It’s a common misconception that goats are ravenous for absolutely anything and everything in sight – be it actual feed, your favourite rose bush, cactus, socks etc. In fact, they are quite selective. Known as ‘browsers’, they prefer to look for leaves, twigs, bushes and shrubs so if you’re after a lawn mower, get a sheep or two!
So, you may be thinking, of all the wild rangeland goats found in the country, there’s not some little mineral fairy laying out buckets of extra minerals to ensure they’re healthy and deficiencies are kept at bay. And you’d be right. But they’re also not fenced in to a few acres and range across thousands of acres of land to seek out what they need – goats are smart, they know what they need and seek to find it.
Depending on how your goats are kept and fed (pasture, hay, grain, forage, or a mix of these) you may need to supplement their diet with minerals to maintain optimal health. For instance, if on pasture, you need to look at what trace minerals in your soil are readily available and what they lack.
The most common mineral deficiencies in cattle, sheep and goats in Australia are of copper, selenium, cobalt and phosphorus.
Some of the symptoms of the above deficiencies include the following:
Copper deficiency – Rough coat, poor growth and appetite, diarrhoea.
Selenium deficiency – Reproductive issues (conception rates, still births and miscarriages), retained placentas, deliver weak kids – often can’t walk or won’t suckle
Cobalt / B12 deficiency – Loss of appetite, muscle wasting and weight loss, anaemia, heavy worm burden
Phosphorus deficiency – Poor growth, soft bones and fractures, infertility, unkempt appearance, pica (depraved appetite eating wood, rocks…)
As mentioned above, depending on if your goats are on pasture/hay or getting mineral fortified supplements elsewhere such as in fortified grain or muesli, you provide a mineral block (everyone has a different opinion on these for goats) or give free choice minerals, you may also introduce a mineral mix such as the one below that we use and mix with their hard feed.
GOAT MINERAL MIX
3 kg Dolamite (high in Calcium and Magnesium)
500g Yellow Dusting Sulphur (Feed Sulphur)
500g Copper Sulphate
500g Seaweed Meal / Kelp (this is rich in Selenium)
Mix together all of the above and give ½ teaspoon daily (per head) in barley flakes, goat muesli etc.