Can Goats Eat Wisteria Or Is It Poisonous To Them?

Paul West/ Pet And Wildlife Care, Backyard Gardening

Can goats eat wisteria? If you have a herd then it’s a very important question to answer.

Let’s see! There are some common misconceptions about goats and wisteria. Many people assume goats will eat any plant without consequence. However, goats have very discriminating palates and prefer plants highest in nutrients. Wisteria’s aggressive growth is often misunderstood as well.

Bottom line: If not properly controlled, wisteria vines can destroy structures and choke out native plants.

Key Takeaways

  • Wisteria contains toxic compounds that can poison goats, especially the seeds/pods.
  • Even small amounts may cause gastrointestinal, kidney and liver damage.
  • Wisteria should never be intentionally fed to goats due to poisoning risks.
  • Provide plenty of safe, nutritious alternative plants for forage.
  • Monitor grazing areas and remove any accessible wisteria vines.

Is Wisteria Poisonous to Goats?

Wisteria contains a variety of compounds that make it potentially toxic if consumed in large quantities. The main chemicals of concern are lectins, saponins, wisterin, and wisteria acid.

Lectins bind to carbohydrates and can disrupt digestion. Saponins are detergent-like compounds that cause lethargy, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Wisterin and wisteria acid are less studied but may negatively affect the heart, digestive system, and kidneys.

Ingesting wisteria leaves, seeds or pods can cause gastrointestinal upset, heart problems, weakness, collapse and potentially death in goats. The toxins interfere with cell membranes, interrupt nutritional absorption, and disrupt organ functions. Amounts as low as 0.2% of a goat’s body weight in wisteria intake could be lethal. However, goats tend to avoid eating unknown or toxic plants instinctively.

There are few documented cases of wisteria poisoning in goats. Goats co-exist with wisteria in many regions and incidents of toxicity are rare. This suggests goats innately limit wisteria consumption to non-lethal doses through their selective grazing. However, curious goats may sample new plants, so wisteria should not be purposefully introduced as feed.

Feeding Wisteria to Goats: Risks and Benefits

While wisteria is not recommended forage, goats may benefit from eating small amounts as part of varied vegetation. The plant contains vitamins, minerals, proteins and bioactive compounds that could have nutritional value. Wisteria leaves are high in vitamin C, flavonoids, and other antioxidants. The flowers contain carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals like phosphorus and potassium.

However, the risks of toxicity generally outweigh any potential benefits. Since goats have sensitive digestive systems, eating even minor quantities of wisteria leaves or pods puts them at risk of poisoning and health complications. Consuming higher doses could cause muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea or death. Additionally, regular wisteria consumption may cause liver and kidney damage over time.

Given the real risks involved, veterinarians and experienced goat owners strongly advise against intentionally feeding any part of the wisteria plant to goats. The consensus is that the dangers outweigh any positives. While incidental, low-dose ingestion is likely safe, wisteria should never become a significant part of a goat’s diet. Ultimately, it is better to offer goats a variety of known safe, nutritious forages rather than taking a chance on wisteria.

Understanding Different Parts of the Plant

Goats may encounter different parts of the wisteria plant. The leaves, twigs, flowers, seed pods and seeds vary in their toxicity levels.

Wisteria leaves and soft green twigs contain lower concentrations of toxins compared to other parts. Goats tend to avoid eating large amounts of leaves. The flowers contain sugars that goats find palatable, but they are still dangerous in excess.

The seed pods and seeds inside have higher toxin levels than other parts of the plant. The lectins are most concentrated in the seeds. As goats prefer pods and seeds from some plants, wisteria seeds may seem enticing. However, the risks of poisonings are highest from consuming wisteria seeds and pods.

Overall, the seeds and seed pods appear to be the most toxic parts of the plant. The seeds contain up to 10 times more wisterin than other parts. The lectins also primarily concentrate in the seeds. While all parts can be toxic, goat owners should be especially cautious about goats accessing wisteria pods..


Since wisteria poses risks, goat owners should provide alternative nutritious forage. There are many plants that offer excellent nutrition without toxicity concerns.

Some top plants and trees safe for goats include blackberry bushes, ash, elderberry, honeysuckle, crabapple, sycamore, and maple. Provide a variety to give a mix of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Rotate grazing areas to ensure access to diverse forages.

Avoid yew, azaleas, foxglove, rhododendron, milkweed, nightshade and other poisonous plants. Do not allow access to unknown plants before verifying they are goat-safe. Monitor grazing areas and remove any potentially toxic plants. Keeping wisteria controlled will also reduce risk of exposure. Keep goats well-fed on known safe forages so they are less likely to sample unknown plants.

Final Thoughts

In summary, wisteria contains toxins that can sicken or kill goats if they consume excessive amounts. While goats tend to avoid unfamiliar plants, wisteria poses real risks especially from eating the seeds or seed pods..

The safest approach for goat owners is to avoid introducing wisteria in areas accessible to goats. Remove any wisteria from the vicinity of your goats. Provide plenty of nutritious, low-toxicity forage options. Always monitor grazing areas closely and never include wisteria in feed. Following these practical tips will keep your goats happy and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are some types of wisteria less toxic to goats than others?

Different wisteria species and cultivars can vary in toxicity levels. Japanese and Chinese wisteria contain similar toxins but amounts may differ. Consult an expert before assuming any wisteria is safe.

How long do wisteria toxins stay in a goat’s system?

Wisteria toxins are eliminated at different rates depending on the toxin and dose. Lectins are cleared quickly while kidney/liver damage may be long-lasting. Metabolism and elimination times vary between individual goats.

Is it okay for goats to eat wisteria flowers?

No, all parts of wisteria including the flowers contain some level of toxins. Allowing goats to eat any part of the wisteria plant could pose a risk. Flowers should be considered dangerous.

Can wisteria poisoning be treated with an antidote or antitoxin?

There is no specific antidote for wisteria poisoning. Treatment involves supportive care, like IV fluids and medications to control vomiting. Quick vet care is vital for the best prognosis.

Are male goats or pregnant does more susceptible?

There is no evidence of gender or pregnancy affecting wisteria toxin susceptibility in goats. All goats are at similar risk if they ingest toxic amounts. Adult goats appear less likely to sample unknown plants.

Further Reading

Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!