Kudzu is an Asian vine that has conquered much of the southeastern United States. It is not only consuming landscapes, changing ecosystems, and moving further north over time. It is also contributing to an increase in ozone pollution.
Kudzu is a fast-growing legume introduced to North America in the early 20th century to aid erosion control. It has since spread to over 7 million acres and is currently encroaching on New York and Pennsylvania as far north as Maine and Ontario.
But before I jump into the details, let me say this, if you’ve had the luxury of learning to know goats, you’re already aware of their gluttonous tendencies. Goats are peculiar when presented with a feeding opportunity and move without hesitation.
They often consume whatever is in front of them when there is grass, weeds, or brush, including Kudzu. Since most of the invasive plant’s parts are edible and safe for goats to consume, will goats eat Kudzu?
What Is Kudzu?
The southeastern United States is now home to Kudzu, a leafy climbing perennial vine once only found in Japan and southeast China. Even though it has a reputation for spreading like a weed, it can be a healthy food source for animals. Additionally, it has a history of getting utilized in cooking and traditional remedies.
This robust plant can expand up to 60 feet in a season. Kudzu is a plant that is an invasive species and is known as a pest because of its rapid growth and propensity to suffocate neighboring plants. However, it is affordable and nutrient-rich for herbivorous animals like goats.
Do Goats Enjoy Kudzu Eating?
Goats can and do consume Kudzu. The fact that Kudzu is high in crude protein makes it enticing and delectable to them. The primary line of defense in controlling the invasive vine includes goats.
Kudzu lacks natural predators in the United States, making it challenging to manage or eradicate. It’s also challenging to manage with tools or chemical herbicides. However, most grazing animals regard Kudzu as high-quality fodder, and goats are one of the best means of kudzu control.
While grass and hay are the forages that goats prefer to consume, they will consume Kudzu if it is available as the entire herds of goats often enjoy eating Kudzu so much. One time, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy hired a certain herd of goats to a spot to pull the vines. They did a great job; even the goats ate the woody stems and thorns of the kudzu plant.
We understand that goats are browsers by nature, not grazers. So, anything in their path gets consumed, including grasses, bushes, grapevines, and more. Often, goats don’t know to consume only specific plants and leave others alone. So, you must ensure that you keep your goats away from everything you want to save, including goat-toxic flora.
Is Kudzu Toxic to Goats?
Most farm animals and livestock, particularly browsing animals like goats, get unaffected by Kudzu, especially when used as fodder. The vine, vine tips, and roots can all get consumed by goats in moderation without causing any problems. Although kudzu seeds aren’t poisonous to goats, we don’t precisely refer to them as edibles, so you must be careful when handling them.
Furthermore, be aware that Kudzu may get accompanied by other dangerous plants, one of which could include poison ivy. Goats can also consume poison ivy. However, if your goat exhibits poisoning symptoms, consult your veterinarian.
In the rare event that poisoning occurs, frequent symptoms to look out for include vomiting and diarrhea. It’s also crucial to remember that even plant parts, such as their leaves, blossoms, and vines, can complicate matters if consumed in excess.
Does Kudzu Benefit Goats?
Technically, Kudzu can be of great benefit to goats. When included in the proper diet, Kudzu can be a great dietary supplement to your herd. The unusual plant is a rich source of crude protein for goat rations.
Asides from fiber, Kudzu has roughly 15–18% crude protein. More crude protein is present in the leaves than in the stem, vines, or any other component of the plant. But, compared to the leaves, the stem has more fiber.
Benefits of Goatscaping to Eradicate Kudzu
Goats seem to be the most friendly approach to combat Kudzu, but it would take a lot of them to clear all the Kudzu in the United States. So, if you need to deal with invasive species but don’t have goats, you can rent a herd.
Depending on the size of the farm, goatscaping can take a few days or weeks. Below are some of its benefits to controlling Kudzu:
- You can set goats loose on your property whenever your vegetation is out of control because they naturally taste grass, weeds, and brush.
- Goats have the ability of goats to replenish soil nutrients with their droppings.
- They also render any seeds they come into contact with as sterile.
- The goats will leave you with a far more manageable area, whether you want to improve a pasture, garden, or leisure area.
Negative Effects of Kudzu
While Kudzu may have a few distinct advantages, there are also some potential drawbacks. And these drawbacks are usually environment or climate-related. And they include:
In the areas it invades, Kudzu significantly impacts the local environment. Kudzu’s spread is horizontal and vertical, engulfing all surrounding vegetation in a dense mat of stems and leaves that prevents light from penetrating them.
Very few plants can thrive in such low-light circumstances, and the weight of the Kudzu alone can be a barrier to growth. As a result, a Kudzu-invaded area has very little variety of plant species.
The variety of native fauna gets affected by the decline in plant species. Furthermore, removing native trees and shrubs starves natural plant eaters, creating a big vacuum in the food chain for the area.
Like peas and certain other crops, the vine “fixes” atmospheric nitrogen by removing it from the air rather than from the soil, but, Kudzu is so aggressive and quick-growing that it might change the nitrogen cycle in the air and soil where it invades. It can suffocate trees and other plants.
Researchers also discovered that Kudzu doubled soil emissions of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds. These are the primary source of urban smog and the principal precursor to ozone pollution in the lower atmosphere. Ozone shields life on Earth’s surface from dangerous UV rays in the high atmosphere.
But in the lower atmosphere, it can harm other plants and worsen respiratory conditions in people. Some studies suggest that Kudzu’s distribution may continue to expand northward. This expansion is due to its preference for warmer conditions and ability to enjoy greater air carbon dioxide levels.
Cause of Climate Change
Kudzu also lessens the soil’s capacity to store carbon, contributing to climate change. According to a 2014 study on the plant, when Kudzu invades native pine woods, more carbon from the soil’s organic matter gets released into the atmosphere.
This addition is likely due to Kudzu’s organic matter degrading far more than the vegetation it replaces.
Kudzu may get consumed by goats without issues; they like it, it’s nutrient-rich, and it promotes the plant’s rapid growth.
Although goats may consume Kudzu without getting sick, feeding them anything is generally not a good idea for their diet. Now that you know, you should strictly limit your diet to nutrients and food that are highly beneficial to your goat’s diet.