Goat Nutrition Vitamins

Goats March 16, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Contents

Vitamins

Nutrients

Vitamins function as critical chemicals in the body’s metabolic machinery and function as cofactors in many metabolic processes. A deficiency of a vitamin will slow or block the metabolic process in which that vitamin is involved, resulting in deficiency symptoms. Vitamins are divided into those that are fat soluble -- that is, A, D, E and K -- and those that are water soluble -- B vitamins and C.

The bacteria in the rumen of the goat can synthesize adequate amounts of the water soluble vitamins. Thiamine, or vitamin B1, may become deficient under some conditions -- for example, feeding a high-concentrate diet, especially with high sulfur that may come from a high level of molasses. A thiamine deficiency can cause the disease polioencephalomalacia. Another situation that could lead to thiamine deficiency is improper feeding of the coccidiostat Corid®. The coccidiostat ties up thiamine, making the coccidia unable to reproduce. Feeding Corid® longer or at higher levels than recommended could lead to polioencephalomalacia. Polioencephalomalacia is a nervous disorder in which the animal becomes blind, depressed and presses with his head; and the pupil slit in the eyes becomes vertical rather than horizontal, which is the norm. Treatment requires immediate injection of large quantities of thiamine.

B12


Fat-soluble vitamins must be supplied to the goat because the body cannot directly make them. The recommended level of vitamins in formulated feed is 5,000 international units (IU) -- a measure of the potency of vitamins -- of vitamin A per pound, 2,000 IU per-pound of vitamin D, and 20 IU per pound of Vitamin E. The liver can store significant amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A can be synthesized from carotene, the pigment that gives grass and hay their green color. As long as sufficient green feed is consumed, vitamin A intake will be adequate. Vitamin A is necessary for normal epithelium , or skin, development and vision. A deficiency of vitamin A causes many symptoms, including tearing of the eyes, diarrhea, susceptibility to respiratory infection and reproduction problems. Vitamin A is often supplied to animals not consuming green forage such as in winter months. Many mineral and vitamin supplements contain vitamin A.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because animals can synthesize the vitamin with the help of the sun. Ultraviolet light in sunshine converts pre-vitamin D found in the skin to a pro-vitamin D form that is used by the animals. Usually, even limited sunlight exposure is adequate to provide a day’s supply of vitamin D. Sun-cured hay contains vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and metabolism by the body. A deficiency of vitamin D, called rickets, results in lameness, weak bones and bowed and crooked legs. The liver is the main vitamin D storage site in the body. Vitamin D is normally present in mineral supplements and often added to complete feeds.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant in conjunction with the mineral selenium. The requirements for one can be partially met by the other. Thus, vitamin E is very important in areas with marginal or deficient levels of selenium. A common vitamin E deficiency disease, particularly in newborn or young animals, is white muscle disease, in which white spots are seen in the heart and skeletal muscle due to oxidation damage. A marginal deficiency of vitamin E can depress the immune system and cause reproductive failure. Green grass and green sun-cured hay have high levels of vitamin E. Most mineral supplements and complete feeds contain vitamin E, especially in areas that are deficient in selenium. Vitamin E is expensive and minimal supplemental levels are used in contrast to vitamins A and D that are less expensive and often included at generous levels.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is technically required by animals and functions in the clotting of blood. Vitamin K is produced by bacteria in the digestive tract and absorbed. Generally, goats do not need to be supplemented with vitamin K.

Reference: Hart, S. 2008. Meat Goat Nutrition. Pages 58-83 in Proc. 23rd Ann. Goat Field Day, Langston University, Langston, OK.