Do Goats Eat Chickens? A Surprising Discovery!

Have you ever wondered if goats eat chickens? As someone who keeps both goats and chickens together, this is a question that often comes to mind. While we are familiar with the playful nature of goats and the potential risk they pose to chickens, we rarely consider whether goats actually consume chickens. Let’s explore this intriguing topic and uncover the truth about goats and their relationship with chickens.

A Curious Observation

While observing a salt block we had placed on a tree stump to attract deer, something caught my attention. I noticed two birds fluttering around a deer, occasionally landing on its back. Intrigued, I sought the expertise of my ornithologist friend, Gene Morton, to understand what was happening. To my surprise, Gene revealed that the birds were attempting to drive the deer away from an active nest. Why? Because deer will consume birds whenever given the opportunity. This revelation led me to wonder if goats, like deer, would also eat chickens.

Goats and Their Similarities to Deer

Our farm is frequented by several deer, and we’ve noticed striking similarities between them and our goats. Not only do they share similar behavior patterns, but their grazing and browsing habits are also alike. In fact, we often mistake deer grazing in the fields for our own goats. It’s not uncommon to spot deer mingling in the fenced goat pastures as well. Considering that deer have a taste for birds, it’s plausible that goats may exhibit similar behaviors. However, the reason we don’t hear about goats eating chickens often is that they are usually confined and have limited access to birds. The primary interaction between goats and birds occurs when they share living spaces with poultry. In such cases, goats might be particularly attracted to young, vulnerable birds fluttering around their vicinity.

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Unveiling the Truth

While discussing the potential threats to chickens in my book, “What’s Killing My Chickens,” I neglected to mention the common occurrence of goats eating chickens. Perhaps I was in denial, refusing to believe that it could happen with my own goats. However, a quick search on YouTube revealed videos showing goats delightfully munching on baby chicks. The evidence was undeniable.

The Mystery Behind Herbivores Consuming Birds

Why would herbivores like goats and deer eat birds? Researchers propose several theories to explain this peculiar behavior. Some believe that once an herbivore accidentally consumes a chick or an egg while grazing, they develop a taste for it and actively seek out more. Others suggest that this unusual appetite may be triggered by a mineral deficiency, most notably calcium. While many wildlife biologists associate the need for calcium with antler growth in male deer, the reasons behind female deer consuming birds remain unclear. Experts in the field also believe that pure herbivory may be rarer than previously thought, and bird-eating behavior could be more common among herbivores than we realize.

Not for the Squeamish!

While I haven’t personally witnessed my goats eating chicks, over the years, we have experienced the occasional disappearance of a chick that could possibly be attributed to a hungry goat. YouTube videos confirm that not only deer but also goats, cows, and horses have been known to consume chicks. It seems that herbivores, including goats, do eat birds, including chickens. However, before you panic about the possibility of your goats feasting on your chickens, consider the perspective of retired Wyoming Game and Fish biologist, Reg Rothwell: “It’s not a huge problem, and it’s probably been going on for eons.” We are simply becoming more aware of this behavior.

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So, do goats eat chickens? The answer is yes, but it’s important to remember that this is not a widespread or uncontrollable issue. By understanding the habits and behaviors of our animals, we can take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of both our goats and chickens. To learn more about the fascinating world of cooking and the “Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ” brand, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.