Are Tomatoes Bad or Toxic for Cattle?

Domestic animals like cattle have specific dietary needs and some foods they really can’t have. 

This might lead you to wonder if sharing your tomato harvest from your crop production with your cattle and calves before heading to the farmer’s market is safe. 

Yet, are tomatoes bad for cattle? 

Cattle can eat tomatoes, generally, but there are some exceptions. An unripe tomato, specifically the still-green sections, contains saponin. This alkaloid isn’t safe for various animals and can cause intestinal and digestive irritation and upset. A red, ripe tomato is safe for cattle.

These exceptions might seem tricky when you’re worried about tomato poisoning among your animals. 

Don’t worry; we’ll review everything you need to know about feeding your cows this fruit! 

are tomatoes bad for cattle

What Livestock Eat Tomatoes?  

Some livestock love tomatoes. 

For instance, your goats may enjoy the fruit although they can’t eat the plant leaves. 

On the other hand, tomatoes are a poisonous plant to horses. 

As for cows, they can enjoy a tomato without endangering their health if the plant is ripe and the fruit doesn’t feature any green spots.

Are Tomatoes Toxic to Cows? 

Tomatoes are toxic to cows in certain situations. 

According to The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, you must be very careful in separating ripe tomatoes from unripe tomatoes before feeding them to cattle to avoid negative effects. 

This is because unripe tomatoes have an alkaloid in them called saponin. 

Specifically, it resides in the green parts of unripe tomatoes, so you’ll want to pull any ripe tomatoes from the feed supply if they still feature a green spot or two. 

Some insects and animals, like dogs, ingest unripe tomatoes, which can lead to dangerous tomato poisoning. 

Herbivores like cows don’t have quite as severe a reaction but can experience distressing symptoms like diarrhea, intestinal irritation and abdominal pain, or vomiting.

The good news is as these green spots go away, so does the saponin in the plants. 

If you have a completely ripe red tomato, sharing it with your animals is safe without the risk of poisoning.

Related Post: Are soybeans poisonous to cattle?

Can Cows Eat Tomato Leaves?

While there are some reports of farmers using dried tomato vines in feed, it’s not advised to feed your cows the leaves of tomato as well. 

Stay away from the vines, leaves, and any green on the tomatoes themselves as a whole.

To avoid this, it’s best to go through and give your cows tomatoes you’ve already picked rather than allowing your herd to snack directly off the vine. 

Fruits And Veggies For Cattle

Along the same lines, keep your cattle safe in everything they eat and learn more about what fruits and veggies are good for your cows.

Further Reading: Treats for cows and what they love!

What Vegetables Can Cattle Eat? 

As herbivores, plant-based treats are a favorite among cattle and calves. 

However, you’ll need to ensure the vegetables you’re feeding them won’t lead to health issues. 

They love to snack on veggies like corn and carrots. 

There are a few vegetables you’ll want to avoid altogether. 

For instance, onions and wild cabbage can cause health issues.

What Fruits Can Cattle Eat? 

Vegetables aren’t the only things cows love; it’s easy to make your herd happy with some fruit too! 

Like vegetables, some fruit is safe is edible fruit for cows, and others are better avoided. 

It’s safe to give your cow a treat of any of these fruits: 

  • Bananas
  • Pumpkins
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Oranges

Conversely, consuming avocado can lead to heart complications among cows.

Can Cows Eat Banana Peels? 

When you grab a banana for yourself, you probably peel it before diving in. 

Should you do the same thing for your cattle? 

Regarding fruit your cows can eat, it’s okay to give them the peel too. 

There are some evidence banana peels even offer digestive benefits to cows. 

Still, some caretakers choose to peel the bananas for animal consumption to make them easier to eat. 

Can Cows Eat Carrots? 

Cows are big fans of carrots! 

They’re also often lauded as great vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin K sources for cows. 

The two major concerns surrounding carrots for cows are the nitrates in carrots and the pesticides on them. 

Both problems are easily solved. 

To get rid of any pesticides, simply peel the carrots first. 

As for nitrates, the concern is nitrate poisoning. 

While this is scary, it’s easily avoided by limiting carrot intake in cows. 

They should only make up a maximum of a fourth of a cow’s diet, so don’t give them more than 30 pounds of carrots in a day.

Are Potatoes Poisonous to Cows? 

Potatoes are another example of a treat your cows can enjoy but only under certain conditions. 

Much like carrots, don’t feed your cows more than 25 to 35 pounds of potatoes a day.

You’ll also want to pull any potatoes past their due date, starting to look a bit green, or sprouting from the feed, according to The University of Wisconsin – Extension

These potatoes are more likely to contain a compound called glycoalkaloids. 

These are toxic to cows. 

Can Cows Eat Strawberries? 

We’ve already seen how much cows love fruit, but how do they feel about berries specifically? 

Can you share some strawberries with your cow? 

Yes, and strawberries even give your cows a boost in vitamin C, vitamin B9, potassium, and full of antioxidants. 

However, their high sugar content means they’re best as a snack served in moderation.

What Plant is Poisonous to Cattle? 

To avoid poisoning livestock, there are a few different plants to keep your cows away from. 

According to The University of Missouri Department of Agronomy, it’s best to keep your herd away from the following: 

  • Cocklebur (especially before its two-leaf growth stage)
  • Jimsonweed
  • Milkweed
  • Wild indigo
  • Pigweed
  • Black nightshade
  • Horsetail
  • Johnsongrass
  • Wild cherry
  • Pokeweed
  • Buck
  • Water hemlock

It’s important to do research specific to your locale since plant life can vary so much depending on where you and your cows are. 

Getting familiar with local fauna and double-checking the plant life in your pastures can help avoid any potential issues.

Related: Are cedar trees bad for cattle?