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The goat barn: Minerals are a vital part of goat nutrition.

As a rule of thumb, minerals are fed free-choice and vitamins in or on the goats' concentrate rations. Excesses of minerals can throw a tremendous strain on the kidneys, and some are toxic in excess (selenium, copper and others). Giving minerals in a free-choice feeder is making use of the goats' inbuilt ability to consume the minerals they need. Small amounts of the major and trace minerals are included in many feed formulations to assure that goats will get some--they will select for their additional needs if given the chance.

We have tested many feed products over the years and will give some suggestions for supplemental feeds for improving goat health and production.

A/D/E oil is a potent mix of carrot and wheat germ oils that supplies 5,000 I.U. of vitamin A and 4,000 of D, plus E per gram (about 40 drops). Add a few drops to milk for kids, or pour over the grain ration.

Aqua-Vite (Nutritional Research Associates) is a very concentrated water-soluble vitamin mixture made by the NRA for use in drinking water. We add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to 2-1/2 gallons of water two times a day at milking time, when we can supply heated water, and all of our goats enjoy the taste. The analysis per pound is as follows:
Vitamin Units

A 2,000,000
D3 370,000
E 650
K 840 mg.
Thiamin 1,000 mg.
Folic acid 23 mg.
C 1,800 mg.
Niacin 4,800 mg.
Riboflavin 3,300 mg.
Pantothenic acid 1,800 mg.
Pyridoxine 370 mg.
B12 2.8 mg.

It can be added to feed if desired. The suggested rate is one ounce per 10 pounds of feed.

Beet pulp: Dried (available from NRA and sometimes feed stores), is high in iron and calcium as well as other minerals. It's useful as an appetite stimulant for picky goats and does off feed. However, do not feed to bucks, as it causes temporary sterility. It is inexpensive and will usually cause does to clean up their grain to the last lick! It may help reduce scours. It will "bulk" feeds and satisfy the appetites of those goats that never seem to get enough grain to satisfy their appetites, yet gain weight easily.

Kelp Meal: Made of dried seaweed, and goats--particularly does and kids--love it. We feed it free-choice in our cafeteria-style mineral feeder and it is the first to disappear. Kelp meal supplies the greatest variety of trace minerals of any product, including many that are known to have a function in animal nutrition, but the specific function is not clearly understood. The kelp plant most used is Ascopbyllum nodosum. Kelp meal is high in calcium and if you feed it along with beet pulp and alfalfa hay, you must have good sources of phosphorus available--yeasts, monosodium and dicalcium phosphates.

This is a complete analysis. Don't be dismayed at the readings of such things as gold, silver, uranium, lead, etc. If you had access to complete analysis of the grains and hays you feed, you'd find levels of these also--probably much higher! Researchers continue to seek the functions of micro- and macro-nutrients in nutrition and there is believed to be a need, tiny though it may be, for minerals such as chromium, silicon, tin, lithium, even aluminum. As work continues, these needs and usages will hopefully be uncovered. Meanwhile, your goats know a good thing when they sniff it!

Monosodium Phosphate: A calcium-free source of phosphorous, to be offered to goats free-choice, either as is or mixed one-to-one with salt. Though they are not wild about the flavor, try feeding them grass hays a few days, then alfalfa hay and watch--every time they have alfalfa (or beet pulp, kelp meal, etc.) their consumption of monosodium phosphate will increase. Dicalcium phosphate (available from NRA) supplies 21% phosphorus and 15% calcium and is quite palatable. We keep the two available free-choice at all times--the goats will lick one and then the other until they are satisfied.

Special Goat Mineral: A complete trace mineral/salt mix developed especially for free-choice feeding to goats. It has no flavorings or other additives and goats will eat it readily. It is, in our opinion, the finest trace mineral mix for goats on the market, and one we use regularly.

This can be supplied without the selenium for areas where it is adequate in forages.

Special Goat Mineral is now available in two versions: one with grass/hay and one with alfalfa hay or alfalfa.

Super Carayed: A feed supplement that we would not like to be without. A favorite of ours, Carayed, is available in two forms, 220D and 1100D. Both are meals containing carrot oil, carotene in oil, lecithin, wheat germ oil, wheat middlings, pulverized oats and alfalfa meal. Carayed looks and smells good enough to eat! The goats think so too, and will eat all you are willing to give them. Carayed supplies 10% crude protein, 10% crude fat, and 18% crude fiber. Both forms supply 250,000 units vitamin A (150 mg. carotene) and 90 units vitamin E per pound. 1200D supplies 500,000 units of vitamin D, while 220D supplies 100,000 units. We supply our goats with the 1200D in the winter and 220D in summer when the days are longer and the goats get access to more sunshine. NRA suggests feeding at the rate of one tablespoon per goat per day. We feed this and often much more, especially to goats with watery eyes, a runny nose or any other respiratory problem. It has been used successfully as an adjunct to therapy for pinkeye. NRA also makes Carex, which is Carayed without any vitamin D (but the same A and E potency), and Super Caradol, an oil with the carotene that gives Carayed its A potency.

Vitamin C is available in two forms: sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid. We add some to the goats' drinking water daily and suggest that it be kept on hand for the treatment of udder edema or hard udder. Goats will lick both forms out of a free-choice feeder, but this is probably not a good way to supply it as it is likely to be denatured when exposed to light and air. It would be better to use the non-soluble version which is also readily eaten from the feeder.

Vitamin E is provided in most feeds, but usually in only token amounts. Feed extra E to does and bucks beginning a few weeks before breeding, to does that have or have had mastitis and to goats with any problems that involve scar tissue such as pneumonia, lungworm, burns, scrapes, etc. Vitamin E powder that provides 200 I.U. per teaspoon is available. It is remarkable to observe the reduction in heavy panting following the giving of this E to a goat that has pneumonia. E is non-toxic--up to 5,000 I.U. have been given to old animals, after surgery, and those suffering from lungworm and pneumonia. E is thought to protect the heart and increase lifespan. The only reason it is not provided in feeds in greater quantity is because of the cost of this supplement.

Yeasts: Available in two types--Vita-Yeast 20 is a live-cell yeast, and dried brewer's yeast. The two are used very differently. Vita-Yeast 20 is a high-protein feed--20% crude protein with 3% crude fat and 8% crude fiber, made up of the yeast grown and dormatized on yellow corn meal, soybean meal, barley malt, corn byproducts, cane molasses, wheat middlings, wheat bran, wheat germ, oats and milk by-products. Yeast is regarded as the best source of vitamin B. Vita-Yeast contains enzymes that help digest carbohydrates, assist in the splitting of feed proteins, reduces fiber to simpler carbohydrate and assists with the changing of fats and oils in feeds to more digestible compounds.

It slows digestion so that the food eaten is available for a longer period of time. It will raise butterfat levels, and one of its most valuable assets is the prevention of bloat--its complement of lactic ferments and enzymes gets the rumen "cooking" at peak efficiency.

Vita-Yeast 20 can be fed free-choice (we suggest small amounts at a time and to monitor it so the boss goats don't get it all), but it's best to mix it in the feed or top-dress. It increases the palatability of concentrate rations and goats will often eat yeasts when they won't eat otherwise. We consider it an essential feed for goats--its high phosphorus level helps balance calcium-rich alfalfa, beet pulp and kelp meal. One or more ounces per feeding is suggested. Moldy feeds contain B-vitamin antagonists, feeding the food yeasts will help prevent the damage that these antagonists can do. (Toxins such as aflatoxin, produced by some molds, is one of the most potent poisons and carcinogens known.) Vita-Yeast is also very useful in getting sick goats back on feed.

Brewer's yeast, on the other hand, lacks the live cells. It is even higher in vitamin and mineral potency and is 40% protein, but it must be fed with caution because it can bloat animals, like any high-protein feed. It should never be fed free-choice. We add one teaspoon to one tablespoon on top of each concentrate feeding along with the Vita-Yeast 20--goats love them both.

We have a shelf in our milking parlor on which we keep large-mouth plastic jars containing the various vitamin supplements we use. It is a simple matter to remove the lids at the beginning of chore time and spoon out the supplements onto each pan of grain offered. One could also make up a premix of the vitamin supplement and spoon that onto the grain, or even mix it into the grain in advance, but you wouldn't have the flexibility of individually supplementing your goats according to their needs and desires.

This article first appeared in COUNTRYSIDE, March 1985

The source of the supplements we recommend is Nutritional Research Associates, Box 354, So. Whitley, IN 46787; ph. (800) 456-4931; fax (219) 723-6297.

There are a number of other suppliers who provide vitamin and mineral supplements, and many of these are of very high quality. They are not listed here because we have not tried them; many do not tailor their products for goats; some supply supplements with flavorings added; a lengthy listing would require a lot of space and would quickly become outdated. The omission of competing brands is not in any way intended to disparage them, but rather is due to the fact that we have not tested their products extensively, if at all.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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