Article Index "Trace or Microminerals" Article Index

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By: M.E. Ensminger, J.E. Oldfield, W.W. Heinemann
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Nine trace of microminerals are required by goats. These are:
Cobalt, Copper, Molybdenum, fluorine, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Selenium and Zinc.

Goat rations are seldom deficient in trace minerals. However, for does in heavy lactation or for goats grazing on sandy soils, it may be advisable to supply a limited amount of a broad-based trace mineral mixture to guard against possible deficiencies. Care should be taken when using a trace mineral mixture because of the many interrelationships among the minerals which affect their availability for absorption.

Cobalt (Co)1

Cobalt is a component of vitamin B-12, for the synthesis of which it is essential. In sheep, a cobalt intake of 0.1 ppm is considered adequate. It is postulated that the same level is adequate for goats.

Cobalt should be ingested frequently, preferably daily. This is best accomplished by adding cobalt to the salt at a level of 5.45 g/100 lb of salt, fed free-choice.

Deficiency signs include loss of appetite, emaciation, weakness, anemia, and decreased production.

Copper (Cu) and Molybdenum (Mo)1

Copper and molybdenum are interrelated in animal metabolism; hence, herein they are considered together. The most common problem occurs when a normal or low level of copper is accompanied by a high level of molybdenum. In this case, copper is excreted and a deficiency occurs. This condition can be corrected by adding copper.

Few studies on copper and molybdenum have been conducted with goats. It appears that sheep are sensitive to copper toxicity and resistant to molybdenosis, but it is not known whether this is also the case with goats.

Fluorine (F)1

In small amounts, fluorine helps develop strong bones and teeth, but in excessive amounts bones become porous and soft and teeth become mottled and easily worn down. Fluorine deficiency is rare; rather, the hazard is fluorine toxicity, which may be caused by high fluorine levels in ground water or in crude mineral supplements (raw rock phosphate).

Iodine (I)1

Iodine is necessary for the formation of thyroxine, a hormone of the thyroid gland. A deficiency of iodine results in an enlargement of the thyroid gland, a condition called goiter. Also, kids may be born weak or dead. Iodine-deficient areas are widespread throughout the world, including parts of the United States (in northwestern United States, and in the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain regions). Deficiencies are readily corrected by feeding iodized salt. Iodized salt should not be used for the purpose of limiting feed consumption because it could lead to excessive intakes of iodine. Please see also the map of "Iodine Deficient Soils" in the United States.

Iron (Fe)1

Iron is a component of blood hemoglobin that is required for oxygen transport. It is also required for some enzyme systems. Although iron deficiency seldom occurs in mature grazing animals, it may occur in young goat kids because of their minimal body stores of iron at birth and the iron content of milk.

If an iron deficiency is observed in young kids on a milk diet, injection of iron-dextran (150 mg) at 2 to 3 weeks intervals is recommended. Ferrous sulfate and ferric citrate are recommended for incorporations in rations. A level of 45 ppm of iron in an as-fed ration appears to be adequate.

Manganese (Mn)1

Manganese is an essential mineral in the ration of goats, required for skeletal development and reproductive efficiency.

Deficiency symptoms are: reluctance to walk, deformity of the fore legs, delayed estrus, more inseminations per conception, more abortions, and 20% reduction in birth weights.

In an experiment involving two groups of female goats for the first year of life - with one group on low manganese, 20 ppm for the first year of life and 6 ppm during the following year; and the controls receiving 100 ppm - the low manganese ration did not affect growth or bone structure, but it did affect reproduction adversely.2

Selenium (Se)1

Selenium is essential, but only in minute amounts. It is a component of glutathione peroxidase, the metabolic role of which is to protect against oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids and resultant tissue damage. Also, selenium is interrelated with vitamin E - they spare each other, and with the sulfur-containing amino acids.

All livestock species, including goats, are susceptible to selenium toxicity. Selenium toxicity in sheep occurs from prolonged consumption of plants containing over 3 ppm selenium. It is postulated that the toxicity level for goats is about the same as for sheep.

Zinc (Zn)1

Zinc is essential for goats. Deficiency symptoms include reduced feed intake, weight loss, parakeratosis, stiffness of joints, excessive salivation, swelling of the feet and horny overgrowth, small testicles, and low libido. Zinc must be supplied continuously because little is stored in the body in readily available form. Direct and indirect evidence indicates minimum ration requirements of 10 ppm. Levels of 1,000 ppm may be toxic.

1 1990; Feeds & Nutrition; M.E. Ensminger, J.E. Oldfield, W.W. Heinemann
2 Nutrient Requirements of Sheep, NRC--National Academy of Sciences, 1985, p. 19.

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