanen. I want the Nigerian Dwarves but I think they'd escape too easily and I want to start with unrelated kids around the same age, which has been hard to find. We have pallet fencing which the pygmy leaps up and over then he opens the gate and lets the Saanen out. I chase them back in their pen daily, well "drag" is a better word than "chase" unless I grab a blackberry branch and dangle it in front of them, then they follow pretty readily. Early this morning I was putting blackberry canes sort of like concertina wire along the top of the pallets as a deterrent. We shall see how that works out.
I plan on breeding the Saanen when she goes into heat and slowly build the herd that way, which will mean adding more housing for them. So far I've enjoyed having them, they are quiet and tame and are getting used to us. They seem to really want a human around at all times.