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Your Complete Goat Mineral Guide

Inside: Goat minerals are the most important aspect of your raising goats management program, even if you have only a few goats. It is integral to their health and it is more than just "putting out some mineral". What do you need to know? And what signs of mineral deficiency do you need to be aware of? Find out the most Important Goat Mineral Information and Guidelines below. Find more goat information on our raising goats resource page.

As a whole, I believe our nation is facing a very large health crisis mainly because most people are not getting their fill of vitamins and minerals.

And if not careful, like us, our goats can suffer very damaging consequences when their vitamins and minerals are not what they should be.

And your goats rely on YOU to give them what they need.

Goat Mineral Guide

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Your Guide to Goat Minerals

 Free Resource Page for Homesteaders and goat lovers like yourself! Cha-ching! You can have immediate access to 30+ FREE resources. Check ’em out! ~A Life of Heritage

 

What is goat mineral?

Goat Mineral is a supplement fortified with vitamins and minerals for sound growth. It also fosters optimal conditions for reproduction and enhances show appearance.

In other words? Goat mineral is really, really important.

Without it, your goats will battle parasites, breeding, pregnancy and kidding problems and general health issues.

So what do you need to know?

 

Important Goat Mineral Information and Guidelines

Here is the most important information you need to know about goat mineral:

  1. Know your area and it’s deficiencies. You can follow this link, Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data, to find out the levels of minerals in your area. (Very important to know!)
  2. Contact your local extension office. They are very happy to help! The county I live in is the biggest county in Montana (and Montana is big already!), so I wanted to know specifically for our area what minerals we were low on and they were happy to help.
  3. Offer loose mineral free choice at all times. This goat mineral feeder is a great choice, efficient, easy to make and low cost! But you can buy a mineral feeder like this as well.
  4. Buy mineral specifically for goats. Do not buy mineral labeled “Sheep and Goat Mineral”. This mineral DOES NOT have copper because it is toxic to sheep but goats NEED copper in their diet.
  5. The mineral needs to have the proper ratio of about 2 parts Calcium to 1 part Phosphorus.
  6. Adding Diamond V Yeast Culture XP-DFM mixed with the goat mineral will give goats an added boost with extra protein and vitamins. it also aids in digestion by increasing the ruminal yeasts and bacteria and helps the goats to better utilize their food. (Our goats LOVE it!) It is on the spendy side but a bag lasts a long time and it is well worth the investment. We have found that it helps in several areas:
    • Better health overall
    • Better milk production
    • Shinier coats in the summer
    • Thicker coats in the winter
    • And a healthier animal will fight off disease and pests in a much better and proactive way!
  7. A water source could actually affect the absorption and use of minerals in a goats body and actually bind the very minerals that are desperately needed to make a goat healthy. In fact, we finally realized that our well water is high in sulfur, and iron which inhibits the absorption of other minerals, such as copper, leading to deficiency. We now supplement with copper on a regular basis using these copper boluses
  8. Do not buy mineral blocks for several reasons:
    • They are a great stepping stool for cute kids
    • And cute kids poop on them
    • They are too hard on a goat’s teeth (You don’t want chipped goat teeth!)
    • Not efficient enough for a goat to have the intake needed. Their soft tongues are not made to lick on a hard mineral block.
  9. Do not “top dress” a goat’s feed with minerals. They will not get adequate benefit from this method. It must be offered as free choice, loose mineral at all times.
  10. Do not mix anything with minerals. Do offer baking soda (because of the many health benefits it gives them!), but provide it in an additional container and likewise for anything else you want to offer your goats free choice. For instance, baking soda is high in sodium and if mixed with the minerals, the goats would end up consuming less mineral, which you don’t want!
  11. Do not force feed salt. It is already a part of the loose mineral mix already offered on a free choice basis. Heavily salted rations cause goats to eat less. A pregnant doe who consumes too much salt may have udder problems — edema (subcutaneous accumulation of fluids).

 

Posts to check out:

 

Why do our domesticated goats need minerals?


A goat’s natural habitat, in the wild, is either the desert or mountainous regions. In my area, there are no wild mountain goats happily frolicking around. 

Why?

Because our area does not support the nutritional needs of a goat.

And when we confine our animals to small places, they are not allowed to browse, graze and move on to the next location to continue finding and eating the foods needed. 

What do the desert and mountains provide naturally for a goat?

✓ Mineral deposits in the rocks that they can lick

✓ An abundance of evergreens

✓ Fresh, natural water sources

What will goat mineral deficiencies look like?

Calcium (and Phosphorus):

Calcium and phosphorus must be in proper balance or serious illnesses can occur. Calcium is essential for bone formation and muscle contractions (including labor contractions). The ration for calcium-to-phosphorus must be 2-1/2 to 1.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Lameness, bowed legs in does bred too young (calcium deficient)
  • Urinary calculi (too much phosphorus in relation to calcium)
  • Birth defects (imbalance of calcium and phosphorus)

Copper:

Remember, copper is toxic to sheep! But your goats must have significant copper levels in their diet.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Loss of hair color
  • Coarse hair that has hooked end tips
  • Abortions
  • Stillbirths
  • Anemia
  • Frequent bone fractures
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased milk production.

Copper Toxicity:

Toxicity can occur by feeding too much copper. Goats need more copper than originally believed. But precisely how much copper is adequate or safe is not entirely known. And remember, this will vary from area to area!

*If possible work with a trained goat nutritionist knowledgeable about your area.

Iodine:

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Goiters
  • Newborns whose dams are iodine deficient can be born with goiters.
  • What is a goiter? “Goiter is a nutritional disease due to the enlargement of the thyroid gland (swelling located in the middle of the front of the neck below the jawline). It is caused by either an iodine deficiency or substances that interfere with the uptake of dietary iodine.” ~Source

Iron:

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Anemia caused by stomach worms, sucking lice, or blood loss
  • Excess iron can contribute to decreased fertility in goats.

Magnesium:

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Low urine production
  • Low milk production
  • May become anorexic.

Manganese:

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Slow growth rates in kids (especially buck kids),
  • Reduced fertility
  • Abortions in does
  • Improperly formed legs
  • Difficulty walking
  • *Too much calcium interferes with manganese absorption.

Molybdenum:

Molybdenum and copper amounts must be balanced or health problems occur. More than three (3) parts per million (ppm) of molybdenum binds copper, creating a copper deficiency.

Potassium:

Goats on forage usually get all the potassium they need. Penned animals need potassium added to their processed grain mix.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Emaciation
  • Muscle weakness

Salt:

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Licking the ground to get salt from the dirt.

Selenium:

This is a widespread problem in the United States. It is very important to find the specific information in your area by following the link listed above and/or contacting your extension agent.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • White Muscle Disease (causes difficulty in controlling muscles)
  • Newborns with weak rear legs
  • Kids to weak to nurse dams
  • Pneumonia from weakness in the muscles that control breathing.

Sulfur:

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Do not directly supplement sulfur, because it can bind up iron and copper.

Vitamin A:

An essential fat-soluble vitamin.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Difficulty in seeing or blindness
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Susceptibility to parasites
  • Scruffy hair coat
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fertility problems
  • Susceptible to diseases
  • Kids with coccidiosis need more Vitamin A because they have reduced intestinal absorption of nutrients.
  • *Vitamin A builds up in the body’s fatty tissues, so it must be supplemented carefully to avoid toxicity.

Vitamin B:

A sick goat must be supplemented with B vitamins, particularly Vitamin B 1 (thiamine). The B vitamins are water-soluble, so they need to be replenished daily. Because all B vitamins are water soluble, it is difficult to overdose them. Vitamin B12, an injectable red liquid requiring a vet prescription, is essential in the treatment of anemia.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Diarrhea depletes a goat’s body of B vitamins.
  • Rumens not functioning properly need a supplement of vitamin B (particularly B1–thiamine)
  • Goats with a drastic change of feed regimen need a supplement of  B1–thiamine
  • “Goat Polio” (polioencephalomalacia). Thiamine-deficient goats display rigid bent necks that won’t straighten and a loss of eye focus. The symptoms mimic those of tetanus and dehydration.

Vitamin D:

Penned goats must have Vitamin D added to their feed.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Enlarged joints
  • Bowed legs (rickets)

Vitamin E:

Symptoms to watch for:

  • White muscle disease
  • Feeding silage or old hay can produce Vitamin E deficiency

Water:

“A goat’s body is normally more than 60% water. Rumen contents must be about 70% water to function properly. Even a slight dip in water consumption can result in a goat with fever and off feed.” ~Source

Zinc:

Zinc is needed for the synthesis of proteins and DNA and in cell division.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Deformed hooves
  • Stiff joints
  • Chronic skin problems
  • Abnormally small testicles
  • Poor libido (reduced interest in mating)

Nutrition for people and animals is complex and requires a lot of information, study, and training to get it right. It is never advised to mix your own ratios and rations for animals. So many things can go wrong.

But we also have a responsibility to learn as much as possible and to keep a close eye on our animals for symptoms and changes in their diet, behavior, and surroundings.

You don’t want to be well on your way through a cold winter or during kidding season to find that your goats are starving for nutrition. Prevention is so much easier than trying to figure out exactly what you are dealing with.

Those situations are scary, frustrating and can become quite costly.

Get goat mineral out to your goats. They will thank you.  And you will have truly healthy goats.

And the worst of your problems will be who’s ears to scratch first. 🙂

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Delci Plouffe is passionate about teaching others how to be more self-sufficient and ultimately God-sufficient. Read Delci's inspiring comeback story, "From Bad Blood to Crazy Goat Lady." Feel free to send Delci a message here.

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