Livestock feed is a challenge in most countries. This problem is more pronounced in developing countries due to inadequate production of conventional ingredients for livestock feeding. In recent years, farmers have experienced increased difficulties in the provision of sufficient feed for animals because of drought. As such, the competition for grain between humans and livestock has intensified resulting in insufficient animal feed supply. A consequence of this challenge includes increased costs of animal feed, hence the need for new feed resources. As such, goats can eat carrots as a means to provide them with adequate nutrients in such cases.

Can Goats Eat Carrots?

Goats can feed on carrots without experiencing any negative effects. Carrots are a rich source of nutrients for livestock. They consist of vitamins, protein and carbohydrates which are of essence to the health and physiological development of goats. Carrots also contain sugars in the form of sucrose and carotene as well as phenolic which is rich in albumin, followed by glutelin, globulin and prolamin. In addition, carrots are a rich source of macro- and micro-elements. These play a significant role in improving reproductive and physical health. Agricultural research has established that inclusion of carrots supplements to animal feed results in improved quantity and quality of produce. Therefore, goats can eat carrots to earn a competitive advantage over their counterparts.  Carrot supplements are made up of cull, carrot tops, carrots pomace after the extraction of juice or surplus from previous yields. Fresh carrots can be fed up to approximately 2 to 4kg per day. Carrots supplements can reach 40% of the overall diet without any adverse effect to health or physiological maturity. Due to high fermentable sugars, fresh carrots should be combined with fibrous feeds to prevent acidosis and scouring. It is advisable to introduce carrot supplements to goat dietary plans rather progressively. Note that the mixture of carrots and concentrate feed should not exceed 50% of the overall diet and ad libitum feeding must be avoided. Prolonged use of carrot supplements in the diet of dairy goats increases the carotene content of milk thereby producing yellow coloured milk fat.

Carrot supplements for physiological development

The production of forage to feed animals in the semi-arid region is seasonal. Dry seasons are characterised by low quality feeding resources that do not provide sufficient nutritional value. Feeding resources also tend to be very low thus goats are not provided with adequate feed. This results in poor performing livestock that is underweight.  Under such circumstances, goats can feed on carrots in order to supplement their insufficient feed and acquire a well-balanced meal. Carrots are a rich source of feed and so goats with a carrot induced diet usually weigh slightly more than those with none. This is ideal for farmers as larger goats have a higher market value. In addition, agricultural research has also established that carrot pomace leads to a significant improvement in the reproductive performance of high-yielding goats. Carrots are also regarded as a rich supply of trace minerals that have a significant contribution towards for bone formation, growth and reproduction. Farmers often overlook the importance of trace minerals because consequences are seen over time, usually after several months. Lack of trace minerals in livestock leads to growth retardation, general muscle weakness, distended abdomen, emaciation and depraved appetite; eventually death. For this reason, goats can feed on carrots to ensure that they acquire necessary trace minerals. It is important to keep in mind that goats can eat carrots only within the specified limits. Anything above the recommended amount is regarded as an overdose therefore has a negative impact on growth, reproduction and productivity.

Carrot supplements for milk production

Goats can eat carrots so as to absorb nutrients needed for efficient milk production. Goats are said to have the highest requirements for nutrients of all ruminants. Their metabolism rate is higher and the capacity of the caprine rumen is larger in proportion to body size than that of most livestock.  As such to maintain productivity, they require a well-balanced feed which consist of carrot supplements mixed with a core feed for example hay. The results are increased milk yields superior in both quality and quantity. Note that an increased supply of carrots for prolonged periods of time increases the carotene levels of milk and so goats produce milk with yellow coloured fat. Lactating goats require more feed that their counterparts; the same applies to pregnant goats as they need a sufficient supply of nutrients to enable them to carry the pregnancy full term.

Carrot supplements for health maintenance

Carrots consists of vitamins that play an important role in maintaining healthy livestock. Goats can feed on carrots so as to receive a boost in their immune system thereby allowing them some form of resistance against rampant diseases.  In addition, carrots have a role to play in lowering cholesterol levels in livestock. As such goats that feed on carrots tend to produce healthier meat options. The role of carrots in the prevention of oxidative stress allows goats to maintain a healthy physical appearance. Goats that eat carrots are hardy and produce healthier yield options which are of high value, especially with the current global craze in healthy food options. Furthermore, trace minerals found in carrots help in the development of strong bones. A deficiency allows for poor bone formation which in turn has a negative influence on productivity.

Carrots as an antioxidant agent

Oxidation is a common challenge in animal husbandry; it adversely affects the colour, texture and taste of the meat. This has led to the development of synthetic antioxidants.  The downside of synthetic antioxidants is that they leave residue that can potentially harm consumers. For this reason, there is need for natural means of controlling oxidation. Goats can feed on carrots in order to protect themselves from oxidation. Carrots act a natural antioxidant agent protecting animals from oxidative stress. Carrot supplements control the formation of lipid oxidation that influences protein solubility, emulsification, water binding capacity, texture, and other rheological properties. Carrots are generally known to prevent lipid oxidation through numerous mechanisms which include free radical scavengers, reducing agents and metal chelators. For this reason, goats can eat carrots; however, caution should be taken with regards to rations. Also, carrots should always be paired with a complimentary feed as they cannot solely provide sufficient nutrients.