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Toxic Plants

poisonous plants - yew
There are many plants that are harmful to goats once eaten, resulting in many different maladies. The best practice for reducing animal poisonings is to assume all garden shrubs are potentially toxic, and research any plants which are present.

Some plants will have a delayed poisoning following consumption, and the plant toxicity may change depending on whether they are fresh or dried. The following lists should be used as a guide only and are definitely not exhaustive.

Plants that cause sudden death:

  • Yew (Taxus baccata)
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)
  • Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  • Linseed (Linum sp.)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  • Water dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris)
  • Bracken fern (Pteridium esculentum)

Plants that should be removed, or not fed, as a precautionary measure:

  • Brassica species such as kale, broccoli, cabbage. (Brassica sp.) Can cause goitre and stillbirth.
  • Linseed (Linum sp.) Can cause goitre and stillbirth.
  • Inkweed (Phytolacca octandra)
  • Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
  • Woolly nightshade/tobacco weed (Solanum mauritianum)
  • Camellia sp.
  • Wilted stonefruit leaves (Prunus sp.) Grazing off the tree directly is fine (as long as the owner of the tree says so!) or eating from freshly cut branches is fine, but once the leaves begin to decay a little, they release toxins that are unpalatable.

Pregnant does should not be allowed to graze on pine needles (Pinus sp.) as it can cause the fetus to slip.


Treatments following poison consumption

Please seek advice from your vet for the best treatment for your goats following a suspected poisoning, as not all treatments will be effective for different cases.

The following first-aid treatment was developed using advice from a veterinarian. it was used to save the lives of several goats which had consumed rhododendrons.

Ingredients and equipment:

  • Baking soda
  • Paraffin oil
  • Drench gun
  • Bucket.


Dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda in two litres of warm water.

Drench each affected animal with 120mls of the mixture. (If this mixture is not kept down, then re-drench animals after a short period).

Allow an interval of at least 25 minutes, then drench animals with 25mls of pure paraffin oil.

How does it work?
The baking soda neutralises any excess acid which forms in the stomach following consumption of toxic plant material. The paraffin oil is then speeds up the elimination of the offending stomach contents. By the following day animals should be healthy.


Note: It also pays to have some Atropine on hand, which will cover you in the event of any future poisonings.

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