Goats and Minerals

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Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne with goat kid, courtesy of Metro.news

I bet you didn’t know goats are really into some heavy metal. Now before you go and turn on some Black Sabbath for your herd, let me clarify. Goats need certain minerals like copper and selenium to stay healthy. A goat with mineral deficiencies will have skin and coat problems, fertility issues, and even neurological problems. A good mineral blend left out free-choice for your goats should meet their mineral nutrition needs. Mineral blocks are not accessible enough for goats, and goats are more likely to climb on them and pee than use them for nutrition.

If you have been in the goat community for long, no doubt you have heard about people bolusing their goats with copper or selenium (BoSe) on a regular schedule or in response to suspected health problems. WE DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS IN COLORADO. Our soil is unusually high in copper and selenium. Goats foraging or eating Colorado hay will have naturally high levels of these minerals. Our soil is also high in molybdenum which displaces copper in the body; this is why a free-choice mineral containing copper should be offered to goats. Bolusing your goats can lead to copper or selenium toxicity which can be fatal. Blood tests can be done to check mineral levels in your goats, but are not very accurate. The best measure of mineral levels can be found in the liver. If a goat in your herd dies, consider sending a liver sample to Colorado State University Veterinary Hospital. The results will be a good indicator of mineral levels in your herd. Keep in mind, a sample from a new kid will actually be more of a reflection of the health of his dam.

If you are curious about the mineral levels in your area, you can check with your county extension office, or find your county on these maps (copper, selenium).

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