Goat minerals: why, what, and how

When some people get started with goats, they may overlook a very important aspect of their care by failing to provide free-choice, loose goat minerals. Even if they know goats need minerals, they may think that a block is okay or that any livestock minerals are good enough. They may think they should top dress the goats’ feed rather than having the minerals available all the time.

Why do goats need minerals?

Goats have been around forever, and no one buys minerals for wild goats, so why should you provide minerals for your goats? Because goats in the wild are not fenced in.

They are free to range over thousands of acres looking for what they need. Goats in the wild live in desserts and mountains, not on the plains and prairies or feedlots. Goats never lived in the wild in Illinois because we don’t have what they need to thrive. And if we don’t provide them with minerals, they won’t thrive.

Goats in the wild drink only rain water or water from creeks and lakes. They do not drink water that has been pumped up from 100 feet below the ground.

Well water in many areas is high in sulfur, iron, or calcium, which inhibits the absorption of other minerals, such as copper, leading to deficiency. If you have well water, not only do you need to have a complete goat mineral available, but you may also need to provide additional copper supplementation.

If goats become deficient in minerals, they will have a variety of issues. Copper deficient goats will have problems with infertility, miscarriage, failing to shed their winter coat, and loss of color in their coat. (Click here to see pictures of a buck who is copper deficient.) They will also have a much harder time dealing with parasites. 

Selenium deficient does may have birthing problems and not pass their placenta in a timely manner. They may give birth to kids with white muscle disease.

Calcium deficient does won’t have strong uterine contractions in labor and may get milk fever after kidding.

Zinc deficient goats lose hair in patches and foam at the mouth. This is just a sample of the problems you will see if your goats are not properly nourished.

Why do goats need goat minerals?

Different types of livestock have different nutritional needs. For example, sheep need very little copper, so if you give sheep minerals or “sheep and goat” minerals to goats, they will almost certainly become copper deficient.

Because of the different needs of livestock, using an “all stock” mineral may lead to deficiencies because they tend to be very low in all minerals, so as not to cause toxicity of any mineral in any species. In fact, they tend to be mostly salt with few added minerals.

What form of goat minerals should I use? Can I use a block or a poured bucket?

Goats have very soft tongues, unlike cows whose tongues are like sand paper. Blocks of minerals are very hard, and poured buckets are only a little softer. It can be difficult for some goats to get enough minerals from a block or a bucket. 

Loose minerals can be easily licked up. Although some people have had luck with blocks or buckets, I’ve also heard of goats winding up with deficiencies or chipping a tooth as they desperately scraped the block with their teeth trying to get enough minerals. Years ago I bought a bucket for my bucks so we could avoid putting a mineral holder in their shelter, and I saw tooth marks all over the solid poured minerals because they couldn’t get enough by licking it.

In addition, I have not seen any blocks that contain enough minerals for goats — even from companies that make excellent loose minerals. For example, Purina’s goat block has only 30 ppm copper whereas their loose mineral has 2500 ppm copper. How does anyone think a goat can get enough copper from a block? To make things worse, some people have told me that they use the block because they see the goat licking it all the time, whereas they don’t see them consuming the loose minerals. A goat only needs about 1/2 ounce per day of the loose mineral, so you will seldom see them consume them. People don’t realize that they see goats licking the blocks constantly because they can’t get enough minerals from it.

There is no need to provide a cobalt block, which is actually 98% salt and may reduce the amount of loose minerals your goats consume if they are licking a cobalt salt block.  

How do you feed goat minerals?

goat minerals

 

Goat minerals should be in a mineral feeder attached to the wall. It should be high enough so that the goats can’t poop in it. Since their head is at about the same level as their back end, some people will put a cinder block next to the mineral feeder so the goats can put their front hooves on it to reach the minerals. 

Do your best to make sure minerals are always available. Mineral needs may vary from goat to goat and day to day, and goats actually do a good job of consuming what they need.

You should not mix in anything with the minerals! Some people want to add baking soda or diatomaceous earth or kelp, etc. If you want to provide additional supplements for your goats, they should be provided in separate containers as shown in the photo above. Minerals have been balanced by nutritionists (usually with salt) to regulate the goat’s intake. If you start mixing in other things, you will alter their consumption. For example, if you add baking soda or kelp, that will increase the sodium content, which will reduce the amount of minerals the goats consume.

Although it may seem logical to equate goat minerals with a multi-vitamin for humans and assume that it’s not really important, nothing could be further from the truth. By following these tips, you can be sure that you are doing what you can to ensure that your goats are getting the minerals they need.

This is how some of the most popular minerals stack up — and why I only recommend Sweetlix and Purina and compare other brands to their nutritional analyses.

mineral chart

 

To learn more about why your goats may need to have free choice baking soda available, check out Do Goats Need Baking Soda? 

What else do goats need other than minerals? Be sure you have these 7 things goats need.

You can learn more about my free online course, Copper Deficiency in Goats, by clicking on the link. It includes live videos, PowerPoint lectures, and handouts.

 

Goat Minerals

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133 thoughts on “Goat minerals: why, what, and how”

  1. In researching how to raise our little Nigerian Dwarf Doelings naturally. I came across your site. And wanted to ask you about the copper supplements.
    We know several goat owners for market goats, but not any who raise theirs like we hope to care for ours. We would like to have as “clean” or natural as is prudent. Our does are 3 months old and get a free choice loose mineral. It does contain copper. They also get free choice broamy/grass hay along with ample graze in our wooded and pastured areas. And an organic dairy goat/kid pellet from Modesto Milling.
    Would you still recommend an added copper supplement? If so, how much, and how often. All of our goat friends follow the typical practices of raising goats so asking them isn’t really the advice we are seeking. Our goal is healthy girls, who can grow up to be strong mamas and have healthy babies. And we would love to have milk. We are committed to their care, and I have the book you referenced on raising goats naturally, but asking someone in practice could be so helpful!
    Thank you!!!
    Kristin

    Reply
    • Symptoms of copper deficiency include faded coat, balding around eyes or on bridge of nose, a fishtail, fertility problems, not getting pregnant, not staying pregnant, miscarriage, not being able to tolerate a low worm load. In cases of severe copper deficiency, goats will die.

      You are more likely to have copper deficiency if you have well water that’s high in sulfur (stinky), calcium (leaves white film on everything), or iron (makes sink orange) because those minerals bind with the copper, making it unavailable to the goat.

      If your goats do have symptoms or you do have minerals in your well water, the best supplement is copper oxide wire particles (COWP). I recommend Copasure. Most injectable copper is peed out within 24 hours, so it doesn’t last as long as the COWP, which will last 3-6 months. Do NOT believe the company that says theirs lasts for 12 months. I know people who’ve used it and wound up with copper-deficient goats because they believed that company instead of paying attention to their goats.

      You might also want to join my goat group at http://nigeriandwarfgoats.ning.com

      Reply
    • I like Sweetlix Meat Maker, which is available in most areas (check their website for dealers), but if you can’t find it, just be sure that you get one that is specifically for goats (NOT “sheep and goats”) and has around 1500 ppm copper in it and NO molybdenum. Also, I don’t like minerals that have more about about 15% salt in them because more salt means the goats will consume less of the mineral. You can find all of this info on the feed tag that it attached to the bag. I’ve seen a mineral with copper as low as 300 ppm and salt as high as 85%, which means the goat is getting mostly salt and practically no copper or anything else.

      Reply
        • Meat Maker comes in a medicated and UNmedicated version, so be sure to read the label. You should NOT provide medicated minerals or medicated feed to milk goats. The medicated mineral should only be used short term for kids that were just weaned as that is when they are at risk for coccidia because of the stress of weaning and loss of maternal antibodies in the milk.

          Reply
  2. I am fostering a boer buckling whose mama rejected him and another when she had triplets. The owner gave me dumor milk replacer and he got the runs so I switched to whole cow’s milk and half and half. He is 4 wks old now and also eats alfalfa and forage. Does he need access to minerals?

    Reply
    • Yes, goats need access to minerals from the time they’re very young. If they don’t have them, you will sometimes see them trying to eat dirt.

      Reply
  3. Hello! I just want to say thank you for your post(s) on copper deficiency. We recently had to put a pet goat down because we could not keep her healthy. We had her about a year and a half-she was a retired dairy goat. From the time we got her we could not keep her healthy. She always struggled with parasites and would have spurts of good health and activity but was chronically lame without response to anti inflammatories. Her coat showed signs of copper deficiency early on so we did the COWP and a loose mineral. I, like you, worried about copper toxicity so we went to just the bolus and no loose minerals. CLEARLY SO WRONG.
    We consulted with fellow goat owners, paid over $500 in vet care just for diagnostic testing only to tell us there was nothing we could do except supportive care. Anti bacterial, tested for CAE, anti inflammatories etc. Eventually her health became so bad that we put her down. Not once did the veterinarian ask about minerals or copper. The pasture that our goats are on also happens to be where our well head is at and we have high iron/sulfur water. This all makes so much sense now! And while I feel terrible about not giving her the care she needed I feel like we finally have an answer and are able to change the way we care for our remaining goats. They are so far happy and healthy which was always so puzzling as to why our Doe could not get healthy.
    Thank you so much for your articles. I have some work to do to get our goats in order.

    Reply
  4. So far my goats seem to be doing well but I’m unsure how to best serve them as I do have well water. I have given my goats copper bullious do to my having sheep as well. I have the Mana pro for goats and on occasion I will add some to the alfalfa,beet pulp, and grain mix. I want to give it free choice but I also don’t want to kill my sheep either we will be putting our sheep on separate land at some point in the near future however I keep my mamas to be close so I can more propely care for them. What is the best thing I can do to insure my goats are having all they need without hurting my ewes I have 2goats and one ewe very attached to me and each other. **** P.S. the website isn’t finished yet so I included it though it’s not viewable yet****

    Reply
    • In your situation with such a small number of animals, a lot of people will simply offer each goat a dish of minerals once or twice a day and let them lick up what they want. They really need the mixed minerals as there are a lot of things in there that they could become deficient in, such as zinc and selenium. Unless you are in the Dakotas, a selenium deficiency is a real risk without free choice minerals. Here is more info on selenium: https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goats-selenium/

      Dry does do not need grain or beet pulp. In fact, that’s a perfect diet for obesity. Beet pulp is mostly carbs and has very little nutrition. Grain is high protein and made for does in milk. Dry does only need good grass hay and pasture. (Good means green.) If they get obese, they will have trouble getting pregnant.

      Reply
  5. I have boer wethers and struggle with their health. They don’t touch their loose minerals (Manna Pro). I do not give grain or alfalfa due to urinary calculi. (Dont want to risk it). My question is, how do I get them to want their minerals? I swear the minerals will go bad before they will take any of it. Is sweetlix okay for pet wethers?

    Reply
    • Sweetlix would be great for them. Are they showing signs of any mineral deficiencies? Pet wethers are very easy keepers because they’ve got a pretty stress free life and are not producing anything (sperm, milk, or babies).

      Reply
      • I am so happy to have found this page! I also have raised boer wethers, and have lost 2 due to urinary calculi… I have one boy left (5 years old) and I want to keep him healthy. He does not like manna pro either. What sweetlix do you recommend? There seem to be a lot of options and I’m not sure what to select. Thank you!

        Reply
        • If you have lost two wethers to urinary calculi, it could be because you are feeding grain. That is the most common cause of urinary stones in wethers. It would be much more important for you to STOP feeding grain than to switch minerals. If he’s not eating much minerals, it’s probably because he doesn’t need much. Wethers are very easy keepers. They are not producing sperm or babies or milk, so their nutritional needs are very minimal. They should have pasture, browse, and a good GRASS hay. No alfalfa (too much calcium and protein) and no grain (too much phosphorus and protein).

          Reply
          • I have never fed grain or any extras other than the occasional carrot or Manna Pro goat treats when I trim hooves. I did a lot of research before I even got goats and have been terrified of grains and alfalfa. They are strictly on pasture, grass hay and minerals otherwise. We did not have any issues until a neighbor, 3 years ago, thought it would be nice to feed them grain without asking first. Immediately they went downhill and never really recovered, even after the pizzle surgery. The remaining goat is the only one that never became seriously ill because his brothers bullied him so he probably did not get too many grains. They neighbor knows to never feed my animals a THING without asking me every single time now. Its good to hear that I shouldn’t worry if he’s not eating his minerals though. He’s doing pretty good. I did just get him 2 new friends, another boer wether (he’s 15 years old and acts like a young buck!) and an 8 year old doe. Thank you so much!

  6. Recently, my goats seem to have had issues absorbing copper (3 Nigerian Dwarfs and 1 boer/pygmy cross). They get about a cup a day (1/2 in morning, 1/2 in evening) of Dumor goat feed, mixed with some BOSS, and pumpkin seeds (some raw, and some salted, and roasted with Titanium Dioxide). I also sometime mix in oats (but I recently stopped doing that since I read it has a fair amount of molybdenum) and sunflower seeds. I sprinkle minerals on their food (which contain copper). They also have access to pasture, or given plenty of high quality organic hay. In the past, when I have noticed they are becoming copper deficient, I would give them a dose of Replamin Gel Plus and it would clear it up almost immediately. I have been trying over the last month to get them back on track and have given them all several doses of the Replamin, and there is no response. I tried getting them to eat some copper bolus by putting them in a treat (only two of them actually ate any) – but still not seeing any improvements after a few weeks. What am I doing wrong? I would also give them a better form of grain, but not much available in my (very rural) area. HELP!!!!

    Reply
    • Recently, my goats seem to have had issues absorbing copper (3 Nigerian Dwarfs and 1 boer/pygmy cross). They get about a cup a day (1/2 in morning, 1/2 in evening) of Dumor goat feed, mixed with some BOSS, and pumpkin seeds (some raw, and some salted, and roasted with Titanium Dioxide). I also sometime mix in oats (but I recently stopped doing that since I read it has a fair amount of molybdenum),sunflower seeds and some alfalfa hay (in the compressed form – broken up in small pieces). I sprinkle minerals on their food (which contain copper). They also have access to pasture, or given plenty of high quality organic hay. In the past, when I have noticed they are becoming copper deficient, I would give them a dose of Replamin Gel Plus and it would clear it up almost immediately. I have been trying over the last month to get them back on track and have given them all several doses of the Replamin, and there is no response. I tried getting them to eat some copper bolus by putting them in a treat (only two of them actually ate any) – but still not seeing any improvements after a few weeks. What am I doing wrong? I would also give them a better form of grain, but not much available in my (very rural) area. HELP!!!! Also

      Reply
    • Dumor Goat Sweet Feed is actually one of the best, although the Dumor Pelleted Feed has only about half as much copper. Which one are you using?

      You should NOT be adding minerals to the goat feed. Minerals should be available free choice so that goats can take as much or as little as they need. You could have pushed them into a mineral imbalance or a toxicity situation. Which symptoms are you seeing? Which mineral are you using?

      Reply
      • I use the pelleted formula, not the sweet feed. I thought sweet feed wasn’t good – I should stay away from sugars?? It’s Manna Pro minerals – its usually not all eaten- much of the minerals are usually left on their bowls. Symptoms are: copper colored fur or off white fur- one of them Has a curly coat. I had it happen in the past and the Replamin worked wonders and they had a beautiful black smooth coat in days. Just tell me what to do and I will do it! These are my babies ☹️

        Reply
        • I really wish Dumor would change the name of the Sweet Feed to something else — like textured feed, which many brands call their textured feed — because “sweet feed” usually refers to an all-stock feed that contains no added nutrients and is just grain and molasses, and it should not be used. The Dumor Sweet Feed is almost identical to the Purina Goat Feed, which costs a couple dollars more.

          A specific color is not indicative of copper deficiency. What’s important is how the coat changed. What is normal coat color of the goat you say is now copper colored — and by that do you mean rusty? What is the normal color of the off-white goat? Curly hair is not a symptom of copper deficiency. Is color change the only symptom? Do they have hair loss on their face or fail tip (fish tail)? Are these does, bucks, or wethers?

          Do you have sulfur or iron in your well water? Are you feeding alfalfa or grass hay?

          I’m asking all of these questions because this may not be copper deficiency at all. Replamin Gel has several minerals in it, so it may have been correcting a different deficiency in the past, such as zinc, but I need more information.

          Reply
  7. The three Nigerian’s are black and white – I’m seeing copper where there should be black, and off white that is usually bright white. Their tails are looking a bit ‘thin’ – maybe slightly thin fur on their faces, as well. I have 3 does, one wether. Also I’ve noticed two of my does bags seem larger for not being pregnant- which was also concerning me. The wether’s hair is the one that is curly. It’s grass hay- I give them a little bit of alfalfa/ Timothy hay that I buy in the bags at Tractor Supply – the blocks- broken up in little pieces- but not much. Just a little bit mixed in with their food because they love it. I don’t have a noticeable amount of iron in my well – we drink it without filtering ourselves and I’ve never seen an orange stain on anything

    Reply
    • This does not sound like it’s necessarily copper deficiency. Have these does ever been bred? If yes, when? Even if does are not bred, they can bag up. It’s called a precocious udder, and it does not mean that anything is wrong. It just happens with some goats. When goats are copper deficient, their coat fades, so a white coat looking darker is NOT copper deficiency. A cream goat would turn white if it were copper deficient. A white goat has got nowhere to go because it already has no pigment in its hair.

      Reply
  8. Let me double check on the hay – we get it from the farmer whose cows we watch over – it’s an organic dairy farm. So I should switch to the Dumors sweet feed? Or the Purina? I was trying to stay away from anything marked as ‘medicated ‘

    Reply
    • I am not talking about using medicated feed. Purina has several goat feeds, and Dumor has two. Neither of the Dumor goat feeds is medicated, and only one or two of the Purina feeds is medicated. There is NO need to give medicated feed to adults.

      Reply
  9. We got our first two goats with one pregnant- who gave birth to our third goat. Then we rescued our fourth. So Only one of them has been pregnant. Her bag and her daughters are the ones that are looking full. Ok – I guess I was confused with the coat pigments and copper deficiency. It’s mostly on their legs and backend where the color change is taking place. And I guess I mean ‘rusty’. It definitely seems as though their coats have lost pigment – where this is happening is rough fur, compared to their normally soft, shiny coats. I will switch foods and have stopped putting minerals on their food. I am open to more suggestions- I just want to do what is best for their health. Thank you so very much for your help thus far – I truly appreciate it!!!

    Reply
    • Do you have sulfur or iron in your well water? Do you have minerals available free choice? What brand?

      Reply
  10. No noticeable iron or sulfur in our well. We drink without filtering. Manna Pro minerals- yes I had it offered free choice and they never touched them. I have used Billy Block- which they loved- so I was thinking of going back to that brand.

    Reply
    • Since you are not breeding your goats, they have practically zero stress on their bodies, which means they don’t have high mineral needs. They are not producing milk, babies, or sperm, so they should be very easy keepers. You also have no copper antagonists, so they should not have secondary copper deficiency. A little rusty color around the back end is not a big deal. Goats with copper deficiency have multiple symptoms, such as no hair on the bridge of their nose or around their eyes and no hair on their tail tip. They don’t shed their winter coat. When it’s severe they have fertility problems, but your goats are not breeding, so that’s not something you’d be aware of. However, as I said, if they are not breeding, they don’t have high mineral needs. I’m concerned that they may actually be suffering some type of mineral overload or mineral imbalance because you’ve been over-doing it by putting minerals on their feed. Goats should have FREE CHOICE minerals available so they can take as much or as as little as they want. I would not expect your goats to consume much of the minerals since they are not breeding. The Billy Block is 93% salt and has very tiny amounts of minerals in it, so the goats were consuming a lot of it because it actually had very little minerals in it. Manna Pro has about 6x more copper, so they have to consume six times as much of the Billy Block to get the same amount of copper. Since none of them are breeding, they really don’t need grain, and in fact, you could start to have problems with obesity in the does if they’re not bred and you keep giving them grain. Only does in milk need grain. I’d suggest weaning them off the grain and just providing a good quality grass hay, as alfalfa can wind up causing zinc deficiency in non-breeding does, bucks, and wethers because of the high calcium content. And they need to have a loose mineral available free choice.

      Reply
      • Ok great. Thank you so much for your help. I’ll start weaning them off the grain and continue with the free choice Manna Pro minerals. I truly appreciate your insight and love your website. Thanks again

        Reply
  11. We got our first two baby goats yesterday, males 9 and 10 weeks old. I bought the divid d mineral feeder. Today I read instructions on the bag and measured out 1 Oz. and divided in feeders. Unfortunately the slightly bigger baby ate most of it. Should I put more in there and have it available at all times? Will they only take what they need? Also besides their goat feed should I provide free choice hay? They are in a fenced in area about 50 feet x 75 feet with lots of grass and a few trees. I have watched them eat grass, certain leaves, weeds and some pine needles off the pine trees. Thanks, appreciate any info I can get.

    Reply
    • Goat minerals should be available free choice, which means that you put a cup or so of the mineral in the dish and let them eat as much as they want. Goats will regulate their intake appropriately. If they have not had minerals available for awhile, they might consume more for a few days but then slow down.

      That’s not a very big area, and two goats will eat everything in there fairly quickly. Since they’re still young, it might be enough for them this summer, but as they get bigger and eat more, they will be able to eat everything in an enclosure that size in most parts of the US. Hopefully the trees in there are mature. If they are young, the goats will kill them as they eat the bark. They will definitely need a good grass hay in the winter as things slow down and stop growing.

      Here is more info on what goats need:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/7-things-goats-need/

      Reply
  12. Hi. My 3 month old Nigerian Dwarf wethers didn’t seem to be eating their minerals, so I have measured out a recipe, stirring until it appears equal parts are distributed and re-measuring for serving it up, to be sure they are getting the 1/4 oz per day.
    For 8 servings, I’m using:
    2.0 oz MannaPro Goat Min.
    2 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
    2 tsp Molasses.
    Manna Pro is a 2:1 Calcium/Phosphorous ratio, and I understand 3:1 is ideal. I’m not sure how to figure out my for the % listed on the bag, but the molasses adds approx 9 mg/ calcium serving.
    You mentioned not mixing the minerals with anything. Im thinking that if I measure it out in this way, it will work. Is that correct?
    Also, Manna Pro does not have Iodine in it. Is this a problem?
    I feed them hay and only a small small bit of grain to top of their mineral treats.
    Thank you!
    Stephanie

    Reply
    • I’m not surprised that it doesn’t look like 3 month old kids are not consuming much minerals. That’s totally normal. Minerals are supposed to be free choice because needs vary from place to place and goat to goat. A milking doe has higher needs than a buck, and a buck has higher needs than a wether — and 3 month old kids need far less minerals than adults. Wethers are VERY easy keepers and do not usually need much for minerals. You should not be doing anything to encourage them to consume more minerals than they are willing to eat on their own. You could wind up with some type of mineral toxicity. Wethers also should not have grain because it increases their risk of urinary stones. Manna Pro is fine for wethers, although I would not recommend it for breeding animals.

      Reply
  13. Good article and lots of good comments.
    I have two goats saved from the butcher for pets. They have an acre of land to graze on. I don’t know about the copper need but they ate the wiring harness off of my mower and I think they ate a pair of meter test leads too. couple of years ago , no sign of problems with them.

    Reply
    • Purina Goat Chow is a good choice because it has around 40 ppm copper. Other Purina feeds only have about half that much. Dumor Goat Sweet Feed also has about 40 ppm, but the pelleted Dumor Goat has about half as much also. Just check the feed tag and look for 35 to 40 ppm copper. Most goats feeds only have about 20 ppm copper.

      Reply
      • The Purina one at the stores is labeled as “Meat Goat”, is that the same as “Goat Chow” and would you also give mineral supplement of Sweetlix?

        Reply
  14. Thank you foor your help! Would you recommend Chow over Meat Goat? Also what would your top brand recommendation be, Purina or otherwise?

    Already put in an order for the Sweetlix mineral you recommend.

    Reply
    • Purina Goat Chow is the best goat feed on the market, IMO —
      https://www.purinamills.com/goat-feed/products/detail/purina-goat-chow

      Meat Goat is medicated, and you should NEVER feed medicated feed as a matter of habit — ONLY if you have a problem with coccidiosis or goats likely to be infected with coccidiosis. Check out my post on preventing coccidiosis —
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/preventing-coccidiosis/

      HOWEVER, are you sure your goats need grain? Most do not need grain. Really, only does in milk need grain. Very young, fast growing kids can utilize grain, but they don’t really need it if they have plenty of good browse and are nursing. Grain is actually detrimental for wethers and bucks as it can cause urinary calculi, and dry does can wind up overweight if they eat grain.

      Reply
  15. Hi Deborah, thank you for all of your detailed responses. Truly your blog is by far one of the best resources I have found.

    Regarding your note back above, living in Florida we have a major issue with ants and sweet feed. I spoke with my feed store who thought it would be a bad idea to switch to Goat Chow because of the ant possibility. What is your opinion?

    They sold me a bag of Nutrina Pelleted Goat feed, but looking at the bag it is medicated as well.

    My Nigerian Dwarf Goat (two years old) is a companion to our horse – by far she rules the roost. I purchase the Sweetlix you recommended, but she doesn’t seem to eat it at all. She literally tosses the bucket over.

    Our yard is comprised of bahaia grass a few oak trees, and weeds, like most pastures in Florida.

    She also steals timothy alfalfa or orchard alfalfa from our horse’s stall too.

    We don’t plan to breed her, nor has she ever been bred. With all of this info, do you not feel it is necessary to do feed? I am just worried she wouldn’t get enough of the vitamins listed in the feed bags.

    Our horse vet who is familiar with goats said she looks healthy.

    Sounds silly, but I feel really guilty not giving her feed when she sees her horsey brother eating feed.

    Thank you again for all of your help 🙂

    Reply
    • Dry does do NOT need grain. And even if you had goats that needed grain, you would NOT leave out an unlimited amount for the ants to crawl into. They get such a small amount that they eat it up in a few minutes. If you have not opened the bag of medicated feed, I’d suggest returning it.

      Goats don’t exactly “eat” minerals. They lick at them once or twice a day. With only one goat, you are not going to see much disappear at all. And since she is a dry doe, her nutritional needs are minimal, so she will consume even less. You don’t put it in a bucket. You would just put a quarter cup or so into a mineral feeder that’s attached to the wall, and when it’s gone, add another 1/4 cup. If she isn’t consuming the minerals, it’s because she doesn’t need them, so you shouldn’t feel bad about not giving her grain. It will just be calories that she doesn’t need.

      Reply
    • I wish it were that easy to eliminate high minerals from well water. You can reduce iron with a water softener, but reducing sulfur requires the use of a water filtration system that costs a couple thousand dollars.

      Reply
    • Goats and cattle have mineral needs that are so similar that you can use their minerals interchangeably. Some cow minerals have more copper in them, but that is not always the case. Our goats always needed far more copper than our cows did. Some people purposely feed a cattle mineral with 3000 ppm copper, although I am not comfortable with anyone doing that unless they tried a typical goat mineral with copper around 1800 ppm and found that they were needing to bolus their goats with extra copper every three months. In that case, they might try a free choice mineral with more copper. Basically they use the higher copper level mineral so they do NOT have to do extra copper oxide wire particles any longer.

      Reply
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  17. I need help. We just got two 5 week ago baby Nigerian. They were baned when we got them, now that I have been reading sound that it was to early. And told to give them hay/ and alfalfa. Very worried now.

    Reply
    • Five weeks is not that bad, if it was just done when you picked them up. I won’t castrate earlier than 4 weeks, although I prefer 2 months. But the difference between 4 and 8 weeks is not enough to lose sleep over. Hopefully they are still getting a bottle, which they need for at least 8 to 12 weeks, depending on how fast they grow.

      Babies are fine on alfalfa because they are growing so fast. They need the extra calcium and protein right now. That is also why they need milk — lots of calcium and protein. But you should start to switch them over to a grass hay by the time they are about six months old because their growth slows down considerably by then, so they no longer need that much calcium and protein.

      Reply
    • Sweetlix Meat Maker is my favorite because it has plenty of copper, selenium, zinc, and cobalt, which are minerals that goats are most commonly deficient in. You can usually find out who sells it in your area by checking their website online or contacting the company. You can also order it online if you don’t have a lot of goats. Shipping gets expensive if you have a lot of goats.

      If you can’t find it nearby though, Purina just changed their formulation, and It is a very close second now. Their copper is now more than Sweetlix, however, they have more salt, so goats will probably consume less, so the actually copper consumption is probably very close to Sweetlix now. They used to have twice as much salt, which meant goats wouldn’t consume much.

      Reply
  18. Hi Deborah,

    I read through your article and all of the questions and your answers to them. I found everything very helpful yet I do still have a few questions. I value your time and thank you in advance.

    We are getting 6 Nigerian Dwarf Goats that are all 8 to 12 weeks old, 3 withers and 3 doelings.

    We’re doing a bunch of research in preparation for them to come home in two weeks, and we’re very Excited! They are going to be Pet’s and blackberry/weed-control. We will be moving them around to different grazing areas of our property. We are not planning on milking anytime soon but might consider it in the future.

    Here’s our plan based off your answers to the other questions.

    Alfalfa (how much per goat per day?) and 1/2 cup Grain (containing at least 35ppm copper) per goat once a day. Both Alfalfa and Grain until the goats are about 6 months old.

    Free Choice Bakng Soda and Free Choice Sweetlix Meat Maker. Should we get the Medicated Sweetlix or the non Medicated Sweetlix?

    Once the goats are 6 months they’ll be weaned off alfalfa and grain and we’ll Only feed them Good Quality Grass Hay (means it should be green).

    How young can they start grazing?
    How do you know if your land is suitable for Goat Grazing?
    How much alfalfa/Grass hay do they get if they are also grazing/pasturing?

    Thanks again! -Maranda

    Reply
    • That’s an excellent summary!

      The kids can start grazing and browsing as soon as you bring them home. If they’ve been with mom in a pasture, they’ve been doing that since they were a few days old and started imitating her. They’re just mostly experimenting in the beginning, but by the time they’re a month old, they’re pretty good at eating. If you have green things growing on your land, it’s good for goat grazing. When people say goats will eat anything, they mean things like roses and hedges and all the things that grow, including poison ivy.

      If you are locking up the goats at night, that’s really the only time they need the alfalfa. Being ruminants, goats will eat almost 24/7 if they are out on pasture, so if you lock them up at night, you can provide them with alfalfa in the barn — probably 2-3 flakes will last them for most of the night. When they’re growing though, they can have as much alfalfa as they want, and when they get older, they can have as much hay as they want. It’s just dried grass basically.

      Medicated Sweetlix has a coccidiostat in it to prevent coccidiosis, so it’s really just for kids around weaning or moving to a new home, which is a stressful time. It’s not something that should be used long term, which is why I wouldn’t suggest buying the medicated one unless they sell that in a 10# bucket. I think they used to do that, but I haven’t seen it lately. If all you can buy is 25#, I wouldn’t get that because it will take many months to go through it with only six young goats. If you buy the 10# bucket, you would only need to get it once, then get the unmedicated from then on. If you are concerned about coccidiosis when you first bring them home, you could also do a medicated feed.

      Reply
  19. Hi again Deborah & Thanks for the speedy reply!

    Unfortunately, our goats have been with mom in the barn stall this entire time and kept away from the extremely wet/soggy pasture. I was told this was the case for fear of them getting sick. The owner of the goat farm informed us that she won’t be letting the goats out of the stall until they are ready to come home with us. They should still automatically graze though, right? I mean even if their moms don’t have a chance to teach them.

    I’ll look for the 10lb bag of Medicated Sweetlix at my local store, to be clear, they can have the Medicated until it’s gone or until they are about 6 months, right? Even if they’ve already been vaccinated for coccidiosis?

    Thanks again, you’re so kind offering all this help to folks.

    🙂 Maranda

    Reply
    • Not a problem. They’ve been eating hay and whatever else their mother was eating. Initially you can give them some hay before letting them out onto the pasture so that they don’t fill up on fresh grass right away. Do that for 2-3 days so they gradually transition to the fresh grass.

      There is no vaccine for coccidiosis for goats (only chickens). Your goats were most likely vaccinated for CDT, which is for enterotoxemia types C & D, as well as tetanus, and that’s the only routine vaccine anyone gives. Others are usually only given in herds that already have an outbreak of some disease, such as sore mouth.

      You won’t find Sweetlix at most local farm stores. You can check their website to find someone who sells it near you, or you can order it online. If you can’t find it, you can use Purina, which just changed their formulation, and it is much better than it was a couple of months ago. If you get medicated mineral, you would only use it until it is gone — at most. They really only need it for about three weeks. However, depending upon their body condition and how much milk they were able to get, they may do just fine without it.

      Reply
      • Hello Deborah and thanks again for your reply!

        We are very lucky to have a reputable feed store in our town that carries Sweetlix, Yay! Our goats are healthy and have been getting lots of milk from their mommies so I think we’ll just get the un medicated Meat Maker since you’ve said that should be fine.

        Upon review and further investigation of your website and the above conversations I am getting mixed messages on whether or not it’s okay to feed Bucklings/soon-to-be-wethers Alfalfa because it can wind up causing a zinc deficiency, and Grain because of urinary calculi.
        As I previously mentioned our plan was to feed them Alfalfa and Grain (they’ll also be foraging) until they are about 6 months old.

        If it’s better to feed them Grass Hay instead of Alfalfa and Grain then that’s what we’ll do.

        Our 3 Bucklings will come home to us (at around 9 weeks old) and we’ll take them back to the Goat Farm to be Banded at around 12 weeks old.

        Also, they will be locked in the barn at night.

        Maybe i’m overthinking everything…. We just love them very much and we want to make sure that we give them the best care that we can.

        You’re too kind, thanks again for being incredibly helpful.

        Maranda

        Reply
        • Young goats are still growing fast, which means they can utilize the calcium in milk and alfalfa. Growth slows down quite a bit after 6 months though, so it’s best to switch them to a grass hay around that time. There isn’t some magic date on the calendar when this happens. It’s just a question of whether they are consuming more calcium than they can use, so at some point their growth will be so slow that they won’t need much … and if they get too much, they may start to lose large chunks of hair and foam at the mouth. If that happens, you know they’re zinc deficient, and you just switch them to grass hay.

          If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, be sure to do that, so you can get additional info weekly. I’m sure you’ll have even more questions when the kids arrive. 😉

          Reply
          • Hi Deborah,
            Thanks for the clarification.
            We are signed up for your newsletter.
            Thanks again for everything!
            Be well,
            Maranda

  20. We have a small mixed herd of nigerian dwarfs, barbados sheep and now 2 miniature donkeys. How do we meet all their mineral needs? Is there a mineral product that is safe for all 3 or how do we separate who eats what?

    Reply
    • If the goats, sheep, and donkeys go into their own stalls at night, you can have their species specific minerals in there. Here is more info about keeping sheep and goats together —
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/can-i-keep-sheep-and-goats-together/

      I am not a fan of medicated minerals, but the medication is actually deadly for equines, so definitely should not be used around donkeys. But you really shouldn’t be using medicated minerals anyway.

      Reply
  21. This blog is excellent and I am learning so much! We just got our goats about a week ago, and I wish I would have done more homework. We keep our three wethers with an old Arabian horse. My husband is planning on setting up a mineral station for the goats. My question is if the horse gets into the minerals, will it hurt him? If it could, husband will build a shelter for the goats and set up the mineral station inside of it. Would that work? Right now, the goats are sharing the horse’s shelter on two acres. Thank you for your knowledge!!!

    Reply
    • Just be sure you don’t get medicated minerals for goats. The medication in there can be fatal to equines. And your goats don’t need it. It’s a coccidiostat, which should only be given to goats at high risk of coccidiosis, which three wethers should not be. They may be stressed from the move, but after the first few weeks in their new home, wethers are usually living a stress free life and are very easy keepers.

      Reply
  22. Stumbled onto your website, and found it very helpful, but didn’t see questions/answers specific to fiber goats. As I understand: nursing and milk goats benefit from grain and alfalfa. Young goats, up to 6 months can utilize the grain and alfalfa, but don’t really need it. Dry does do not need alfalfa or grain. Wethers and bucks should NOT be fed grain or alfalfa, due to the risk of urinary calculi. ALL goats benefit from free choice minerals, such as the Sweetlix Meat Maker, or the Purina brand, which contain copper, selenium, calcium, zinc, and cobalt. Also, free-choice baking soda is a good idea, especially for those goats eating grain. Is my understanding accurate?
    So, what about our Pygora fiber goats? Because they produce big, fluffy fleece which is harvested twice a year, do they benefit from added grain/alfalfa to their diet? And, during the cold winters, will they benefit from the extra calories found in grain, to keep warm?

    Reply
    • Wow! That is an excellent summary! Since pygoras are a hybrid and produce three different types of fleece, it can get tricky. It does take quite a bit of protein to produce mohair, so your pygoras that have the long curly locks will need more protein than those producing the other two types of fleece. You can get equally good protein (around 16% or more) from grain or alfalfa, so the question is whether or not they need the calcium in alfalfa. If you have a pregnant doe or a doe nursing kids, I’d give her alfalfa, but for bucks and wethers, I’d probably lean towards grain and be sure to provide them with ammonium chloride or find a grain mix that has it included. Some people suggest feeding alfalfa to balance the phosphorus, but then that just creates a calcium excess, which can lead to zinc deficiency, which is why I’d prefer to just be sure they have the ammonium chloride with the grain to deal with the risk of urinary calculi.

      For your pygoras with the type C fleece, their needs would be similar to dairy goats because they’re only producing the cashmere undercoat that all goats produce. And your B types will be somewhere in between. For your sake, I’m hoping all of your goats have the same type of fleece! 🙂

      I always say to watch your goats, as they’ll tell you what they need. If your goats are productive in terms of producing twins and growing them big and strong, as well as producing beautiful fiber, then you’re doing great.

      Reply
  23. Congratulations Deborah,
    Your web infos have a vast reach. But being in Eastern Canada I do not have the access to species specific minerals, but do have access to several types/brands of loose minerals. What I would like see would be a chart with a recommended range for each of the recommended minerals that should be fed, but I suppose that could also change depending on what region I was in?
    So send me a chart for Eastern Nova Scotia please! hahaha
    Thank you

    Reply
    • For a few decades now, the grassfed cattle people have been providing each of the minerals in a separate dish so that the cattle can pick and choose exactly what they want. It’s called cafeteria style minerals. I do the same thing with selenium. If you can get the individual minerals in pure form, you can put them out in separate dishes and let the goats pick and choose. Do NOT put salt in them, as that will confuse the goats. Research done 20+ years ago showed that they had no idea what to eat if all of the minerals had salt in them. But if you use different carriers, then they associate each taste with the effect. For example, my selenium uses wheat middlings as a carrier.

      Reply
  24. Hi, Deborah! I have two male goats who I was told to feed Blue Seal Medicated Goat Feed, daily, and I have been doing so for approximately 16 months (they are almost a year and a half old). After reading this comment thread, I am feeling as though I have done my boys a disservice by providing them with daily grain, and perhaps too much of it. It sounds as though I should discontinue this aspect of their diet, and I am wondering if you have any advice that you could share for doing so? My boys have grown VERY FOND of their grain, and are going to be notably upset when it is no longer available to them–should I transition them off of it gradually, or instantly? Is there something I should feed them during this transition? Any insight/tips would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

    Reply
    • You can mix in some hay pellets (timothy or orchard grass), then gradually increase the hay pellets while decreasing the grain until it is all hay pellets. Then you can just use the hay pellets as treats or when you need to bribe them. Don’t use alfalfa pellets as alfalfa has too much calcium in it for wethers. It is just for milkers and does in late pregnancy.

      Reply
    • Within a week or so should work. Start with a really small amount of hay pellets until they’re eating them reliably. And it works better if you feed them from one pan because then they get competitive and will be more likely to eat them.

      Reply
  25. Just new to the goats. I have been trying to figure what’s best without too much to add more danger or stress. I have a mini Nubian does and Nigerian dwarf doe, bother born May/June of this year. I have the purina grower (medicated) and sweet feed which I started mixing in. Not sure If this is a good option, or how long to continue medicated feed. They also get hay which apparently isn’t up to their par yet as they have been a bit picky with it. I know they need more copper as the one has the tail to show some deficieny. Will adding the lose minerals be too much when they also have the medicated feed? What is your recommendation?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • All goats need a free choice mixed mineral regardless of whether or not they are eating a commercial goat grain.

      You only need to feed a medicated feed during times of stress for kids when they are at risk of coccidiosis. When I sell kids, I tell the buyers that they should not buy more than one bag. When it’s gone, you should never need to buy it again for those goats. All adults have some coccidia in their gut — which is where the kids get is — but it doesn’t become a problem unless the got gets badly stressed by another illness. In 17 years I’ve only had one adult that needed to be treated for it, and it was when she almost bled to death after giving birth to a particularly huge kid all by herself.

      If I am understanding correctly, you are mixing sweet feed into the medicated feed. You don’t need to do that. Just feed the medicated until you run out, then you’re done with it. Unless the kids are unusually small for their age and need the extra protein, they really won’t need grain again until they are at the very end of pregnancy (last week or two) or milking.

      You should never feed an all-stock sweet feed to goats. Dumor Goat Sweet Feed is good, but I do wish they’d change the name as it is rather confusing because sweet feed is usually just empty calories.

      Reply
      • Can you tell me what you mean by “an all stock” sweet feed?

        Do the free choice minerals provide copper as well, trying to figure out the best way to get copper back into their system, again with not doing too many things at once to cause more stress. I have had them for just over a week now.
        Thank you.

        Reply
          • All minerals are not created equal. You have to read the labels. You want at least 1500 ppm copper in the free choice minerals. I know that Sweetlix Meat Maker and Purina Goat both have more than enough copper in them. If you have local brands, be sure to check the label. Never buy anything labeled as “sheep and goat mineral” because that will have zero copper. Sadly I’ve seen some so-called goat minerals that had as little as 300 ppm copper, which is nowhere near enough.

            Even if you have a mineral with at least 1500 ppm copper, your goats can become deficient if you have copper antagonists in your well water. Here is more info on copper deficiency.
            https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goats-and-copper-deficiency/

  26. Where do you buy either sweetlix or purina minerals. I live in Muskogee Oklahoma. Do you order online or can some place order it for me. The minerals I’ve been using I’ve noticed are 11.9 ppm which is a lot lower than what you mentioned of needing to be 50 ppm. I guess that might be why 4 out of 5 kids had weak legs.
    Here is the ingredients listed in ppm.
    Zinc 6290ppm
    Selenium 11.9ppm
    Iodine 205.6ppm
    Cobalt 134.6ppm
    Copper 2000ppm
    Manganese 6290ppm
    Salt min. 10.9% max. 13%
    Iodine listed iron in the ingredients but not ppm so I’m not sure how much of that is in it, but I’ve ask.
    Pretty sure I’m going to switch to purina or sweetlix whichever one I can get and cost.

    Reply
  27. Hello! You have been such a huge help to all of us fosters! I read your newsletter every week! You had posted that I think it was Purina (?) had put out a new block that contained copper in a different form that would eliminate the need for the copper boluses? What was that product? My boy takes them just fine and I have given Manna pro goat minerals for years, but my younger doe always manages to chuck them back up and chew them which defeats the purpose. What was that product? I’m in Las Vegas, and while my goats don’t seem to be super deficient, my girl usually has the fish tail thing going on….Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Goats need free choice, LOOSE minerals. That is not a block. Blocks are too hard for goats to get enough minerals because they have a small, soft tongue. Purina Goat Minerals come in a bag, and you put them in a mineral dispenser that is attached to the wall so the goats can get as much as they want.

      It’s a very old myth that goats should not chew the copper. Research has shown that they can’t actually chew it up, AND a published study showed no difference between the effect if the copper was given in a bolus or mixed in feed.

      If a goat’s only symptom is a fish tail, and she always has it, that may just be her normal. Goats with copper deficiency usually have multiple symptoms. If she has a strong immune system, no parasite problems, no fertility problems, and no fading coat, I wouldn’t worry about her tail.

      Reply
  28. Hello. We are getting our first Nigerian Dwarf goats in about a month. We have been prepping their pen, which will be shared with 4 ducks, and are almost ready for them. I have been watching YouTube and looking at blogs and am TOTALLY overwhelmed in trying to decipher just what we need. We want to do right by our boys (getting two young wethers), but cannot break the bank either. From what I gather from all the sources, the plan is:
    free access to timothy hay, baking soda, kelp and sweetlix or purina minerals. We do have well water, so I guess they need extra copper. I had read that it is advisable to mix copper sulphate, dolomatice lime and ferrous sulphate and then sprinkle about 1 teaspoon on their pellet food daily. We plan to feed a sweet mix food (non-medicated), mixed with black oil sunflower seeds and sprouted pumpkin seeds, giving each goat 1/2 a cup a day. How does this sound to your experienced ear?

    Reply
    • Sounds like you could kill your boys with kindness. 🙂 Wethers do not need grain, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. Wethers are more likely to have a problem with urinary stones if you give them grain. Seeds are grains. Goat feed is grain. You could get one bag of goat feed and use that for training purposes a handful at a time, and then when that bag is gone, it’s gone. You don’t buy more.

      I NEVER recommend copper sulfate because it has a very LOW safety margin, and I know people who have killed their goats with too much copper sulfate. Goats do not need dolomite lime or ferrous sulphate, and you should NEVER sprinkle minerals on their feed. Minerals should always be available free choice — that means they are in a feeder on the wall, and they can consume as much or as little as they want. They are very good at self regulating their intake. Wethers also don’t need kelp. It’s mostly just high in iodine, and wethers don’t need much iodine. They are very easy keepers.

      It drives me nuts when I see people saying that you need so many supplements and so much stuff. Not only is it a huge waste of money, but I get emails from a lot of people with wethers who are seriously over-feeding and over-supplementing them. Remember they are not producing sperm or babies or milk or anything. They are VERY easy keepers. They only need pasture and grass hay, free-choice minerals, and clean water. They may or may not need baking soda depending upon the grain situation at your farm. Here is more info on baking soda:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goats-need-baking-soda/

      I’m also a little concerned about the goats sharing a pen with ducks. Ducks will turn every waterer or bucket into their swimming hole, which means it will be filled with poop, which is not great for goats, and most goats won’t drink poopy water anyway. Also, ducks need to eat grain, and goats don’t, so you have to be able to feed the ducks in a place where the goats can’t get.

      Reply
  29. We are new goat owners and have 4 ND kids… 8 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 weeks, and 1 week! I have loose minerals (manna pro goat) and baking soda out for them. None of them seem interested in it. I’ve seen them sniff/possibly lick the basking soda, but ive never seen them go for the minerals. However, they do eat/lick the dirt a lot. What gives? Will they suddenly start kicking the minerals or do I need to try something else? Thanks for your insight!

    Reply
    • The fact that they are eating dirt means they need the minerals. I’m a little concerned that the seller may not have had minerals available for them, so they are just used to eating dirt instead. Could you keep them in the barn for a few days so they can get used to the minerals and not have dirt available as an option?

      All of those kids should still be taking a bottle, so the minerals are not a huge part of their diet at this age because milk is still very important for them. Although the 8-week-old could survive if you weaned him it would be better if he continued getting a bottle for a few more weeks.

      Reply
      • They’re currently in a small grassy enclosure (about 20’x26′) with a 3 sided shelter/shed (8’x8′) split down the center with one side being a sleeping area (this is where I have the minerals) and the other being the hay and water side. I don’t have a way to close them in to restrict dirt licking . Is there any way to entice them to start eating the minerals without restricting them to a certain area? I think they’d go bonkers if I locked 4 goats into an 8×4 area together for any length of time .

        Any other ideas? Or should I bite the bullet and keep them in the 8×4 sleeping area for a few days? I could move hay and water in there if I had to.

        Reply
        • If they are accustomed to eating dirt, I’m not sure how long it will take them to switch over to the real minerals. You could try putting a little in your hand and seeing if you can get them to try it like that. They will only take a lick or two, so just put a little in your hand. Maybe they’d be more likely to try it if it’s in your hand. If that doesn’t work, I don’t have any other ideas.

          On the subject of the mineral you’re using, if these will just be pets Manna Pro is okay, but if you were planning to breed the does, it doesn’t have enough selenium in it. Sweetlix Meat Maker and Purina Goat Minerals have twice as much selenium as Manna Pro.

          Reply
          • Good to know about the minerals! I will switch them over to one of the other two bc we do plan to breed them next year! Thank you for your helpful suggestions!

      • Oh, and yes, they are still on whole cows milk, even the 8 week old buckling. I don’t plan on weaning him off milk till around 12 weeks (he is currently at 2 bottles a day). He will also be banded around 12 weeks. The other 3 goats are doelings

        Reply
  30. Hi there! We are new goat owners hoping to fulfill a dream of a mini farm. We have two boy kids (1 Nigerian Dwarf and 1 Miniature Myotonic). Our Myotonic is 4 weeks old this week, I’m looking to introduce hay and minerals to him. What type of hay should we look for here in GA? I’ve read that too much alfalfa can be harmful to our boy goats due to the high calcium levels. Once, we figure which type of hay , we’ll need to know whether to buy it in pellets or bales. Any advice? Also, HOW should we feed them? In a hay manger or something else? We really are new to this and there is SO much information out there that it ends up confusing me more than anything. Any help is greatly appreciated. Oh, and I’m not sure what the “goat terminology “ is for goat genders. Are boys “billies” and girls “nannies“? I’m very eager to learn. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your new goats! Reputable breeders castrate males that are sold as pets, so hopefully you have two wethers (castrated males) rather than bucks (intact males that will pee on their faces and get stinky when they mature). Female goats are called does. Billy and nanny are slang, so not normally used by serious breeders. Here is my Beginner’s Guide to Goats, which includes a glossary and links to articles on the basics.
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/a-beginners-guide-to-goats/

      Wethers and bucks should have a grass hay. If you’re in Georgia, you have access to peanut hay, which is a legume like alfalfa, so is only for does in milk. If you like to listen to podcasts, I interviewed a ruminant nutritionist a couple of months ago here:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/forage-and-feeding-goats/

      Sadly you do find a lot of contradictory info online about goats. That’s because not much research had been done on best practices until the last 15-20 years. Unfortunately NOTHING ever dies online! That means all of that old info is still out there and being passed around, even though current research has shown that it’s a bad idea. The info on this site is based upon current research, as well as my experience raising goats since 2002.

      Reply
  31. Hello,

    Similar to the last post I am also new to goats. I have two Nigerian Dwarf boys that are 8 weeks old. We are going to make them wethers but our vet said to wait until 4 months of age. In the mean time we have been feeding them MannaPro milk replacer since that is what the original owner had them on. They are currently still on the milk replacer about 3 bottles a day and have been foraging and eating plants and leaves in the yard. I have been providing them goat minerals, orchard hay, and starter feed as well as a bucket of fresh water since they were 3 weeks old but they don’t ever touch any of it. I am looking to start weening them off the milk replacer but worried they won’t get enough liquid since they won’t drink the water. Also wondering why they won’t eat the hay or minerals. Yesterday I noticed their pee is tiring a rust color. Do you have any advice?

    Reply
    • If you are giving them water in a bottle, that can cause them to pee blood. You don’t need to worry about them drinking water if you stop giving them milk. Because milk is 85% water, they don’t need much when they’re getting a bottle. I’d suggest slowing down the bottles gradually. All feed changes with goats should be made over the course of a few days to avoid digestive upsets.

      Reply
  32. Hello!

    Thank you for all of the information that you provide!

    I am a goat newbie. Currently have 2 Nigerian Dwarfs that are almost 4 months old. My goal is to start showing, breed and milk them. My concern is with our well water- We are in NW pa and have high iron and sulfur. They do NOT currently have good quality pasture to browse. I am currently feeding them free choice second cut hay, free choice Sweetlix Meatmaker mineral, and Hiland Naturals Non-GMO Heritage Goat Feed (1/4 c. for each of them twice a day). My girls are sisters. When I brought them home, one had clumpy poop (which I read could be stress induced) and currently she has dry flaky skin, is always scratching on something and her coat just isn’t as nice as her sisters. I had a fecal done just be make sure all was good there and my vet said one had some coccidia and gave me SMZ’s to give them both. I have not given it to them because I’m not sure if it’s needed (her poop returned to normal pellets). My vet didn’t actually do a count, just said there was coccidia present in one sample. I have had the girls for almost 2 weeks now. What do you recommend?

    Thank you in advance for your time.

    Reply
    • Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. It’s a good idea to check your goats’ eyelids weekly to be sure they are not getting anemic, which can be caused by coccidiosis or barber pole worms. If the kids are pooping pebbles, eating, and running around normally, they are probably fine. If they get diarrhea, it’s probably coccidiosis at that age. Let me know if you’ve seen additional symptoms.

      Reply
  33. Hello Deborah,

    At the risk of asking you to repeat information you’ve already written about, I’d like to describe our specific situation… Yesterday we brought home 3 ND kids—two doelings and a wether—siblings about 11 weeks old . They came from a reputable dairy farm, though not organic. Well into our commitment to them, I found your site and read that it’s best to purchase goats from a farm who manages them the way I intend to (I hope to work towards raising a herd as ‘organically’ as possible). This farmer also does not pasture his goats.

    Our kids were weaned at 2 months. They were then fed grass hay, Kent (medicated) Show Kid Developer 20R (which he gives for the first year of a goat’s life to prevent Coccidia), as well as Triple Crown Safe Starch Forage.

    I planned to wean them off of the Kent feed; I bought a bag of Purina Goat Feed that I intend to feed 1/4 C morning and evening to each until 6 months. They have nice grass hay only, free choice access to the Sweetlix minerals you recommend, and baking soda.

    It’s been awkward talking with the farm about my plans to switch food, and not use medicated food or supplements. They wanted me to confirm that the Purina grain at least has ammonium chloride for the wether. I see that the Purina Grower does (which I did not buy), but he Goat Feed does not. The wether was banded at about 2 months. I think you’ve said that young goats grow fast enough to utilize any calcium in their grain? So I shouldn’t worry that he won’t get ammonium chloride?

    Though I don’t intend to keep using it, the farm sent me home with a small amount of their Triple Crown Forage and recommended that I—continue with that for a few days, slowly eliminating it, not feeding any grain at all for 4 days, then slowly add the Purina Goat Feed to their diet. They also said to ease into foraging outside (which makes sense)—all in the name of not taxing their rumen, or stressing them out. It is a lot of change for the little ones!

    I didn’t think you advocated medicated food at all, but I did read in your response to Maranda, that medicated food or minerals may be beneficial for three weeks during the stressful time of moving and leaving their mama. If I’ve given you enough info, do you recommend these kids have medicated anything?

    I wrote to you recently about concrete versus dirt floors and you were extremely helpful. Thank you.

    Best,
    Lauri from Vermont

    Reply
    • Since the kids are not coming to a farm that has other adult goats, there is 0 parasite load on your pasture, so the chances of them getting coccidiosis is smaller than if you were adding them to an established herd. If you don’t want to continue the medicated feed, they will probably be fine since they’ve been getting it already. It does not actually kill coccidia. It simply interferes with their reproduction, so the kids probably have a pretty low level of coccidia at the moment. Just be aware that if they get diarrhea with 3-4 weeks, it’s probably coccidia and will need to be treated.

      If you want to raise your goats organically, the #1 most important thing is that they get LOTS of mama’s milk for several months. Two months is the absolute minimum age for weaning, even for people who are fine with using medicated feed. All of our coccidia problems pretty much went away when we realized that kids needed to nurse for months, and if I’m selling kids, now I wait until they are also a minimum of 20 pounds (Nigerian dwarf). This talks about that topic in more depth:
      Preventing coccidiosis
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/preventing-coccidiosis/

      How many kids can a doe feed? (how much milk they need)
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/how-many-kids-can-doe-feed/

      Reply
  34. Hi again Deborah,

    Adding a little more, new information to my post above . We’ve now had the kids for 2 and a half days. Per the farm’s request, I haven’t given them any Purina yet—they’re just eating the hay and Triple Crown Forage . I’m noticing they are lapping up quite a bit of minerals (as they did the first day we brought them home). So I’m wondering if I should start their Purina tomorrow rather than wait any longer. It’ll be interesting to see if they slow down on the minerals…

    Best,
    Lauri

    Reply
    • There is no reason to wait to start giving them the Purina. Just start with a handful a couple of times a day. Sudden dietary changes can upset their rumen. If they are mineral deficient, it’s not unusual for them to be gobbling up the minerals. It will slow down as they get caught up.

      Reply
  35. I sure wish my triplets (also from a first-time mom) had the jump start in life you describe; it makes me question my plan to raise these kids naturally, since there’s no going back…

    Lastly, I want to confirm—switching the wether to Purina without the ammonium chloride (until 6 months) should be okay?

    * Deborah, I am stunned by the amount of information you give away— free. I have ordered your book and look forward to doing on-line courses. I can only hope that what you get back in life is comparable to what you give.

    Reply
    • Since you are bringing them to a new farm with zero parasites on the pasture, that will make the transition much easier for them. They only have to deal with what they are carrying right now, so hopefully they will do well.

      I never say anything is impossible, but your wether should be fine without ammonium chloride in the grain if you are only giving him a small amount for a few months. I’d suggest mostly using it for training purposes, teaching them to follow you or to come into the barn at a certain time and things like that.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. You made my day! I really love goats and hate to see them suffer, so I want to get the info out there to help people raise them successfully.

      Reply
  36. In the picture you have displayed, it looks like there is salt on one side and loose mineral on the other. I just got my first two does and I’m trying to figure out exactly what I need to buy for them as far as minerals go and just wanted to make sure I didn’t need two different kinds.

    Reply
    • You should NEVER have salt available when you are using a mixed mineral that contains salt. You start with one mixed mineral, such as Sweetlix Meat Maker. Then watch your goats and see if they are showing symptoms of any specific deficiencies, and you address those individual deficiencies. The other side of the dish in this photo has a selenium-E supplement in it because I know that my goats’ liver levels tend to be borderline deficient with only the mixed mineral. This will vary from farm to farm depending upon local conditions, minerals in your soil (or lack of minerals), as well as what kind of minerals are in your well water. Check out the individual mineral articles on here for more information on symptoms of deficiencies.

      Reply
  37. Just found your website and have been trying to absorb all the info,
    I have 2 wether boys (brothers) that were born Nov 2018 and thier monther i am guessing is about 2 1/2 now. One of the boys has been acting stiff in his hind leg and hocks are not straight up as the should be. I feed grass hay only, no grain, no pasture no alphalfa. They have manna pro loose minerals, and icelandic kelp loose minerals and baking soda, all in separate bowls. I haven’t noticed them eating many minerarl lately so i gave some Kaeco Selenium & Vitamin E Gel yesterday. Everyone is eating well, and always hungry come meal time. They have had CD/T shot this summer and were wormed with Safegaurd liquid. I have never used copper BoSe or anything else copper.
    I don’t notice fishtail, and colors look ok to me. These are the first goat i have ever had. Mother was a rescue and babies a surprise. I try my best to read on what they need.
    I have no idea what is wrong, any ideas?

    Reply
    • Sorry for the late response. It would be impossible to know what is wrong based upon what you’ve said. It could have been something as simple as an injury. How is he doing now?

      Reply
  38. Hi Deborah. I have a mini donk in the pasture area where I keep my Nigerian boys (separate from the girls). I’m wondering if the Sweetlix meatmaker loose mineral is safe for the donkey. I do feed a sheep and goat grain to the boys because of the donkey in with them (recommended by the feed store), but we’re stumped about what to do about the minerals for them. They say they tried to reach out to Sweetlix with no reply, and my googling has been fruitless. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • The mineral won’t hurt the donkey as long as it is NOT medicated. The coccidiostat in medicated minerals or feed is toxic to equines. But adult goats should NOT have a medicated mineral or feed anyway. That is only meant to be fed short term to kids at weaning or other times of stress. Also, males goats really shouldn’t be getting grain because of the risk of urinary calculi. The donkey doesn’t need it either. Male goats and donkeys do fine on a good grass hay. But whenever you do give any grain or mineral to goats, it should NEVER be for “sheep and goats” because that means it has 0 or next to 0 copper in it, so you will wind up with copper deficient goats.

      Reply
  39. We have does and kids in a pasture with a new mini donkey. We have read goat mineral can be toxic to donkeys. Our donkey needs a mineral block as well. Is there a good go between we can offer to them both that’s safe?

    Reply
    • It is NOT the minerals that are toxic to donkeys and horses. Medicated minerals, however, have a coccidiostat in them that is toxic to equines. As long as you are not using medicated minerals, the donkey will be fine. And I don’t recommend medicated minerals anyway. Coccidiostats are really only needed when a young goat is going through a lot of stress, such as weaning or moving to a new home, so feeding a medicated goat feed at that time is a better option.

      Reply
  40. Hi, I got two wethers a couple months ago and didn’t know much about them so they haven’t been getting minerals but I just got Manna Pro Minerals and they say you should feed 1/4-1/2 oz a day but everything I’ve read says free choice but I’m paranoid of them overdosing. Is that possible if I put the minerals free choice? I don’t think they’ve ever had minerals.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Yes, minerals should be free choice. No worries about them overdosing. Goats are very good about only consuming as much as they need. Since they have never had minerals, they will probably consume a lot more than average in the first couple of weeks, but that’s because they are probably deficient in some minerals right now, so they just need to play catch up.

      The only cases I’ve ever heard of a goat overdosing on free choice minerals was goats that died of copper toxicity when feeding a mineral with 3000 ppm copper, but only five or six of the 100 goats in the herd died — so even in THAT situation, almost all of the goats were smart enough not to overconsume. MannaPro does not have an over-abundance of any minerals in it, so the chance of toxicity is pretty much 0. In fact, it has so little selenium in it that I do NOT recommend it for breeding animals. Wethers are fine because they are not producing sperms or growing babies. They are actually very easy keepers.

      Reply
    • I’m not sure I understand your question. Minerals should be made available free choice. It’s fine to put out 6 cups in a mineral feeder. They’ll eat it as they need it. Try not to let it run out. They need to consume it daily for best results. If it does run out, they may eat more for a few days to catch up.

      Reply
  41. Hello, Thank you so much for all of this info. I have a goat that has a big bald spot on her nose. We got her in August and she’s not quite a year old yet. Now the other 4 goats we have look like they also have thin hair on their noses. Our Vet wants me to get Zinpro because she thinks it’s possibly a zinc deficiency. I have no problem spending the money though it’s hard to find and $89. Right now we are using Manna Pro. We give them 1 tsp every night in their food. Should we be giving them it free choice instead? Is there a better loose mineral high in zinc that would be better or should I try to get the Zinpro? Thank you so much for your response. I’m very worried about her. Also, should I put something on her bald spot? It’s so cold here in Wisconsin right now. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Minerals should always be available free choice — and 1 teaspoon is nowhere near enough, and that would not be enough if you were using a high quality mineral. Unfortunately, Manna Pro is not a good mineral. Look at the mineral chart in the article, and you will see that it is too low in copper, selenium, cobalt, iodine, and zinc. If you just switch to Sweetlix mineral, you will be giving the goats 2x zinc and 4x selenium and about 50% more copper.

      In my experience, balding on the nose is due to copper deficiency. If a goat is zinc deficient, they will have balding in more places on various parts of the body. I have a free course that includes more info on copper deficiency here — https://thriftyhomesteader.teachable.com/p/copper-deficiency

      No worries on her nose being bald. When I had several goats with real zinc deficiency, they had lost large chunks of hair on their body in the middle of January, and they were fine.

      Reply
  42. Has Mannapro recently changed their formula? Your chart here doesn’t match the information I read on the package and the feed store. I don’t have a Sweetlix dealer near me, and the only store I could find the Purina in stock, is almost 50 miles away. I can find the Mannapro and Kent minerals locally and am wondering if either is an option for when we get our goats later this spring.

    Reply
    • We created this a year ago and used information from MannaPro’s website. I just checked, and all of the numbers are still the same. It would be terrible if the feed store had a bag of minerals that was more than a year old. What numbers are you seeing that are different?

      You can use this chart to compare to whatever minerals you can find locally. Hopefully you can find one that is similar to Sweetlix or Purina. It’s also important to note that goats don’t go through minerals that fast, so you won’t be buying them weekly or anything like that. For years our goat feed came from a store that was 50 miles away. We just planned our trips to be multi-purpose.

      Reply
  43. Hi Deborah,
    I’m in Canada and I’ve asked you questions about my mineral choices here where I live on the West coast. I am hoping to start my two milking Nigerians on a Dairy Pride Cattle mineral that is high in copper (4000mg/kg). When I showed you the specifics of this mineral mix, you said that level of copper was fine. I just rewatched your videos as I realized recently that there is no salt listed in this mineral mix. Does that mean the copper amount could potentially become a problem for my goats? If I provide free choice livestock salt, will that be enough to compensate for the lack of salt in my mix? And if it will, when is blue salt used?
    thank you so much for all your help,
    Julie Kimmel

    Reply
    • I searched my email and found the feed tag you sent me, and it does not have a list of ingredients. It says “A list of the ingredients used in this feed may be obtained from the manufacturer or registrant.” I’d suggest contacting them to verify the lack of salt. I have never seen a mixed mineral without salt that did not include instructions to add salt. So I suspect that it does contain salt. This seems to be the most common mineral fed to goats in Canada, and if no one is having problems, it seems like it’s a really good place to start. Typically, manufacturers need to formulate the minerals with a level of salt that creates the correct consumption. So with this level of copper and selenium, I’d expect 30-40% salt.

      Feeding directions say that a 400 kg cow would consume 68 grams of minerals per day, so if I divide that by 8 for a goat, that would be 8.5 gram per day. Predicted consumption of Sweetlix Meat Maker is about 14 grams per day, which is almost twice as much, so that also leads me to think that the salt content is going to be at least 30% in your mineral. Expected consumption of Purina is about 1/3 to 1/2 as much as Sweetlix and it has about 50% more salt.

      Reply
      • Okay, I will find out how much salt is in this mix.
        Is there a risk of the goats not eating enough of the mineral mix if the salt content is up at high as 30%?
        I do know other people who are using this mix but I think one person does alternate between another mix.

        Reply
        • No. The salt is added to keep the goats from over-consuming, so ideally the higher the mineral levels, the higher the salt. Goats will only consume so much salt in a day, which is what keeps them from consuming enough minerals to get toxicosis.

          Reply
          • Just to follow up with you, just called the company and there is no salt in this dairy minerals. Not sure if I can just provide salt free choice?

          • I have absolutely zero experience with any mixed minerals that do NOT have salt. Frankly, it really scares me. It’s not an issue of giving the goats salt. It’s an issue of controlling the goats’ intake of the mixed minerals. And THAT is what scares me. Having salt in the mixed minerals is insurance that they won’t over-consume the minerals. THAT is the main reason I can say with confidence that goats won’t over-consume mixed minerals. I have NO idea what your goats will do with minerals that have no salt in them. I know it can work with individual minerals, and I used to do that myself with selenium when I could purchase one that used wheat middlings as the carrier (rather than salt). But I have not seen any kind of research on mixed minerals without salt. I would either be looking for another mineral, or if nothing else was available, I’d probably be comparing it to minerals with salt and trying to create my own formula with an appropriate amount of salt and then monitoring their intake and keeping copious notes.

  44. I tried to find a comment that had my goat problem to no avail. Since it’s all a delicate balance, and I’m struggling I figured I’d at least ask. I’m very new at raising goats. We’re an urban farm, therefore this leaves us with space restrictions. My gals definitely don’t have forage other than what we bring home on hikes for them on occasion. I had my two does for two years with no problems. But, my one gal, late in pregnancy started to have what appears like mineral deficiencies in the triad (zinc, copper, selenium) that she hasn’t bounced back from. She’s fed alfalfa with a little barley grain and BOSS on the stand. Loose minerals were switched Redmond to Purina which she eats like candy. So now she’s getting more of the triad, but she’s also getting more calcium from the minerals as well. I’ve upped her bolus to every 4 months and supplemented with selenium gel. All of a sudden, now it sends like zinc is an issue as well. She also used to get alfalfa pellets on the stand that I recently stopped. She’s an amazing milker, especially for a first freshener. I fear she’s putting everything into her milk production. Is this still a case of reducing calcium? If so, I’m at a loss as to how to do that while still getting milk. Appreciate any advice.

    Reply
    • Definitely do NOT reduce her calcium if she is milking. I can’t really comment on this situation because you have not talked about any symptoms at all, plus I like to see photos. Many times people don’t actually have a problem — or their problem is completely different than what they think it is. I would NOT expect a milking doe to have a problem with too much calcium causing zinc deficiency.

      From what you have said, you could have some sort of deficiencies. Barley and BOSS is NOT a sufficient feed for a milking doe. She needs a high quality goat feed, such as Purina Goat Chow. Barley and boss are low protein, high carb, and they have no added minerals. A goat feed with 16% protein is ideal, and it also needs added copper, selenium, and other minerals. Purina Goat Chow and Dumor Sweet Goat Feed have the most consistently high level of copper I’ve seen — it’s around 35-40 ppm copper. You need to look for those specific feeds because other Purina and Dumor goat feeds have about half as much copper.

      You didn’t say what brand of selenium gel you are using, but all of the ones I’ve seen are completely worthless. There is so little selenium in them that you could give them the entire tube, and it wouldn’t affect them.

      I also have articles on here on copper, selenium, and zinc, plus podcast episodes on copper and selenium where you can get more info. What are the symptoms you are seeing? How have they changed? How much copper did you give her?

      Reply
    • You’re the first person to mention that one. Blue Seal feeds are only available regionally, and in the comparison chart, I focused on products more widely available. I looked up Min-A-Vite, and it is labeled for cattle, horses, and goats, which is probably why I haven’t had anyone ask about it before. Most of the minerals look pretty good except selenium. I really like to see 50 ppm selenium because it tends to be a problem for most areas, and this product only has 25 ppm selenium, so it would probably be okay for wethers, but breeding does would probably need another selenium supplement.

      Reply
  45. First of all, thank you! Your site is the first one I’ve found to be truly helpful. Last week, we got 4 boer does all about a year old. Right now, they are just pets but we do want to breed them at some point. The gentleman we got them from said he fed them free choice Bermuda hay, mineral blocks, sulphur blocks during the summers, then Dumor goat feed (pellets) and Manna Pro goat balancer every 3rd day. From reading your site, it sounds like I need to replace the mineral block with a free choice mineral. I can’t find Sweetlix near me but we do have Purina goat minerals. Is the Bermuda bay sufficient? And, am I reading right that we should stop feeding them the goat feed & balancer? Or is it ok to continue that? They appear to be a healthy weight, not overweight. Thank you again for taking the time to help!

    Reply
    • Unless they are underweight, they don’t need the grain. Loose Purina Goat Minerals are great. The blocks don’t have enough minerals in them, so don’t be surprised if they go after the loose minerals like crazy for a week or two. They should slow down once they get their mineral levels up. Bermuda hay is fine until they are in the last two months of pregnancy. Then they should have at least 50% alfalfa. More alfalfa is fine. It’s high in calcium and helps with milk production. Goat Balancer is a waste of money, so you are correct that a good green grass hay and free-choice, LOOSE minerals are sufficient for now. Here is more on diet: https://thriftyhomesteader.com/what-do-goats-eat-it-depends/

      Reply

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