Goats/Common poisonous evergreens in the mid-Atlantic region
Special care needs to be taken in winter to deny goats access to poisonous evergreens, since they are a much more tempting food during months when there is little other green forage. This includes both forage brought to the yard, but also plants nearby to paths used by the goats when moving between the barnyard and pastures.
Yew (Taxus spp.) are conifers with dark green, glossy leaves that produce red "berries". The yew is one of the most toxic plants in the landscape for goats and other livestock (though the white-tailed deer browses on it with no apparent effect). Foliage and bark should be kept away from goats at all costs.
Other coniferous plants are safe in small doses, but should not be used as a primary fodder source due to the heavy resins that may cause gastro-intestinal problems.
Many of the broadleaved evergreens found in the region are in the heath family, and can cause vomiting or neurological toxicity.
Rhododendron and azalea
Rhododendrons and Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) are popular ornamental landscape plants, and also grow wild in many parts of the region. The leaves are alternate, but are closely crowded around the end of the stem and appear whorled. The leaves can be glossy and/or hairy, with entire margins. When ingested by goats, these plants can cause vomiting in small doses or be lethal in high doses.
Similar to rhododendron in appearance and effect. Commonly found in the wild on shady slopes.
A landscape plant, similar to the rhododendrons but with narrow leaves.