Do Goats Eat Briars

Do Goats Eat Briars? (Truth Unveiled!)

When it comes to herbivores, goats are true champions of versatility.

These charming creatures have a remarkable ability to adapt their diet to a wide range of vegetation, making them excellent foragers in various environments.

From munching on grasses to devouring leaves and even twigs, goats have a reputation for being consummate plant connoisseurs.

Now, let’s delve into the intriguing question at hand: Do goats eat briars? 

Yes, goats can eat briars, including plants like blackberry brambles and green briar. Goats are well-equipped to browse and consume thorny vegetation due to their tough mouths and specialized digestive systems. 

As someone who has briars all over my farm, I found it important to do comprehensive research on the potential benefits and risks of briars to my goats.

Read on to discover what I found!

Do Goats Eat Briars (Key Takeaways)

  • Goats can eat briars, including plants like blackberry brambles and green briar.
  • Goats are equipped with tough mouths and specialized digestive systems that allow them to consume thorny vegetation.
  • While goats may not actively seek out briars, they are known to eat them if they are available in their grazing areas.
  • Goats’ browsing behavior makes them effective at managing briar patches and controlling their growth.
  • Ensure that the briar plants are free from pesticides or herbicides before allowing goats to graze on them.
  • Monitor goats closely for any adverse reactions or injuries that may occur from consuming thorny plants.
  • It’s important to provide a diverse forage mix and access to other suitable vegetation along with briars to meet goats’ nutritional needs.

What To Feed Goats

Here’s a comprehensive table showing what you can and cannot feed goats:

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Please note that not all plants that goats can’t eat are included in this list, and the same applies for plants they can eat. Also, the toxicity level of some plants can vary, and some are only harmful in large quantities or certain parts of the plant. Always consult with a vet or a goat expert if you are unsure about a particular plant or food.

Understanding Goats’ Diet

Can Goats Eat Grapefruit

When it comes to food, goats are pretty open-minded. They have a diverse palate and can adapt to different environments, making them valuable herbivores.

Goats are considered browsers, which means they prefer browsing on shrubs, trees, and other woody vegetation rather than grazing on grass like their bovine counterparts.

This makes them particularly suited for areas with dense vegetation or rough terrains where grass is scarce.

One interesting adaptation of goats is their unique digestive system.

They have a four-chambered stomach that allows them to efficiently extract nutrients from various types of plant material.

Their first chamber, the rumen, serves as a fermentation vat where plant fibers are broken down by specialized microorganisms before further digestion takes place in the other chambers.

This adaptation enables goats to extract maximum nutrition from even fibrous plants.

Grazing Habits and Foraging Behavior

When it comes to grazing habits, goats have an innate curiosity and will sample a wide range of plants within their reach.

They are highly selective eaters and often exhibit preference towards certain plants over others based on taste and nutritional content.

Goats also possess remarkable agility and climbing skills which allow them to access vegetation at higher elevations compared to other herbivores.

Their nimbleness enables them to browse on shrubs and trees that may be inaccessible to larger animals.

Moreover, foraging behavior varies depending on the goat breed and individual preferences.

Some goats may prefer browsing while others show more inclination towards grazing if given the choice.

Honestly speaking, I find it fascinating how these adaptable creatures can adjust their feeding strategies based on the surrounding environment. 

So, Do Goats Eat Briars?

Now let’s address the crucial query—do goats eat briars? Well, you might be surprised to learn that goats indeed do eat briars!

While they may not consider briars a delicacy like some luscious grasses, goats have developed adaptations that allow them to tackle even the most thorny of plants.

You may be wondering: Why would a goat intentionally choose to dine on prickly vegetation?

For starters, goats possess a unique lip structure that allows them to grab plant material with precision.

Their lips are incredibly flexible and dexterous, enabling them to selectively browse and avoid thorns whenever possible.

Additionally, their tough mouths and specialized dental pad behind their front teeth assist in managing the spikiness of briars.

However, it’s important to note that not all goats will eagerly devour briars. Preferences can vary among different goat breeds and even individual animals.

In my case, some of my goats show a higher tolerance for thorns while others are more particular about their food choices.

Now that we have established these fascinating facts about goats as herbivores and piqued your curiosity regarding their relationship with briars, let’s dive deeper into understanding these prickly plants themselves.

Briars: What Are They?

Do Goats Eat Briars
Source: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station


When we think of briars, images of tangled, thorny plants often come to mind. But what exactly are briars?

Well, in simple terms, briars refer to any type of thorny or prickly plant that can form dense, impenetrable thickets.

These woody shrubs or vines are known for their tenacity and ability to thrive in various environments.

The Characteristics of Briars

Briars boast some distinct characteristics that set them apart from other plants. The most notable feature is their formidable arsenal of thorns and prickles.

These sharp defenses act as a deterrent against grazing animals and help the plants secure their space in the wild.

Briar thorns can range from short and fine to long and menacing, making them quite difficult to navigate without protection.

In addition to their thorny nature, briars often exhibit vigorous growth patterns, allowing them to spread rapidly across landscapes.

They possess a remarkable ability to regenerate even when cut back or damaged, ensuring their survival under harsh conditions.

Their hardy nature enables them to thrive in diverse habitats such as forests, fields, rocky terrains, and even urban areas.

Common Types of Briars

There is a diverse array of briar species found globally, each with its own unique characteristics and preferred habitats.

Let’s explore a few common types:

 Rosa multiflora:

The multiflora rose is an invasive species native to Asia that has established itself in many parts of North America.

Known for its profusion of small white flowers and distinctive fragrance, this vine-like climber can quickly conquer open spaces with its aggressive growth habit.


A genus comprising numerous species, smilax briars are infamous for their long, thorny vines that can form tangled thickets.

Commonly referred to as greenbrier or catbrier, these plants produce small clusters of flowers and often bear edible berries. 

Blackberry (Rubus spp.):

The blackberry is a well-known briar that yields delicious and juicy fruits.

With arching canes armed with thorns and deeply lobed leaves, this plant thrives in temperate regions worldwide and comes in various species.

These examples barely scratch the surface of the diverse world of briars.

From raspberries to brambles and wild roses to barberries, each variety brings its own unique charm and challenges when it comes to grazing animals like goats.

Goats’ Relationship with Briars

When it comes to their eating habits, goats have a natural affinity for browsing on woody vegetation, and briars are no exception.

These sturdy, thorny plants have an allure that seems to entice goats to sample their prickly offerings.

It’s as if they possess an inherent understanding of the nutritional and survival benefits that lie within these seemingly inhospitable plants.

While other herbivores may shy away from the painful experience of tackling briars head-on, goats fearlessly venture into these tangled thickets in search of nourishment.

Adaptations that enable goats to consume thorny plants

Goats are remarkably adaptable creatures, equipped with several physical and behavioral adaptations that allow them to tackle even the most formidable of flora.

One such adaptation is their specialized digestive system.

Goats possess a unique four-chambered stomach which aids in the breakdown of plant material through fermentation processes.

This enables them to efficiently extract nutrients from tough vegetation like briars.

Furthermore, their nimble lips and agile tongues play a crucial role in handling thorny plants.

Goats have a remarkable ability to selectively browse on specific parts of the briar while avoiding the sharp spines as much as possible.

Their dexterous lips can deftly grasp individual leaves or tender shoots while simultaneously avoiding direct contact with the thorns.

Moreover, their saliva contains enzymes that help alleviate any discomfort caused by thorns and provide protection against potential infections.

Goats not only possess an innate inclination towards woody vegetation but also demonstrate remarkable adaptations that enable them to consume thorny plants like briars with relative ease.

Their natural browsing behavior combined with their specialized digestive system and adept handling skills makes them exceptionally suited for tackling this prickly challenge head-on.

The Nutritional Value of Briars for Goats

Do Goats Eat Briars

When it comes to the nutritional content of briars, these prickly wonders have more to offer than meets the eye.

While they may appear as pesky thorns to us, goats see them as a delectable treat. Briars are packed with essential nutrients that can benefit goats in various ways.

These tenacious plants often contain high levels of fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes healthy gut function.

Additionally, briars boast a range of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, and potassium – all vital components for maintaining a goat’s overall well-being.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Incorporating briars into a goat’s diet comes with both advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully considered.

On one hand, these thorny morsels provide goats with an additional source of nutrition beyond their regular forage.

The fibrous nature of briars helps promote proper rumen function by stimulating microbial activity in the digestive system.

This can lead to improved nutrient absorption and overall health in goats.

However, it is important to note that excessive consumption of briars may have some downsides as well.

Due to their high fiber content, overindulgence can result in gastrointestinal issues such as bloating or diarrhea if not introduced gradually into the goat’s diet.

Additionally, some species of briars may possess compounds that could be harmful when consumed excessively or by certain breeds of goats.

Therefore, it is crucial for goat owners to carefully monitor their animals’ intake and gradually introduce briars into their diet under professional guidance.

Factors Influencing Goats’ Consumption of Briars

1. Environmental factors affecting availability and palatability

When it comes to goats and their affinity for munching on briars, environmental factors play a significant role.

Availability and palatability are the key factors that influence goats’ consumption of briars in their natural habitat.

Briars are abundant on my farm and therefore, my goats are more likely to come across them and indulge in a prickly feast.

These spiky plants act as an all-you-can-eat buffet for our four-legged friends.

However, availability alone is not enough to determine whether goats will gobble up those thorny treats.

Palatability also comes into play, as some varieties of briars may be more appealing than others.

For instance, goats tend to prefer younger plants with tender shoots and leaves rather than mature or dried out ones.

Additionally, the presence of other nutritious plant species might influence their choices as well.

If there are alternative food sources available that offer better nutrition or taste, goats may opt for those instead of feasting on the less appetizing briars.

2. Goat breed preferences and individual variation

Just like humans have different tastes when it comes to food, goat breeds also exhibit unique preferences when faced with a buffet of briars.

While some goat breeds might find certain types of briars irresistible, others may turn up their snouts at them in disdain.

The individual variation within each breed can further complicate matters – what one goat finds delectable might not appeal to its barn mate at all.

Goat breeders often observe these differences firsthand in their herds.

Some breeds like the Nigerian Dwarf or Alpine tend to have a higher tolerance for eating thorny plants compared to more selective eaters like LaManchas or Saanens.

However, it’s essential to note that individual goats within a breed can vary in their preferences.

This means that while one Nigerian Dwarf might devour briars with enthusiasm, another may not touch them at all.

The idiosyncrasies of goat taste buds are intriguing and add an element of unpredictability to their dining choices.

So, when it comes to goats and their relationship with briars, both breed preferences and individual variation contribute to the overall consumption patterns observed in these curious creatures.

Goat-Briar Interaction: Case Studies

In the vast realm of goat keeping, numerous anecdotes and observations provide compelling evidence of goats’ affinity for devouring briars.

From rural homesteads to expansive pastures, goat owners and herders have witnessed these curious creatures munching away on thorny vegetation with remarkable gusto.

Take, for example, the case of Old Macdonald’s Farm located on the outskirts of a small village in Vermont.

There, a group of Nigerian Dwarf goats was introduced to a section of land densely populated by various types of briars.

Despite their petite stature, these feisty little ruminants demonstrated an extraordinary appetite for these prickly plants.

The diligent staff at Old Macdonald’s Farm meticulously documented the goats’ browsing behavior over several months, noting how they selectively nibbled on the tender buds and leaves while skillfully avoiding the sharp thorns.

This observation sparked further interest among researchers and enthusiasts alike in understanding this peculiar relationship between goats and their thorny counterparts.

For my friend Jenny, who resides in rural Texas, her beloved Saanen doe named Daisy became quite notorious for her unyielding love affair with blackberry canes that grew near their pasture fence line.

Jenny recalls countless episodes where Daisy skillfully maneuvered her way through the prickly maze without hesitation or discomfort, relishing each bite as if it were a gourmet delicacy carefully curated exclusively for her discerning palate.

These instances illustrate just how intimately intertwined goats and briars can become in their daily lives.

Whether it is the Nigerian Dwarf goats of Vermont or Daisy the Saanen doe in Texas, these case studies provide valuable insights into the unique and fascinating bond that exists between these resilient herbivores and the thorny vegetation they willingly devour.

Managing Briar (Briar Control Measures)

Controlling the growth of briars is essential for managing their interaction with goats.

While goats have a natural inclination to consume briars, it is important to strike a balance and prevent an overabundance of these thorny plants in their grazing areas.

Regularly monitoring and maintaining pastures by removing excessive briar growth can help ensure a healthier environment for the goats.

This can be done by employing various methods such as manual removal, mowing, or even using herbicides in extreme cases.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that any herbicide used is goat-safe and doesn’t pose a risk to their health.

Rotational Grazing Strategies

Implementing rotational grazing strategies can be beneficial when managing briar consumption by goats.

By dividing pasture areas into smaller sections, you can control the amount of access goats have to briars at any given time.

This allows for better management of briar growth while ensuring that the goats still have access to a varied diet.

Rotating the goats between different pastures also gives time for the regrowth of preferred forage plants, reducing reliance on briars as a primary food source.

Do Goats Eat Briars (Conclusion)

While goats do have a penchant for munching on thorny vegetation such as briars, they should not solely rely on them as their main source of nutrition.

Briars can provide valuable nutrients but should be managed appropriately to maintain an optimal grazing environment for goats.

Controlling and monitoring the growth of briars through regular maintenance and rotational grazing strategies ensures both the health of the goats and the overall productivity of pastures.

Remember, goats are remarkable creatures with versatile eating habits that allow them to thrive in diverse environments.

So don’t fret if you come across some pesky briars; your trusty goat companions will gladly lend a helping mouth!

Related Articles:


Question: Will goats eat thorns?

Goats are known to eat plants with thorns, such as thistle, blackberry brambles, and other prickly vegetation. Their tough mouths and chewing abilities allow them to consume thorny plants without much difficulty.

Question: Can goats eat green briar?

Yes, goats can eat green briar. They are well-equipped to browse on thorny plants like green briar due to their unique digestive system and ability to navigate around thorns.

Question: Do goats like thorns?

While goats may not specifically seek out thorny plants, they are known to eat them if they are available. Their browsing behavior and ability to process thorns make them capable of consuming vegetation with thorns.

Question: What animal eats thorns?

Goats are one of the animals known to eat plants with thorns. Their browsing nature, tough mouths, and specialized digestive system allow them to consume thorny plants that many other animals might avoid.


I have a Masters degree in Communication and over 5 years working in PR. I have a wife and four children and love spending time with them on our farm. I grew up on a farm with cows, sheep, pigs, goats, you name it! My first childhood pet was a pig named Daisy. In my spare time, I love holding bbq parties for my friends and family

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