Mineral Deficiency in Goats

Since we began our journey with raising Nigerian Dwarf goats in 2018, we have struggled with the nutritional requirements for both the micro mineral and macro mineral needs for our goats. Most, if not all goat owners have heard about selenium deficiency in goats (Michigan is deficient in Selenium) and are aware that goats require a 2:1 ratio of calcium/phosphorus in their diet to avoid urinary calculi or blockage of the urinary tract. We know goats require copper in their diet to remain healthy but what else do they need? There is no One A Day Goat Vitamin!

Most would think since they feed a free choice goat mineral, they are providing their goat with the necessary nutritional requirements for their mineral needs.

After doing a lot of reading and research on goat minerals, we have found that not all minerals on the market provide the necessary micro and macro minerals needed for goats to thrive which could result in deficiencies. There was not a "complete" or the "best" free choice mineral for goats. They all seem to have differing amounts of micro and macro minerals.

When it comes to research for our animals, we tend to turn to universities and extension services for our sources. Langston University, which is well known for their goat research listed the micro and macro minerals requirements for a goat's diet based on their research. Those minerals include:

Macro Minerals as % of diet

Mineral Minimum Maximum

Calcium 0.30 0.80

Phosphorus 0.25 0.40

Sodium 0.20 -

Potassium 0.80 2.0

Chloride 0.20 -

Sulfur 0.20 0.32

Magnesium 0.18 0.40

Micro Minerals, ppm in diet

Iron 50 1000

Copper 10 80

Cobalt 0.10 10

Zinc 40 500

Manganese 40 1000

Selenium 0.10 0.30

Molybdenum 0.10 3

Iodine 0.50 50

Based on Langston's mineral information, we began looking at free choice minerals to feed our herd and began by looking at the ingredients. What we found was interesting. Below we will list a few of the comparisons we made.

We looked at four free-choice goat minerals that are available in our area. Of those brands, 3 we know are national brands and should be available in all 50 states and possibly Canada.

All contained copper at various PPM (parts per million) listed as 1350 ppm minimum, Copper PPM Min 2500 min to 2700 max; Copper 1,750 min 1,810 max and not less than 3,807 ppm

Zinc - min 5500 ppm, 7500 ppm, 1.20% and not less than 10,893 ppm or 1.09%

None of the goat minerals contained any Iron.

Only two of the four goat minerals listed potassium (min 1.50% and Min 0.10%)

Selenium - One did not have any selenium; the others listed min 50 ppm, min 12 ppm, min 25 ppm max 30 ppm.

As the examples show, none of the minerals available on the market contains every micro and macro mineral required in a goats diet. Many of the mineral mixes contained more than Langston's research listed.

Langston noted that excess supplementation of some minerals can cause toxicity problems especially with copper and selenium. The feed and hay must be looked at in terms of mineral content and further supplementation may be required.

While we were looking for the "best" mineral on the market for our goats, we found there is no "best" mineral mix for our goats. We will need to look at their feed, additional supplements we use, having our hay analyzed and develop our plan from there.

When it come to supplying goat minerals, it will require continual monitoring, we concluded there is no silver bullet. A consult with your ruminant veterinarian would be a good start.

We think the best advice would be to pick the goat mineral supplement that offers the best supplementation based upon your area needs, supplement if indicated based upon your feeding regime and circumstances and hope for the best!

Here you can see we feed free choice minerals, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and Thoravin Brand Sea Kelp to supplement our goat's diet.

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