Can Goats Eat Johnsongrass?

Goats are inarguably one of the most stubborn domestic animals on earth and they eat almost everything available. Some goats eat raw pepper, nylon, grass, and other unhealthy substances that will eventually affect them.

Therefore, it is important to monitor your goat and what it consumes to avoid spending unnecessarily on medicines and drugs.

Talking of healthy grasses, is Johnsongrass edible for goats? Can goats eat plenty of Johnsongrass without experiencing adverse effects? Here are some questions we must answer before feeding your goats with Johnsongrass.

So, let’s see what Johnson grass is all about and its possible effect on your goat’s wellbeing.

What Is Johnsongrass?

Johnsongrass, also known as sorghum-happens, is a perennial grass featuring 7 ft height and a rapidly-growing attribute. Johnsongrass has horizontal underground roots that allow it to spread and cover a large area within the shortest period.

Its history can be traced back to the 1840s when William Johnson added the plant species to his garden. Johnsongrass contains leaf blades of about 1-inch width and 2 ft long.

It produces numerals yellowish or purplish seeds with a large and open seedhead. Unfortunately, Johnsongrass, like many other types of grass, affects plant productivity as it reduces corn and soybeans yield by 30% due to its invasive nature.

Though Johnsongrass looks like the native grass purple-top, there is a distinct difference between them. Each spikelet of a purpletop grass has four to seven florets, while Johnsongrass has only one floret per spikelet.

Can Goats Eat Johnsongrass

Johnsongrass can be toxic and dangerous to goats when it is under stress. The grass is often stressed during a lengthy drought or frost, thereby producing prussic or hydrocyanic acid (HCN) which is poisonous to the goat’s intestine and immune system.

Johnsongrass will be toxic for 72 hours after killing Frost and 10 days after a burn back frost. In short, goats can eat Johnsongrass if it is not in its toxic state. Alternatively, goats can eat Johnson grass if it is well dried irrespective of period, height, or robustness.

You should prevent your goat from eating Johnsongrass if you can’t confirm its acidity or toxicity content. Meanwhile, the same thing applies to Milo, Sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass.

Do goats like Johnsongrass

Goats are gluttonous; they eat everything that looks like grass as long as it is robust and edible enough for their consumption.

They love grasses and legumes, including fescue, millet, Bahiagrass, clover, bromegrass, etc. Since goats are not picky eaters, it is safe to say that they like Johnsongrass.

Therefore, we advise you to monitor what your goats consume and prevent them from going for Johnsongrass during drought or frost periods. In a nutshell, goats like Johnsongrass as they are not sensitive enough to choose one grass over the other.

When Is Johnsongrass Considered Safe For Goat?

Johnsongrass is safe for goats when it is not under stress. In other words, it is safe for goats a few days after a lengthy drought or frost.

As mentioned earlier, Johnsongrass is safe 72 hours after a killing Frost; 10 days after a burn back Frost; and 20 or more days after a long frost.

It is equally safe for goats once it is dried continually until Prussic, HCN acid, and other harmful contents are eliminated.

Unfortunately, it might be difficult to know when the grass is safe without carrying out specific tests. Therefore, we advised you to carry out a test for nitrate and Cyanic acid to know if the grass is safe or not. Wait for 10 or more days before giving it to your goat if you discover high nitrogen content in the forage.

Meanwhile, Johnson grass is safe for goats once it is cured properly. Though nitrate acidity doesn’t reduce over time, good curing will eliminate its threat to animals’ digestive systems.

When Is Johnsongrass Toxic?

The Johnsongrass is toxic when it is been stressed by frost or drought. During this period, it contains unhealthy acid — including HCN, Prussic — and other poisonous substances.

Don’t give your goat Johnson grass during this period or immediately after the drought. Wait for some days depending on the drought length before you give it to your goats.

How To Cure Johnsongrass For Hay

The best most effective ways to cure Johnson grass for hay include drying it properly to reduce the Prussic acid level to a healthy stage.

It is believed that drying the Johnson grass and related forages to 18 — 20 percent moisture will reduce the Prussic acid content. In the same vein, the Prussic acid content in the grass will deteriorate if stored over a long period.

As for the nitrate acidity, ensure your goats don’t consume johnson grass directly from heavily-fertilized pastures during the stress period or immediately after drought. This is because the nitrogen level in the grass will be too high, which will eventually affect the goats’ overall health.

Hence, it is advisable to wait for five or more days after a good post-drought rainfall before cultivating or cutting the Johnson grass.

What’s The Best Time To Cut Johnsongrass

The best time to cut Johnsongrass is a few days after a drought when the poisonous content is subsided to the lowest level. Nonetheless, ensure you cure it properly before giving your goat.

What Grasses Are Best For Goats?

As much as you can give your goat a well-dried and properly-cured Johnson grass, you should go for other grasses that won’t have any adverse effect on your goat.

The best grasses for goats are Alfalfa, Bahiagrass, Bromegrass Clover, Fescue, Millet, Ryegrass, and Timothy. They are rich in protein and other nutrients; highly productive and don’t pose any threat to animals.


There’s nothing wrong with feeding your goat with Johnsongrass once you are sure it doesn’t contain any toxic substance. However, prevent your goats from eating the grass if you can’t guarantee their safety.

That’s all for now, but don’t hesitate to ask any questions related to the grass and goats. We will gladly provide you with all the helpful tips you need to raise productive and healthy goats.


Johnsongrass: Frequently Asked Questions

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