"Vitamins - Goats and Nutrition" Back To Goats and Nutrition Menu

Typical range or pasture diets of goats usually contain adequate levels of vitamins or vitamin precursors to maintain the normal health of goats. However, young kids, goats kept in confinement, and high-producing dairy goats may need supplemental vitamins.

Vitamin A1

Vitamin A is not contained in forages, but its precursors, the carotenes, are common in plants. Beta-carotene is the standard form of provitamin A. One milligram of beta-carotene is equivalent to approximately 400 IU of vitamin A.

Vitamin A deficiencies are likely to occur during extended dry periods when the supply of green forage is limited, or when poor-quality hays are fed. Hays that are badly weathered or have been stored for long periods generally have lost most of their carotene; hence, vitamin A should be supplemented.

Goats that are deficient in vitamin A exhibit night-blindeness, poor reproductive performance, a keratinization of the epithelial cells throughout the body, and bone deformities. Vitamin A supplements can be administered two ways: (1) as an additive to feed, or (2) as an intramuscular injectable in a slow-release form.

Vitamin D1

Since vitamin D is abundant in sun-cured forages and can be synthesized in the body through exposure to sunlight, there is little need for dietary supplementation. It is noteworthy, however, that the physiological requirements for vitamin D increase when there is an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus. Young kids that are housed without adequate exposure to sunlight should be given supplemental vitamin D.

Vitamin E1

Vitamin E is normally found in large quantities in goat rations, and supplementation is not necessary. In dairy goats, the vitamin E transferred to the milk is important because of its antioxidant properties that aid in milk storage.

Vitamin K1

In adult goats, the microorganisms of the functioning rumen synthesize vitamin K.

Water-Soluble Vitamins1

Unlike monogastric animals, goats do have the ability to synthesize a number of vitamins, due primarily to the action of the ruminal microflora. In adult goats, the microorganisms of the functioning rumen synthesize the B complex vitamins. Vitamin C is synthesized in the tissues. However, when the newborn kid starts to eat, the rumen is not well developed and the microflora of the rumen are not of suficient magnitude to synthesize adequate amounts of the B vitamins; hence, the B complex vitamins are supplied through the milk or milk replacer.

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.

Vitamin Which May Be Deficient Under Normal Conditions Conditions Usually Prevalent Where Deficiencies Are Reported Function of Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms Nutrient Requirements Recommended Allowances Practical Sources Comments
Fat Soluble Vitamins:
During extended dry periods when the supply of green forage is limited. Required for normal vision. Aids in reproduction and lactation. Needed for maintaining normal epithelial tissue. Aids in the resistance to infection. Keratinization of the epithelia of the respiratory, alimentary, reproductive, and urinary tracts, and of the eye. Multiple infections, poor bone development, birth of abnormal offspring, and vision impairment, including night blindness. Variable according to size, sex, age, and class. The recommended allowances should provide margins of safety over and above the requirements. So, add 10 to 20% to the requirements given in this table. Synthetic vitamin A. Injectable vitamin A. Yellow corn. Green forages. Young animals, which have not built up vitamin A reserves, are more susceptible to a vitamin A deficiency than are mature animals.
Goats that have had access to gree feed can store sufficient vitamin A in the liver and fat to last for 3 months on a low carotene ration without showing signs of vitamin A deficiency.
D Young goats kept in confinement where they have little or no access to sunlight. Absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Bone abnormalities, including rickets. Depressed growth. Variable according to size, sex, age and class. Add 10 to 20% to the requirements given in this table to provide a margin of safety. Sunlight action on ergosterol, a plant sterol, and on 7-dehydrochosterol, a sterol of animal origin. Sun cured hays. Irradiated yeast. Vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 which goats use equally well. Vitamin D should be of little concern when goats are maintained on pasture or range.
E Abnormally high levels of nitrates may produce vitamin E deficiencies. Where soils are very low in selenium. Serves as a physiological antioxidant. In dairy goats, the vitamin E transferred to the milk is important because of the antioxidant properties that aid in milk storage. Evidence of spontaneous vitamin E deficiency signs in goats is lacking. The probability of lowered productivity in goats as a result of a vitamin E deficiency is remote. Alpha-tocopherol, added to the diet or injected intramuscularly. Grains are generally high in vitamin E. Most goat rations contain adequate amounts of vitamin E. Hence, there is little need for vitamin E supplementation.
K Vitamin K deficiency may occur when the discoumarol content of hay is excessively high, as when moldy sweet clover hay is fed. Vitamin K or K2 is necessary in the blood clotting mechanism. Green leafy materials of any kind, fresh or dry are good sources of K1. Vitamin K2 is normally synthesized in large amounts in the rumen; no need for dietary supplementation has been established.
Water Soluble Vitamins:
B & C
B vitamin deficiencies may be evident in poorly fed and unhealthy animals. B-12 may be deficient if cobalt is absent or at extremely low levels, as cobalt is required for the synthesis of vitamin B-12. B-1 participates as a coenzyme in the utilization of carbohydrates. Only vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) is likely to be deficient in goats with functioning rumens, because the microorganisms synthesize these vitamins in adequate amounts. Adequate vitamin C is synthesized in body tissues to satisfy requirements. The B vitamins should be included in the diets of very young kids, animlas with poorly functioning rumens, sick animals, and those with radically changed diets.

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