Oak Hill goat videos


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Goats & Copper supplementation

I frequently get questions about copper and goats.  This is a topic of much debate and discussion, and there has been less research than on the copper needs of sheep, cattle and horses.  In Europe, copper needs for dairy goats have been established.

Here are some key points I have found out about copper.  I am not listing all the various citations after each point.  You can google the topics and find citations to back up any of these statements, unless otherwise indicated:
  • The form of copper is critical.  Copper oxides are very hard to absorb and use.  Copper sulfates are more absorbable.  Copper proteinate is even more absorbable.  Copper amino acid chelate is the most absorbable.  Amino acid chelated copper also catalyzes the uptake of the more unabsorbable forms.
  • Other minerals can inhibit or enable copper uptake.  What you feed the copper with is just as important as the copper itself, and this includes your water, pasture, hay and grain.
  • Iron is a copper inhibitor.  If you live in an area of high iron soil, you are more likely to need additional copper.
  • Goats need more copper than sheep.  Feeding a supplement designed for sheep will lead to copper deficiency and health issues.
  • Goats likely need as much copper as cattle, possibly more.
  • Copper has the potential to accumulate in the liver, and if the animal is stressed, release suddenly causing a severe health crisis.
Some thoughts on the research establishing copper requirements in goats:
  • The research should consider the form the copper is in, as some forms are more likely to accumulate rather than flush from the body.
  • Mineral interactions are so complex, can one mineral truly be isolated in a study?
Here are several links I found:

So, all of this being said, what I have chosen to do at Oak Hill for our goats is based on all of the information above, plus anecdotal information from various goat keepers, combined with muscle testing to tailor the nutrition to my herd and environment.  At Oak Hill, I have 2 basic feed programs - one for animals that are breeding, pregnant or lactating and one for the resting season and whethers.
Here is an older blog post on the subject.  For the pregnant/breeding/lactating goats, I use a pinch of Regular Dynamite (horse formula), fed 6 days/week.  For resting/whethers, I offer the Dynamite V/M Mix for Browsers & Grazers free choice.  For both groups, I always offer the following free choices:  Dynamite 1-1, Dynamite 2-1, Dynamite Izmine, Dynamite NTM Salt and baking soda.
Once or twice a year, the goats are off all their supplements while they do their 28 days on Dynamite Herbal Tonic.  I feel this may also allow them to flush any excess copper from their body.

I use the Dynamite product line because the minerals are amino acid chelated, and because Dynamite is a family owned and operated business with great ethics and a moneyback guarantee on their products.  I use their horse products, in smaller amounts, because they have not yet released an exclusive goat product line.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your goat’s health program.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love is in the air...or is that eau de rutting buck?

Winky & Tonka
The bucks are in full rut, and fall breeding season is underway. Oak Hill Tonka, being the youngest buck, has never experienced breeding season before. Periwinkle, on the other hand, has been around the block a few times. So Winky and Tonka are spending the next few months bunking together, while Winky hopefully shows Tonka the ropes.

Tonka was quite enthusiastic and persistent when it came to his cousins a few months back.  Now faced with a full-grown doe, he has suddenly become shy.  When I first put them together, Winky was in full heat.  She stood at the fence, ignored Tonka, and called plaintively across 2 pens to our lead buck Dreamer.  They are sharing hay now so she has at least decided Tonka is good company.  I'll give them a few heat cycles, and if Tonka is still reluctant Winky will get either Dreamer or Gandalf.

Meanwhile, Carlotta has been bred to Cocoa Puff, as that cross has produced really spectacular peacocks (Harley and Tonka) with good size and conformation.  If she conceived, the kids will be here in March.

Astro (left rear), Harley (right rear) & Chickadee
Chickadee and Harley are both in with Astro.  If the peacock coloring breeds true, they should both have marbled-blue-eyed peacock polled kids.  I'm crossing my fingers and visualizing like crazy.

Astro smelling his women

Mimosa will be bred to Cocoa Puff in the next few weeks, Chryssy to Gandalf, and Truffle to Dreamer.

Until next post, may you always be upwind of the bucks.

Carrie & the Oak Hill gang

Monday, October 4, 2010

Preparations for fall breeding season

Here at Oak Hill breeding starts at the end of October/early November for early spring kids. I start preparing the herd for breeding season in late August/early September roughly 2 months prior to the first planned breeding. First, I stop all the regular supplements other than the free choice minerals, salt and baking soda.  You can see this earlier blog post for the complete Oak Hill feeding program.  While the goats are off the supplements, they get Dynamite Herbal Tonic (listed under Horse products) for 10 days following the label directions for small animals (1/4 tsp per 10 lbs bodyweight twice). Herbal Tonic contains a variety of herbs, such as Wheat Grass Extract, Blessed Thistle, Ginkgo, Red Elcampagne Root, Garlic Powder, Black Walnut Hulls, Cayenne Pepper, Peach Bark, Chamomile, White Oak Bark, Valerian Root, Slippery Elm, Sage, Papaya Leaves, Juniper Berries, Cascara Sagrada Root, Equisetum Arvense, Yellowdock and Catnip, as well as minerals, pre/probiotics and other ingredients to support healthy digestion. (Some of these herbs have historically been used to repel or remove parasites and cleanse the liver.)
After 10 days on Herbal Tonic I wait a couple days and then I deworm any goats that show signs of heavy parasite loads. At most, I may have 1 or 2 goats in the herd that might need a chemical dewormer once each year. Your vet can check for parasites if you have any concerns. Be aware that lungworms do not show up on the most common fecal tests. Here is a good reference article on chemical dewormers http://www.goat-idgr.com/Default.aspx?tabid=93 If I use a chemical dewormer on a goat, I supplement with montmorillonite clay for 3 days(I use Dynamite Miracle Clay or Excel) starting 24 hours after the last dose of
chemical dewormer.

After the goats are done with their Herbal Tonic, dewormed if necessary, and given their clay if needed, I start increasing their nutrition prior to the actual breeding. This is called "flushing". I like my goats to be pasture fit, not too thin and not too fat. I start adding in just a handful or two of Dynamite Pelleted Grain Ration (corn, oats, barley, soy and other ingredients) twice a day and also start regular formula Dynamite vitamin/mineral supplement. While this is currently labeled for horses, I find it does an excellent job for my goats. The minerals are amino acid chelated, making them very absorbable and also easy for the body to flush any extra (especially important for copper). My goats get just a pinch of Dynamite once daily, 6 days/week.   Both the Pelleted Grain Ration and Dynamite supplement can be found at www.dynamitemarketing.com/carrieeastman under Horse Products.

I also add in a handful of black oil sunflower seeds even closer to the planned breeding date.  Make sure the sunflower seeds are not treated with a sprouting inhibitor.

Sometime during the 2 month prep period I also put all the breeding stock on a few drops of zeolite mineral daily for 30 days. Zeolite absorbs toxins, especially heavy metals. I use the Waiora brand Natural Cellular Defense zeolite.

Finally, during this period I start tracking heat cycles and plan the buck x doe crosses.  I use the spreadsheet available for download at http://www.fiascofarm.com/