Saturday, December 17, 2011

Minerals For Goats

Minerals for Meat Goats

Expert Author Ken Ziemer
Meat goats need to have certain minerals in order to stay healthy, to grow normally, to reproduce, and to have normal offspring. Minerals required by goats can be grouped into two categories based on the amounts needed in the diet. Macro minerals are needed in small quantities and trace mineral are needed in very small quantities. An article, by Dr. Steve Hart, on the Langston University website, lists seven macro minerals and eight trace mineral that are required by goats. Meat goat producers do not really need to know what these minerals are and how much is needed by goats since the major feed manufactures produce mineral supplements for goats, cattle, and sheep that contain all of the needed minerals at recommended levels for the areas in which these supplements are sold (the levels needed for some minerals depend on mineral levels in the soils at the location.) If fed free choice, goats will eat the right amounts to meet their mineral needs. These amounts will vary depending on the forages and feeds available to the goats. We prefer to use loose minerals because they are easier for the goats to eat and if fed in a properly designed mineral feeder will cause less contamination with goat manure. Goats like to paw at mineral blocks with their feet, and their feet are always full of goat manure. Goat manure is contaminated with internal parasite larva and eggs.

While good mineral supplements are very expensive per pound, goats will only need and eat very small amounts of them. It does not cost very much to feed a high-phosphorus, loose cattle mineral to goats free choice. We have been doing this for forty-five years with very good results. The mineral requirements of cattle and goats are the same, but cattle minerals are much less expensive than goat minerals. Do not use sheep minerals for goats because sheep minerals do not have enough copper for goats. The amount of copper needed by goats and cattle would be toxic to sheep.
The ratio of calcium (Ca) to phosphorus (P) in the diet of a goat is very important. It needs to be two parts calcium to one part phosphorus. This is a Ca to P ratio of 2 to 1. Remember this ratio is for the goat's total diet, not for the mineral supplement. Limestone is the main source of calcium for feed manufactures. Since limestone is cheaper than other feed ingredients and most grains and protein supplements have a lower than 2 to 1 ratio of Ca to P, most manufactured feeds have their Ca to P ratios adjusted to 2 to 1 by adding limestone. Thus manufactured feeds are neutral for Ca to P ratio. If a goats entire diet consists of manufactured feed (not a good way to feed goats) one might feed a mineral supplement with a 2 to 1 ratio, but check the feed label first because the feed may already have all the minerals that goats need added to it.

Most legumes (alfalfa, white clover, red clover, and lespedeza) have six to one, calcium to phosphorous ratios. Most grasses have two to one ratios. Legumes remove nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil. Thus legumes are high in protein and so are grasses growing with legumes. It is good to have legumes in pastures and hay, but goats fed legumes need a high phosphorous mineral supplement. Cattle, which are natural grazers, can tolerate higher calcium to phosphorous ratios than goats which are natural browsers. Goats will not eat white clover unless they have a high phosphorous mineral supplement free choice. We use a high phosphorous cattle mineral that is twelve percent calcium and twelve percent phosphorous (a 1 to 1 ratio.) We feed it free choice allowing the goats to balance their own Ca to P ratios. How much they eat depends on the types of forages they are eating.
It is reported that too much phosphorous relative to the calcium in the diet of goats can cause renal calculi (kidney stones.) In wethers and bucks these stones get lodged in the urethra often causing death. Our experience with feeding a high phosphorous mineral free choice for forty-five years has been that, as long as the goats have plenty of good quality forages free choice, plenty of clean water, and we do not feed any concentrate feeds containing less than eighteen percent fiber, our goats do not have any problems with renal calculi.

Ken Ziemer, author, has a bachelor's degree in agriculture. He started raising goats in 1962. His wife Candy was raised on a dairy goat farm and has worked with goats all her life. They have farmed and raised goats in Arkansas since 1967.hey are breeding Boer goats for hardiness, fertility, resistance to internal parasites, and efficient meat production on pastures. For more information on feeding meat goats check out their website, Critter Ridge Hardy Boer Meat Goats.

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