Article Index "Helping Our Goats To Optimum Health (Part 2)" Article Index

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By: "Linda Carlson"
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Again, I would like to start out by saying: I am not a Doctor or Veterinarian. Nor is the following information intended to replace professional Veterinarian care. I am sharing information that I have learned through experience, study and reading. Some parts of this article are my personal opinions, while others are facts and ideas that come from books and studies that I have read.

Consider the minerals we give our animals. We make sure they have access to it at all times. Thus, we trust their judgment to eat what they need, how much they need and when they need it. And we don't worry about them over doing it.

Its highly unlikely that we will ever give our animals "to much" vitamins or minerals. The reason for this is simple. Most people have no concept of what a TRUE massive dose is. We have grown so used to reading RDA's (recommended daily allowances) for people, that we are brainwashed into believing anything more than the RDA may be toxic. How many of us ever read studies done to prove otherwise? I know I have read many. What we should be more concerned with is if they are getting enough.

What do minerals have to do with a healthy animal? Minerals are elements that a body needs in order to create specific molecules needed in the body. Some of the most common minerals needed and their basic functions are:

  • Copper: Involved in Iron metabolism, nervous system function, bone health, synthesis of proteins and plays a big role in pigmentation of skin, hair and eyes.
  • Iodine: Helps regulate growth development, metabolism. Necessary for normal thyroid function.
  • Iron: Needed for red blood cell formation and function.
  • Magnesium: Activates nearly 100 enzymes and helps nerves and muscle function. Works with Calcium.
  • Phosphorus: Works with calcium to develop and maintain strong bones & teeth. Enhances the use of other nutrients. Essential for energy metabolism, DNA structure and cell membranes.
  • Potassium: Maintains fluid balance.
  • Selenium: Necessary for normal growth, development use of iodine in thyroid function. May reduce risk of certain cancers.
  • Zinc: Essential part of more than 100 enzymes involved in digestion, reproduction and wound healing.
  • Manganese: Necessary for normal development of skeletal and connective tissues. Involved in metabolism of carbohydrates.
  • Calcium: Essential for developing and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Assists in blood clotting, muscle contractions, nerve transmissions and much more.

Whatís listed above is very "basic" functions for these minerals. New studies are being done daily and much more information has come to light. There is enormous scientific evidence on the importance of other minerals, such as Potassium, magnesium and sodium, substantial amounts of Calcium are considered to be critical to health. Many experts say calcium is crucial in the prevention of cancer, in DNA synthesis, in extending life and in the treatment and prevention of disease. The majority of these studies are on humans. But, we must always keep in mind. Humans are also animals. Generally what is needed in the human body is no different than what is needed in our animalís bodies other than the amounts may vary and, there is far more information regarding these subjects (studies) for humans than for animals. Much of the information I have found about animals and needed nutrients equate their findings to human studies.

Yes, our animals have their free choice minerals and eat all they want. But, is there enough of every mineral they need in there?? More importantly, is their body absorbing and using everything they are eating? Answer to both question: Possibly. Who knows for sure? So there we are, again, wondering if they are getting all they need to keep the body and that immune system in peak performance.

Many minerals available for animals have a list of ingredients with the percent of each mineral listed as a maximum or minimum. Example: Magnesium - MIN 1.00%.. What information are we receiving from this? That thereís a minimum of 1.00% of Magnesium in the container. Is that enough? Just how much is it really? What guide did the manufacture use? And if it says that there is a minimum of 1.00% there actually could be more? We, as humans are trained to read and maybe understand milligrams or RDA's.

So, are our animals being offered enough Magnesium?

There are far to many variables to know for sure. You may be raising goats in an area that is low in selenium and copper, for example. Another goat breeder may live in an area where selenium and copper are high. You both feed your animals the same brand of minerals. Both herds eat these minerals at a similar rate. What does this tell us? Since its a mix of many minerals its impossible for the goats to separate them. Consequently they are certainly likely to get "more" of some of the minerals while trying to get all that they need of others. I don't see this as a bad thing because the guides that manufacturers follow are usually for very low doses. In my opinion, its usually far to low. So, no harm done. They are not going to OD on to many minerals. My question is still - are they getting enough?

If you need proof of just how important a role minerals play in our animals health just ask other breeders. I have talked to breeders who live in very deficient areas of the US. Some of these breeders have told me how previously they had not been using a specific breed mineral. Some used no minerals and others used a general mineral block that was usually made for a breed other than what they were raising. When these breeders started using a good breed specific mineral (Free choice of course) they found very beneficial changes in their herds over all health.

At this point itís obvious how crucial the proper amounts of minerals are to our animals health.

In part 3 of this series the topic will be Vitamins.

About the author: Linda Carlson has owned and raised a variety of livestock and pets for more than 35 years. At this time she raises a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats along with her husband, on a small farm in central Montana.

She has dedicated much of her time over the last 10 years to learning about natural nutrients and alternatives. Specifically, the benefits of natural nutrients for optimum health for people and animals. She enjoys sharing what she has learned with others through conversations, writing and on her website "Natures Power". She shares her information based on personal experience, experiences of others, books and studies done on the topics of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. You can find out more by visiting her website at or by writing to:
Linda Carlson
Box 517
Vaughn, Mt. 59487

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