Can Goats Eat Moldy Hay

Can Goats Eat Moldy Hay?

It is common for any owner or farmer to want to know what to give and what not to give to his or her animals. Goats are one of the animals that are commonly kept in many homes and it is of interest to know what these goats should and should not eat.  Goats can eat moldy hay if they get access to it.

Goats like many other animals are not that picky and may eat or try to eat almost anything available to them. However, some of the feeds they eat can be dangerous to their health. Such an example is moldy hay under discussion. Mold hay should not be given to goats to eat due to its negative effects on their health. We need to look at various issues to shed more light on reasons why moldy hay is not recommended to be eaten by goats.


What Is Moldy Hay

Moldy hay refers to hay that has gradually developed or have molds grow in it over time. This is mainly a natural process caused by allowing moist conditions on your hay or through improper hay drying during initial curing process leaving a high moisture content in the hay. Overtime molds will develop causing the hay to be moldy.

How To Identify Mold Hay

Having mentioned that goats can eat moldy hay which is not recommended, one may wonder then how to identify if hay is moldy. Having this knowledge is important as it helps one to know which hay to feed his goats. Below are some of the ways one can use to identify whether hay is moldy or not.

  • Laboratory testing. This is one of the most accurate ways to verify if your hay is moldy. You simply take your hay sample to the laboratory and have it tested. It is important to make sure that you take the sample properly and on batches that may be suspicious.
  • Hay appearance. Moldy hay appears different from good quality hay and checking its appearance can help one identify whether hay is moldy or not. If you notice dark or grey spots on your hay this may be a sign that mold is growing on your hay. Usually the hay smells different from other hays, producing a disturbing odor.
  • Dust on hay. This is also another way of telling whether your hay is moldy or not. Moldy hay tends to release a lot of dust compared to good quality hay which also may have small amount of dust.

All these are different ways of telling whether hay has mold or not but the most accurate one is taking hay sample to the laboratory for testing. This will determine whether mold quantities are too excessive to be eaten by goats unlike other ways which can only show that molds are present without quantification.

What Happens If Goats Eat Moldy Hay

Now it is clear that goats can eat moldy hay but we have also clarified that it is not recommended to give your goats moldy hay due to many side effects it causes. Now let us look at what happens when goats eat moldy hay in detail.

  • Listeriosis disease. This is one of the diseases which affects goats when they eat moldy hay. Moldy hay contains toxic substances and bacteria which if eaten by goats will result in this disease. This disease if not given immediate attention may result in deaths of goats and should therefore be treated with urgency.
  • Prussic acid poisoning. This is the second disease that is affects goats when they eat moldy hay. Again if not treated with urgency, the goats may die from this disease.

It is important to always prevent these diseases than curing them as there are no guarantee that curing will give good results. Goats should never be left exposed to moldy hay.

Can Moldy Hay Be Treated

Suppose you have got piles of hay for your animals and it develops molds, what should you do to make sure that the hay can be fed to your animals or goats? Throwing away your hay may not be the option given the cost for your hay. There are some ways which can be employed to reduce the mold content and make your hay useable again to feed your goats.

  • Expose your moldy hay to sunlight and air. These conditions will help reduce moisture in the hay which is required for mold growth. Sometimes blowers may be used to quicken the process of drying. This therefore reduces the mold content in the hay. If you plan to feed your goats, you may need to take the sample of the dried hay to laboratory for tests.
  • You may also opt to slice or cut through your hay using a power saw to further expose it to sunlight. The parts that are very moldy can be removed and thrown away or in composts where goats may not access them.

This should be treated as a last option, where possible try to avoid letting your hay get moldy as we shall discuss below. Feeding of treated moldy hay should be done after taking the samples to the laboratory and should be given in small quantities.

How To Prevent Hay From Getting Moldy

Like I mentioned above, prevention is better than cure. It is advisable to make sure that you prevent your hay from getting molds in the first place. Below are the ways which can be employed to keep your hay fresh and safe for your goats to eat.

  • Make sure to completely dry your hay before storing it. Make sure that moisture content is below 20%, this way your hay will not get moldy to the levels that are harmful for goats to eat.
  • Always store your hay in an area that is well ventilated and dry. These conditions do not allow mold growth and you are guaranteed that your hay will be good for your goats to eat.


Moldy hay is dangerous to the health of your goats and therefore should not be given to goats to eat.