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Mineral Requirements and Impact on Dairy and Meat Goat Production

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Publication Number: P3929
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A brown goat with horns in a pen.

A healthy goat needs 15 essential minerals, 7 macrominerals, and 8 trace or microminerals. A balanced, loose, free-choice goat mineral is important for goat health. Using a salt block or a block of common livestock minerals is not ideal for goat health. A goat might need only ¼ to ½ ounce per day of a well-balanced mineral. On the other hand, it would need to consume 2 to 3 ounces per day of a salt block with trace minerals.

Minerals and vitamins are important components of dairy goat nutrition, and their requirements can be affected by the physiological growth state of the goat (growth, pregnancy, and lactation).

Macrominerals are usually reported on the feed tag on a percentage basis (%) and microminerals as parts per million (ppm), milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), or grams per ton (g/ton). The main macrominerals needed in a goat’s diet are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, and chloride. The microminerals usually supplemented in goat rations are iron, copper, cobalt, manganese, zinc, iodine, selenium, molybdenum, and others. Tables 1a and 1b list acceptable levels of minerals to maintain a healthy goat.

Table 1a. Suggested ranges of macrominerals needed for a goat’s metabolic functions (Hart, 2020).

Mineral

Minimum (%)

Maximum (%)

Calcium (Ca)

0.30

0.80

Phosphorus (P)

0.25

0.40

Magnesium (Mg)

0.18

0.40

Potassium (K)

0.80

2.00

Sulfur (S)

0.20

0.32

Sodium (Na)

0.20

Chloride (Cl)

0.20

 

Table 1b. Suggested ranges of microminerals needed for a goat’s metabolic functions (Hart, 2020).

Mineral

Minimum (ppm)

Maximum (ppm)

Iron (Fe)

50

1000

Copper (Cu)

10

80

Cobalt (Co)

0.1

10

Zinc (Zn)

40

500

Manganese (Mn)

0.1

3

Selenium (Se)

0.1

3

Molybdenum (Mo)

0.1

3

Iodine (I)

0.5

50

Feeds are natural sources of minerals. Forages, depending on the soil pH and fertility, can be good sources of potassium and iron and are low in sodium. Cereals (concentrates or grains) are high in phosphorus and low in calcium and sodium. Legume seeds are richer in all minerals than forages and cereals.

Feeding calcium and phosphorus at a 2:1 ratio is recommended for better structural and bone strength, while other minerals are necessary for other systems like the nervous and reproductive systems.

Mineral deficiencies in dairy goats can have detrimental health effects. Calcium deficiency in dairy goats can lead to reduced milk production and cause parturient paresis (milk fever). Phosphorus deficiency can result in slow growth, an unthrifty appearance, and occasionally a depraved appetite. The calcium to phosphorus ratio should be maintained between 1:1 and 2:1 to avoid predisposition for urinary calculi.

Magnesium deficiency is associated with hypomagnesemia tetany (grass tetany). This condition is less common in goats than in cattle. Goats can compensate for magnesium deficiency by reducing the amount of magnesium they excrete (urinary and milk production).

Potassium deficiency is extremely rare in adult dairy goats because forages are usually rich in potassium. Deficiencies are usually observed when lactating does are fed a diet high in cereal grains. Potassium-rich diets could cause hypocalcemia in the herd.

Iron deficiency is seldom seen in mature grazing goats but could be observed in young kids due to low iron content in the milk. Iron deficiency can also be observed in animals that are heavily parasitized and is a sign of anemia.

Iodine deficiency in the soil can impact the amount in forages. Iodine deficiency results in an enlarged thyroid, poor growth, small and weak kids at birth, and poor reproductive ability.

Zinc deficiency results in parakeratosis, stiffness of joints, smaller testicles, and lowered libido. Excessive dietary calcium may increase the likelihood of zinc deficiency.

Copper deficiency may result in microcytic anemia, poor production, lighter or faded hair color, infertility, miscarriage, poor health, slowed growth, some forms of metabolic bone disease, diarrhea, and possibly a greater susceptibility to internal parasites. A low copper to molybdenum ratio or excessive dietary sulfur can cause a copper deficiency.

Selenium deficiency is associated with nutritional muscular dystrophy, retained placenta and metritis, poor growth, weak or premature kids, and mastitis. On the other hand, cobalt is known to aid in the production of red blood cells and improve fertility. Both copper and cobalt boluses are available for goats as a ruminal slow-release form of these microminerals; copper is used for parasite control and cobalt for reproduction.

Providing a free-choice mineral is recommended because forages might not have the concentrations required by goats at different growth stages. Soil quality and pH can affect the availability of macro- and microminerals absorbed by forages or browsing species. It is important to choose a loose mineral that is balanced. Goats have soft tongues, which makes it difficult to get enough minerals from a block or a bucket, while loose minerals can be easily licked up.

Salt (NaCl) is a necessary dietary component, and it is used as a carrier for trace minerals because goats have a clear drive for sodium intake. Salt blocks might not provide the required levels to maintain goat mineral requirements. They are designed to provide 25 to 50 percent of nutrient requirements.

It is important to determine which minerals your herd needs and design a forage-testing program that determines the nutritive value of the hay or forage being grazed. Tables 2, 3, and 4 provide a comparison of different commercially available goat mineral products such as loose minerals, salt block trace minerals, and supplemental mineral tubs. The reported mineral composition is based on the product label. Products may be consumed at different rates. Always consult the product label for the recommended consumption rates in ounces per head per day.

Loose minerals should not require additives (molasses, pelleted feed, etc.) or salt because they are salt-balanced to regulate intake. Providing additives with a loose mineral can dilute the mineral and vitamins and result in economic losses. On the other hand, salt blocks with trace minerals might increase water consumption because of their high salt content and might not be balanced to meet goat mineral requirements. Tubs are flavored with molasses and a combination of protein and minerals. These can alter daily consumption of the required supplementation and lead to possible overconsumption and toxicity.

To meet the mineral requirements of goats at different growth stages, select mineral products that provide a well-balanced mineral profile, reduce mineral losses during feeding, and are economically justifiable.

The ratio of calcium to phosphorus is an important factor because an imbalance of these two mineral concentrations can result in lower mineral bioavailability and other possible health issues. To reduce mineral losses, place mineral feeders under roofed areas and high enough to avoid fecal or dirt contamination. Place feeders in a dry area to avoid water accumulation. Provide several feeders so the whole herd has equal access to minerals (Figures 1 and 2). Monitor mineral feeders at least once a week and refill them as necessary.

Having inconsistent access to minerals will result in deficiencies and poor performance. Balanced supplementation with macro- and microminerals will reduce herd diseases, including parasitism and hoof problems, two of the main health issues goats face.

Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K are necessary for many functions within the animal and for the maintenance of herd health. Quantities are expressed as international units (IU, a unit used to measure the activity of vitamins, hormones, enzymes, and drugs).

Vitamins A and E have specific dietary requirements, whereas vitamin K can be synthesized in the rumen, and vitamin D can be synthesized by the skin when exposed to adequate sunlight. Vitamin A is needed for normal growth, reproduction, and maintenance of healthy epithelial tissue. Vitamin D is needed to build a strong, healthy skeletal frame. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps counteract harmful free radicals produced within the body. Vitamin E also helps maintain cell membrane and tissue integrity, also necessary for proper immune system function. A goat with a balanced ruminal microbiota can synthesize vitamin B in sufficient quantities to support metabolism. Vitamin C is synthesized in the liver, and it is essential for the goat’s immune system to work efficiently and protect them from diseases.

 A round, white, plastic container attached to a metal stand. Many goats gather around a feeder. A black, plastic feeder in a grassy area.

Figure 1. Examples of mineral feeders for goats. Photos courtesy Tapp Kikos & Livestock Equipment, Olive Branch, Mississippi.

A long, metal feeder divided into multiple sections under a metal roof. ""

Figure 2. Free choice mineral feeders. Photos courtesy Magowah Ranch, Mississippi.

 

Table 2a. Nutrient composition of commercially available loose minerals labeled for goat production.

Nutritive Value

DuMor Goat Mineral

MannaPro Goat Mineral

Purina Goat Mineral

Sweetlix MeatMaker

Redmond Goat Mineral Mix

ZinPro 4-Plex C

Crude Protein (CP, % Min)

4.00

19.80

Ash (% Max)

70.00

49.90

Macronutrient

           

Calcium (Ca, % Min)

10.00

16.00

15.30

14.00

3.50

Calcium (Ca, % Max)

12.00

19.20

18.36

16.80

4.00

Phosphorus (P, % Min)

6.00

8.00

8.00

8.00

1.50

Potassium (K, % Min)

1.00

1.50

0.03

Sulfur (S, % Max)1

1.20

0.07

Magnegsium (Mg, % Min)

.75

1.50

0.75

1.00

0.06

Sodium (Na, % Min)

14.80

Sodium (Na, % Max)

8.00

5.75

Salt (NaCl, % Min)

16.00

12.00

27.50

15.00

76.00

Salt (NaCl, % Max)

19.20

14.40

32.50

18.00

81.00

Micronutrient

           

Cobalt (Co, ppm Min)

240

50

3600

Copper (Cu, ppm Min)

850

1350

2500

1750

1000

1800

Copper (Cu, ppm Max)

1200

1600

2700

1810

Iodine (I, ppm Min)

100

450

2000

Manganese (Mn, ppm Min)

850

2750

12000

2000

2860

Selenium (Se, ppm Min)

20

12

50.00

50

60

 

Selenium (Se, ppm Max)

24

14.4

 

Zinc (Zn, ppm Min)

1600

5500

4000.00

1200

3500

5150

Vitamin

         

 

Vitamin A (IU/LB, Min)2

40000

300000

300000

300000

100000

Vitamin D (IU/LB, Min)

3500

Vitamin D-3 (IU/LB, Min)

15000

3000

3000

3000

Vitamin E (IU/LB, Min)

100

400

2000

300

50

Microorganisms

           

Lactic Acid Bacteria (CFU/LB, Min)

1500000

 

Total Microorganisms (CFU/LB, Min)3

22000000

 

1Parts per million (PPM); 2International units per pound; 3Colony forming units per pound

 

Table 2b. Nutrient composition of commercially available loose minerals labeled for goat production (continued).

Nutritive Value

New Country Organics

Kalmbach 2:1 Goat Mineral

Southern States Top Choice Goat Mineral

Vigortone Goat Pro Mineral

Crude Protein (CP, % Min)

1.75

24.00

Crude Fat (CF, % Min)

0.50

Crude Fiber (CFI, % Min)

8.50

Macronutrient

       

Calcium (Ca, % Min)

8.50

15.50

22.00

3.80

Calcium (Ca, % Max)

9.50

18.50

4.80

Phosphorus (P, % Min)

4.00

8.00

6.00

2.0

Potassium (K, % Min)

1.00

Sulfur (S, % Max)1

0.25

Magnegsium (Mg, % Min)

3.00

1.50

3.00

Sodium (Na, % Min)

Sodium (Na, % Max)

Salt (NaCl, % Min)

11.00

18.50

21.00

18.90

Salt (NaCl, % Max)

12.00

22.00

22.60

Micronutrient

       

Cobalt (Co, ppm Min)

15

 

Copper (Cu, ppm Min)

1450

425

Copper (Cu, ppm Max)

1800.00

1850

820

510

Iodine (I, ppm Min)

40

Manganese (Mn, ppm Min)

2000

Selenium (Se, ppm Min)

26

32

Selenium (Se, ppm Max)

7000

Zinc (Zn, ppm Min)

7500

3000

1050

Vitamin

       

Vitamin A (IU/LB, Min)2

300000

300000

52000

Vitamin D (IU/LB, Min)

45000

25000

Vitamin D-3 (IU/LB, Min)

Vitamin E (IU/LB, Min)

400

200

63

1Parts per million (PPM); 2International units per pound

 

Table 3. Nutrient composition of trace mineral salt blocks for goat production.

Nutritive Value

Producer’s Pride Trace Mineral Salt Block

Premier1 Goat Trace Mineral Premix

HerdLife Billy Block

Goat Power Mineral

Macronutrient

       

Calcium (Ca, % Min)

0.12

3.5

0.46

12.5

Calcium (Ca, % Max)

0.25

5.5

0.56

14.9

Phosphorus (P, % Min)

0.50

6.95

Potassium (K, % Min)

1.45

Sulfur (S, % Max)1

0.05

11.00

0.05

Magnegsium (Mg, % Min)

0.10

0.10

1.45

Salt (NaCl, % Min)

96.00

93.00

22.0

Salt (NaCl, % Max)

99.00

98.00

26.0

Micronutrient

       

Cobalt (Co, ppm Min)

100

600

80

 

Copper (Cu, ppm Min)

250

50000

250

1500

Copper (Cu, ppm Max)

 

55000

 

1800

Iron (Fe, ppm Min)

1000

1000

1000

Iodine (I, ppm Min)

70

6000

60

Manganese (Mn, ppm Min)

2000

16000

1600

Selenium (Se, ppm Min)

 

991

18

Zinc (Zn, ppm Min)

80

245000

80

12400

Vitamin

       

Vitamin A (IU/LB, Min)2

 

175000

1Parts per million (PPM); 2International units per pound

 

Table 4. Nutrient composition of commercially available mineral supplements labeled for goat production.

Nutritive Value

Mid-Continent Livestock #9 Goat

Prairie Pride Goat Care Pail

Crude Protein (CP, % Min)

15.00

12.00

Crude Fat (CFT, % Min)

5.00

3.00

Crude Fiber (CF, % Min)

2.50

4.00

Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF, % Max)

4.00

Macronutrient

   

Calcium (Ca, % Min)

1.50

2.50

Calcium (Ca, % Max)

2.00

3.50

Phosphorus (P, % Min)

1.50

1.00

Potassium (K, % Min)

2.50

1.50

Sulfur (S, % Max)1

 

Magnegsium (Mg, % Min)

3.00

3.00

Salt (NaCl, % Min)

2.50

Salt (NaCl, % Max)

3.50

Micronutrient

   

Cobalt (Co, ppm Min)

15

Copper (Cu, ppm Min)

550

150

Copper (Cu, ppm Max)

250

Iodine (I, ppm Min)

100

80

Manganese (Mn, ppm Min)

1400

900

Selenium (Se, ppm Min)

6.80

3.1

Zinc (Zn, ppm Min)

2300

900

Vitamin

   

Vitamin A (IU/LB, Min)2

165000

50000

Vitamin D-3 (IU/LB, Min)

3000

5000

Vitamin E (IU/LB, Min)

150

50

1Parts per million (PPM); 2International units per pound

References

Hart, S. 2020. Introduction to Goat Nutrition. Langston University.

Pugh, D. G. 2022. Nutritional Requirements of Goats: Management and Nutrition. Auburn University. In: Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ.

Rashid, M. 2008. Goats and Their Nutrition. Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives.

Spencer, R. 2018. Nutrient Requirements for Sheep and Goats. Alabama Coop. Ext. Serv. Pub. ANR-0812.


The information given here is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products, trade names, or suppliers are made with the understanding that no endorsement is implied and that no discrimination against other products or suppliers is intended.

Publication 3929 (POD-09-23)

By Rocky Lemus, PhD, Extension/Research Professor and Extension Forage Specialist, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Leyla Rios de Alvarez, PhD, Assistant Extension/Research Professor and Small Ruminant Specialist, Animal and Dairy Sciences.

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Authors

Portrait of Dr. Rocky Lemus
Extension/Research Professor
Forage Establishment, Grazing Systems and Management, Hay Production, Forage Fertility, Forage Quali
Portrait of Dr. Leyla Rios de Alvarez
Assistant Professor

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