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Choosing goat minerals

Dwarf doeling

One of the new requirements that we're having to get used to with goats is the need to provide free-choice minerals.  With chickens, additives are included in the bagged feed, and I've lazily assumed that the feed company knows what they're doing.  But since goats get most of their nutrition from pasture, I need to choose a mineral supplement to make sure their diet is well-rounded.

Goats in the woodsWhile I'd like to buy goat minerals locally, my research thus far has turned up only solid mineral blocks at our nearby feed stores.  Unlike horses and cows, solid minerals aren't recommended for goats since the caprines' smaller teeth can't get enough minerals off the block to keep them healthy.  So I started hunting down loose goat minerals online.

Your first decision when choosing between different types of loose goat minerals is whether you want to go with a scientifically formulated product, or whether you want to follow the advice of Pat Coleby in Natural Goat Care and figure your goat will get all of her trace minerals from kelp, to which you add only sulfur, copper, and dolomite.  I'll probably take a hybrid approach --- providing free-choice kelp but also giving our goats access to a mineral mix.  In terms of the latter, the table below includes the five main sources I've found online for loose goat minerals to be shipped to your door.  The only option that doesn't require shipping is Manna Pro from Tractor Supply, which can probably be found semi-locally if we call around (and which is cheapest on my chart since shipping isn't included).

Tables


Purina (Valley Vet) Manna Pro (Tractor Supply) Jolly German Ultimate Goat Mineral Sweetlix Meat Maker (Jeffers Pet) Golden Blend (Hoegger)
Protein (%)
4


Calcium (%) 10 17.6 10 15.4 14.3
Phosphorus (%) 8 8 8 8 7
Salt (%) 43 13.2 43.5 11 22
Potassium (%) 0.1 1.5 0.1 1.5 0.9
Magnesium (%) 1 1.5 1 1.5 1
Sulfur (%)


1.2
Iron (%)



1
Cobalt (varies)

240 ppm
0.01%
Copper (ppm) 1775 1350 1775 1780 1500
Iodine (varies)

450% 0.0007%
Manganese (varies) 2750 ppm 1.25% 0.03%
Selenium (ppm) 25 12 25 50 26
Zinc (ppm) 7500 5500 8000 12500 4000
Vitamin A (IU/lb) 130000 300000 140000 300000 220000
Vitamin D (IU/lb) 11000 30000 11000 30000 45000
Vitamin E (IU/lb) 750 400 750 400 220
Price 42.8 9.99 35.99 39.95 54.95
Pounds 25 8 15 18? 25
$/lb 1.71 1.25 2.40
2.22? 2.20


Assuming you don't need to choose your goat minerals based solely on price, there are a few other things to consider as you peruse the chart above.  Plain salt can be provided free choice Goat reaching for leavesin a separate compartment, so you might want to choose something like Mannapro or Sweetlix with a low salt content so that your goats will only eat the trace minerals if they're craving something other than (cheap) salt.  You might also want to look at your soil test results if you plan to feed your goats primarily on pasture, then to select a mineral mix high in the ingredients that are scarce in your soil.

And then there's the big copper debate, which will be fodder for another post.  Goats need a lot more copper than other livestock, and some breeders provide boluses (huge pills) of copper every few months to keep their goats healthy and to combat worms.  Others follow Pat Coleby's advice and add copper sulfate to their goats' mineral ration for the same reason.  More on pros and cons of copper supplementation in a later post, but feel free to chime in now if you have thoughts one way or another on any goat-mineral-related issue.  And I'd love to hear your feedback on which mineral mixes you've used and on how well they've done at keeping your goats healthy.

Leash-training goats

(As for the photos --- yep, I'm busy leash-training our goats.  When Lucy isn't involved, the training sessions go quite well.)



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Ah yes, the great copper debate. I definitely have to add it for my cows, but people really think you're crazy when they see it.

I've had good luck with Jolly German's dolomite. Hard to find good quality except online.

Great post!

Comment by Nita Sun Oct 12 08:17:08 2014

I've used the Manna Pro mix for years. They like it, it's fairly cheap, and I can always find it at Tractor Supply.

Comment by Julie Sun Oct 12 09:11:21 2014

Hi Anna and Mark,

Most folks know that testing plants for proper mineral uptake is the ONLY way to know if the soil mineral mix is really working.

Same for animals. Do a hair trace mineral test on your animals (and yourselves?). Later see how their mineral content has changed. A poor man's version is Cary Reams RBTI tests.

For whatever reason getting real data and using it doesn't seem to be popular? Maybe $$ and lack of familiarity? Doesn't change the basic point :).

John (engineer in case you didn't guess :) )

Comment by John Mon Oct 13 08:31:47 2014
I am not sure about the shipping or availability, but we have been very happy with Fertrell's minerals for sheep, goats and beef. Our local dealer has a huge area and is extremely accomodating. Maybe your local dealer could deliver to the end of your lane at an appointed time and save shipping on excellent mineral.
Comment by Lilac Hill Thu Oct 16 08:19:17 2014

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime