Friday, January 10, 2014

Goats and Copper

Our sheep and goats live together and that has never been a problem. But, in the last couple of years we have had more health problems with our goats. We raise our animals on pasture, so they have a plant based diet along with fresh water and free choice salt/ mineral mix.

We purchase a loose salt/mineral mix with selenium added, without the copper, that we have available out on pasture. Copper is toxic to sheep so the goat mineral mix is not an option.
The goats do get supplemented grain when we are milking, along with the grain, I add a salt/mineral mix that is made for goats that has the added copper.
After some studying, I think that our goats are not getting enough copper and that may be the cause of some of our problems.

I was purchasing some livestock supplies from Sheepman Supply company when I came across a product called Copasure, which is a Copper Bolus. What caught my eye was this statement:

 Great for goats that live with sheep. The bolus stays in the folds of the stomach for a few months so it provides a long-term, slow release of copper supplement. One dose lasts for up to eight months. Usually one dose per year is sufficient. Should be administered with a balling gun.

I did a little research online and seen that this may be exactly what our goats need.  I added them to my order. I have to admit when I pulled them out of the box my first reaction was WOW!, these are huge!! How am I suppose to get the goats to swallow these?? I have never had to use a balling gun before so I was a little apprehensive.

I got online and found several youtube videos on copper boluses and how to administer them.
I was surprised to see people breaking them open and adding them to feed etc. I did some more research and talked with a friend of mine who has been raising goats for many years and she told me to only administer the bolus with a balling gun, whole!  So no easy out!

Delaney and I managed to give all 5 goats their dose. Did I mention these things were HUGE!
We did Soapapilla first, the most difficult goat, and after several failed attempts (her managing to spit it  out) we finally had success.  The other four were much easier. The nice thing is that you do not have to give them very often. I have read 1-2 times a year.

I am very hopeful that we will see some positive results.

Some of the symptoms of Copper Deficiency in goats:
~Their hair can look rough, faded, long and bushy
~Less able to fight off Parasites
~Tail tip is bald
We have noticed that the goats do not seem to have the same resistance to parasites that our sheep do. We are hoping that this will help with some of the problems we have been having.
The goats get the copper they need without putting the sheep at risk.

For more information on Copper Deficiency in Goats:

Just a reminder of how important it is to make sure our animals are getting the minerals they need.
I am hoping for some positive results.

DISCLAIMER: These are my own observations and opinions. Please do your own research!

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  1. Copper is very important to goats, I agree. I tried many other routes to get my goats up to snuff with their copper levels, but I wound up with the Copasure as well. However, upon investigation, I disovered most people agree that you don't have to bolus the goats, but you can instead hide the rods in things and let them eat it instead. That's the route I have gone, and I have found it to work.

    PS--It'll take about a month to start to see results, but when you do see them, they are dramatic! Just my experience.

    1. Thank you for passing on your experience. I did read where some were using that method. I was going to try that but was nervous about my goats chewing the bonus and breaking it open.
      Glad to hear you had positive results!!

  2. Administering those huge pills does not sound like much fun. Interesting information on raising goats :)

  3. Very informative post. I hope I don't ever have to do this!

  4. Here in Central California we are copper and selenium deficient too. I was so afraid the first time I copper bolused my goats but they didn't seem to mind at all. I'm your newest follower and I look forward to reading more about you and your farm.

  5. That was a very useful post, thank you, Sandra. Pinning!

  6. I'm glad you figured out what they were missing. I bet it was hard to give them the pills! But good thing you don't have to do it too often. It really does sound like a great solution for a copper deficiency. Hope it works well for your goats.

  7. Deborah Niemann at Antiquity Oaks has a great blog. She has talked quite a bit about problems with her goats and copper deficiency. I think she just published a book about goats too.

    1. Thanks for passing that on Liz, I am always looking for a good book!


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