What minerals do goats require?

Goats July 05, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF
To achieve maximum production levels, it is necessary to provide a free choice complete goat mineral supplement or a 50:50 mix of trace mineralized salt and dicalcium phosphate. In addition, goats need the following: Calcium: Major functions include blood clotting, membrane permeability, muscle contraction, nerve function, cardiovascular functions, and enzyme activity. Adequate levels of calcium for lactating goats are necessary to prevent parturient paresis (milk fever). In browsing or grain-fed goats, the addition of a calcium supplement (dicalcium phosphate, limestone, etc.) to the feed or to a salt or trace mineral-salt mixture usually meets calcium requirements. Legumes (e.g., clover, alfalfa, kudzu) are also good sources of calcium. Phosphorus: Works in combination with calcium bone formation and is essential for cell growth, energy utilization, and acid:base balance, and is required by rumen microbes for optimal growth and activity. Phosphorus deficiency results in slowed growth and an unthrifty appearance. Lactating goats can maintain milk production on phosphorus-deficient diets for several weeks by using phosphorus from body reserves, but during long periods of phosphorus deficiency, milk production was shown to decline by 60%. The calcium:phosphorus ratio should be maintained between 1:1 and 2:1, preferably 1.2-1.5:1 in goats due to their predisposition for urinary calculi. Magnesium: Its primary function is in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and is a component in many enzyme systems. Magnesium deficiency is associated with grass tetany, but ordinarily this condition is less common in grazing goats. Goats do have an ability to compensate for low magnesium by decreasing the amount of magnesium they excrete via the urine and that used for milk production. Potassium: Functions to keep the correct fluid balance throughout the body and has an important role in metabolism. Forages generally are quite rich in potassium, so a deficiency in grazing goats would be extremely rare. Iron: Iron has an important role in cellular respiration and oxygen transport via hemoglobin. Iron deficiency is seldom seen in adult grazing goats, but more commonly in kids fed in complete confinement. Iron deficiency can be prevented by access to pasture or a good-quality trace mineral salt containing iron. In severe cases, and for kids reared in confinement, administer iron dextran injections at two- to three-week intervals (150 mg, IM). Iodine: Iodine is associated with the thyroid hormones that regulate the rate of metabolism. Conditional iodine deficiency may develop with normal to marginal iodine intake in goats consuming goitrogenic plants such as cottonseed and soybean meal. Severe deficiency of iodine results in an enlarged thyroid; poor growth; small, weak kids at birth; and poor reproductive ability. Iodine should be provided in stabilized salt. Zinc: Important factor in stress management, immune response, enzyme systems, and protein synthesis. Zinc deficiency results in parakeratosis, stiffness of joints, smaller testicles, and lowered libido. A minimal level of 10 ppm of zinc in the diet, or a trace mineral salt mixture of 0.5 to 2% zinc, prevents deficiencies. Excessive dietary calcium (alfalfa) may increase the likelihood of zinc deficiency in goats. Selenium: Deficient in most areas of the Southeast. Many commercial trace mineralized salts are devoid of selenium. Selenium and vitamin E work together to prevent white muscle disease and retained placentas and to reduce susceptibility to worms and disease. Water requirements: Water is involved in almost all of the body’s normal functions. As with the other nutrients discussed, needs vary with age and stage of production. A good rule of thumb is that does early in lactation typically have the highest requirements along with times of intense environmental heat where forages are extremely dry. Other factors that may affect individual water requirements include water content of forage consumed, amount of exercise, and salt and mineral content of the diet. Because water is crucial for optimal production, growth, and performance, it is vital that all goats have access to unlimited amounts of fresh, clean high-quality water. Please see Goat Nutrition Minerals for additional information. Peterson, T. E. 2008. Nutritional Management for Meat Goats. In: Certified Master Goat Program at Florida A&M University.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.