Copper deficiency


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There are several web sites which do a good job talking about copper deficiency in goats and I do not want to try to duplicate or improve upon what they have to say. Rather, I want to merely, in as simple terms as possible, describe what I do about trying to prevent and treat copper deficiency. Nearly every goat owner is going to run across the problem sooner or later.

For prevention, I use Sweetlix Meatmaker 16:8 loose minerals for the goats. At first they were reluctant to consume any of it, but after sprinkling a little sweet feed on it every day, they finally got the hang of it. I put it in a small plastic dish and have to add a little fresh to it every day. If it isn't fresh, they won't take any of it. So you may have to brush a little aside to make room for the new stuff. It is formulated for goats with added copper. But my buck and his wethered companion will not touch the loose stuff. There is a 5 lb horse brick with added selenium which they will lick. Or a regular cattle trace mineral brick will work. But, neither have enough copper in them and you will almost certainly need  supplementation.

In order to decide when I need to give added copper (boluses), I use the simple "fish-tail" evaluation. If the tail just slightly resembles a fish tail, then I may wait a month and re-evalute the situation later. If there is a definite resemblance to the tail of a fish along with some baldness on the end of the tail, then I go ahead and treat. Sometimes this will be accompanied by general problems of the hair and skin on the body, especially along the backbone. For the in-between cases, then it's sort of a toss-up. Generally, if there is a need to treat, I do it every three months. Doing it more often could lead to some more serious problems because copper is a toxic substance at the wrong dose.

Supplies needed:

        Digiweigh DW-BX Digital Pocket Scales (Amazon.com)
        NOW Triple "000" Gelatin Caps (Amazon.com)
        Copasure 12.5 g boluses (Jefferspet.com)

To establish the dosage, divide the goat's weight by 23. (Important to have a fairly accurate weight.) This will yield an amount of roughly 5 - 10 grams for an adult goat. (We don't give copper supplements to kids. You'll find a variety of recommendations for dosing on the web, but this is a simple formula that I can handle easily.

Turn on the scales. Place the clear tray on the scales and press  the "Tare" button to bring the weight to zero.
Open one of the Copasure boluses. Pour some of the little pellets into the tray until the scales read the amount needed. If you've poured out too much, take little pinches at a time and return to the Copasure bolus. Tap the tray a couple of times to stabilize the weight shown. (The first readout is not always accurate.) After a little practice, this becomes fairly easy.
Using a small funnel (I make one out of paper) carefully pour pellets from a corner of the tray into the gel cap. Securely close the gel cap by pressing the ends together.

The amount needed for most adult goats will require two gel caps. They can now be administered using the small bolus guns such as those used for giving 2.5g Sulmet sheep boluses. Watch to make sure the boluses actually come out of the gun and that the goat really swallows them. They will frequently spit them out and you have to look all over the floor.

Be sure to record when you have treated each goat. Do not treat again until three months have passed or you may exceed toxic levels.