Goats and Copper
How to Recognize and Correct Copper Deficiency in Your Herd
It's important for every goat owner to know what their goats need to thrive and to know how your goats will tell you when they're not getting what they need. You can't just ask someone what they do and copy it. This course will NOT lay out a one-size-fits-all supplementation plan for everyone's herd. That's because what works in one herd could cause goats to die in another herd -- and it has happened. Now, before I scare you off, let me quickly say that figuring out how to supplement your goats is not hard. Your goats will tell you what they need. You just need to have the information so that you can understand what they're telling you. Do you know what your goats are telling you when ...
- does have slow, sluggish labors
- does don't pass their placentas for more than 24 hours after birth
- bucks don't get does pregnant
- does give birth prematurely to kids too small to survive
- goats' coats are faded so that a black goat looks red, a red goat is cream, and a cream goat is snow white
- goats are foaming at the mouth
- goats are balding on their face, especially on the bridge of their noses or around their eyes
- goats die from a relatively small load of internal parasites
You may think that there are drugs to treat these problems, and there are for some of them, but as a very wise old veterinarian once told me, drugs force the appearance of wellness in a sick animal. Even if the drugs cause the symptoms to disappear for awhile, you still have a goat that is not producing at its optimal level. That old vet also told me, "I've seen people go broke successfully treating sick animals." So, what's the answer?
Proper nutrition and supplementation
If you get nutrition right, everything else falls into place. If you get it wrong, you will have a world of heartache. All of the problems listed above are caused by a variety of nutritional deficiencies in either copper, selenium, calcium, or zinc. And that's just the beginning. Feeding choices, such as rotational grazing, browsing, hay, and grain choices affect your goats' health, as well as water and which minerals you provide and how you provide them.
In this course, you'll learn:
- how to read nutritional labels on goat feed and minerals
- which mineral should NOT be in your mixed minerals
- how well water can affect nutrient deficiencies
- symptoms of various nutrient deficiences
- pros and cons of various copper supplementation options
Who provides copper supplements for goats in the wild?
The problem with that question is that domesticated goats in most parts of North America are not living in a natural environment. Once we put up fences, we've stopped them from being able to look for what they need. Unfortunately for most of us, goats' natural environment is a desert or the mountains. Goats never lived in the wild on the prairie. We don't have an abundance of evergreens and browse for them to eat year-round. We don't have exposed mineral deposits in rocks that they can lick. Plus, many of us are giving them water to drink that was pumped up from a hundred feet below the ground, which is high in minerals that throw everything off balance.
In 2002, Deborah and her family moved to 32 acres on a creek in the middle of nowhere to grow their own food organically. With the help of goats, sheep, pigs, and poultry, they produce 100% of their meat, eggs, and dairy products, as well as a large percentage of their vegetables, fruit, and herbs. They sold chickens and turkeys for more than 10 years, and are currently a licensed egg producer in Illinois and sell eggs to a grocery store and through a CSA.
Deborah is the author of six books, including Homegrown and Handmade, Ecothrifty, and Raising Goats Naturally, as well as her latest book, Goats Giving Birth. She also teaches sustainable agriculture courses online for the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. She has been teaching Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably since 2013 and Pastured Poultry since 2015.
In 2022, Deborah got certified as a FAMACHA instructor so that she and her students could feel confident that she was providing the most up-to-date information on parasite research and management.