Oak Hill goat videos


Monday, December 9, 2013

Copper revisited, and a bit more about chelates and compounds for you science folks

Copper revisited, and a bit more about chelates and compounds for you science folks
by Carrie Eastman

In order to talk about supplementing goats with copper, let's first understand what copper is.
Copper is a metal element, important for many functions in the body.
Copper can exist in several forms.
Elemental copper Cu is copper all by itself and very reactive
Copper compounds are copper bonded to other elements, such as copper sulfate or copper oxide.
Copper can also bond to protein, making copper proteinate.
Finally, copper can form a true chelate with amino acids.  A true chelate is defined by low molecular weight, one bond ionic and one covalent, and the electrical charge neutralized.  You can learn more about the science of chelation at http://www.albionnutritionalfacts.com/index.php/knowledge-base/about-knowledge-base/33-knowledge-base/about-chelated-minerals/59-vitamins-minerals-chelates-what-s-the-difference?

The next important point to realize is that the body has the ability to chelate minerals that are ingested.  Chelation happens in the liver.   This process takes time and energy and amino acid resources, and is not always completed for every elemental metal that makes it into the system.

So, having established some of the basics, let's circle back to how copper gets into a goat.
First the goat eats something containing copper.  This would include copper boluses.

  • If the goat ate elemental copper Cu, which is very reactive and unlikely to exist without being bonded, then the elemental copper will either react with ingredients in the gut, preventing absorption, or would be absorbed .
  • If the goat ate a copper compound (for example copper oxide Cu2O) or copper proteinate, the copper is split away from whatever it is bonded to in the gut during digestion.  This splitting leaves behind elemental copper to react or be absorbed.  (Cu2O is split into Cu and oxygen)
  • If the goat ate amino acid chelated copper, the copper is not highly reactive and does not have to be split apart.  The copper can be easily absorbed.

*Now remember, elemental copper Cu is very reactive.  It is just as likely to react with ingredients in the gut as it is to absorb.  The only copper stable enough to resist reacting with other items in the gut and be absorbed is amino acid chelated copper.

Absorption takes place place through the mucosa that lines the digestive tract, into the blood stream or into the lymph.

The lymph and blood carry the minerals and nutrients to the liver.

The liver regulates copper levels in the bloodstream, as well as stores copper reserves for times when copper supply is low.  If the liver has more copper than is needed, the extra copper is excreted in the bile and passes out of the body in the feces.  The liver also bonds the elemental copper to proteins, mainly ceruloplasmin, and also albumin and some other proteins.  Copper MUST be bonded to a protein by the liver to be used by the body after it is absorbed from the digestive tract.

Remember, elemental copper that isn't bonded is very reactive.  Copper that isn't bonded to a protein floats free in the bloodstream, and because it has a positive charge and is reactive, it causes oxidative stress (think internal rust) or it looks for something to bond with and then deposits in unintended locations, especially the brain and reproductive organs.  Bonding elemental copper to ceruloplasmin takes energy, the correct supply of amino acids, and depends on the reactive elemental making it to the liver without reacting with something it meets along the way.  Not all elemental copper will make it to the liver to be bonded to ceruloplasmin.

All copper that makes it into the gut and is absorbed will either be absorbed as an amino acid chelate, highly stable and ready to use, or will be absorbed as a very reactive elemental copper  Cu molecule.

So the form of the copper ingested determines whether or not the copper can be absorbed and how easily it is absorbed.

The health of the liver then determines whether the absorbed copper is used for health, or creates toxic issues in the body.

In nature, goats eat copper in a variety of compounds and chelates and generally do just fine.  So why do goats get into trouble with copper toxicity?  Because goats in nature are not being fed large quantites of copper compounds as happens with domestic goats being fed feeds and supplements containing these compounds.

Copper supplementation for goats is still 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.  Amino acid chelated copper is the only form of copper that does not have to be broken apart in the gut into elemental copper Cu.
  • 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.
  • Zinc is also closely tied to copper, and to iron.  As is sulfur.  All minerals are connected.  Focusing on just one will drive you crazy, and leave your goats with too much or too little of something.
  • 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 wethers.
For the pregnant/breeding/lactating goats, I add a pinch of Regular Dynamite (horse formula), fed 6 days/week to my basic resting/wether program.  For resting/wethers, I offer the Dynamite V/M Mix for Browsers & Grazers free choice, blended with some diatomaceous earth (1 cup DE per 5 lbs of V/M Mix).  I also offer the following free choices:  Dynamite 1-1, Dynamite 2-1, Dynamite Izmine, Dynamite NTM Salt or Redmond salt and baking soda.  There is copper in the V/M Mix, the 1-1 and 2-1 and the Izmine.
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.

You can find the Dynamite products at www.dynamitemarketing.com/carrieeastman 

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

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.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Salt for goats

Salt For Goats
by Carrie Eastman

One of the key supplements for goats.
And so often misused, underused, overused, or used in ways the goats cannot utilize.
So, let's learn about salt.

First, when folks say salt, the mineral that is really being referred to is sodium.  Salt is sodium chloride NaCl.  Sodium is very reactive, and never found in nature by itself as Na.  When salt is eaten, the body splits the sodium and chloride apart.  For you science-minded folks, here is a sodium link for more details.

Salt is critical for good health.  Salt is used to maintain the fluid and mineral balance between the outside and the inside of the cells in the body.  Inside the cell potassium is higher and outside sodium is higher.  Salt levels in the blood drop as the body transmutes sodium to potassium to maintain that balance.  The salt the goats eat restores the blood salt levels and keeps the cells balanced.

Salt also activates the first digestive enzyme in the mouth, salivary amylase. In the parietal cells of the stomach wall, sodium chloride generates hydrochloric acid, one of the most important of all digestive secretions.

This delicate balance between sodium and potassium in the body is the reason that salt should not be force fed or withheld.  Allowing goats to choose how much to consume each day lets them maintain their sodium balance.  How much salt is enough salt for a goat?  Well, that really depends on the goat, the diet, the current temperature, stress levels, etc.  Basically, the goat will eat as much or as little as is necessary for good health.  Sometimes that is just a nibble.  Sometimes that can be some very large quantities, ounces per day.  So it is very important to provide plenty of fresh water, and to provide salt that is not mixed with other supplements, feed or additives that could limit or artificially encourage consumption.

Salt is often added to feed and supplement mixes.  And you will see two different listings on the guaranteed analysis.  A sodium Na listing and a salt NaCl listing.  This is done to account for sodium that may be in the feed as other sodium compounds.  You can read more about sodium compounds here.  Salt is sometimes used to make feeds taste better.  And manufacturers sometimes hide high salt levels by listing the salt multiple times in the ingredient list, such as listing salt, then further down listing sodium chloride.  Generally speaking, unless the products IS a salt supplement, you should not see salt showing up in the top 5 ingredients.

Salt supplements are available as blocks or loose.  Salt comes in white, pink, gray, tan or minerals-added.

First, the problems with blocks.
Much of the problem lies with the goats' tongues.  Goats have smooth tongues.  Like a horse.  Cows on the other hand have very rough tongues.  Goats, even more than horses, are unable to get sufficient salt from solid blocks.  A cow can lick a salt block and sandpaper off a day's supply of salt.  Failing to lick enough salt off a block, a horse or goat will bite the block to break off chunks.  Biting those blocks has the potential to injure the temporomandibular joint, also known as the tmj, the joint where the jaw is connected to the skull.  The tmj is the only paired joint in the body, and critical for proper spinal alignment, which in turn affects thousands of nerves located at the first few vertebrae of the neck.

The tmj is the area around "A" where the mandible is tucked under the zygomatic arch. http://instruction.cvhs.okstate.edu/vmed5412/Lect013.htm
Another good diagram of a goat skull showing the tmj.  http://www.goatbiology.com/animations/skullside.html

So, chewing salt blocks is not healthy for goats.

Additionally, many blocks are formed using binding agents.  Binding agents are an unneccesary and potentially unhealthy addition to the goats' diet.  The exception to the binding agents are the pink Himalayan chunks.  Blocks often also have flavoring or coloring added.  Mineral blocks also have minerals added.  The minerals will be non-chelated and not easily absorbed or excreted.  To learn more about chelated and non-chelated minerals go to Albion minerals.

 Loose salt on the other hand allows goats to consume as much salt as needed without stressing the tmj or adding binding agents to the diet.

Not all loose salts are equal though.  First of all, loose salt should clump with the weather is humid.  Salt that does not clump has been treated with flow enhancers or anti-caking agents.  Common additives are ferrocyanide, yellow prussiate of soda, tricalcium phosphate, alumino-calcium silicate, sodium alumino-silicate.  Beyond their potential toxicity, these additives prevent salt from mixing with water in the body.

Natural salt is never white.  Natural salt colors are tan, gray or pink.  White salt has been bleached.  'Nuff said about that.

Salt is either mined from the ground or made by evaporating sea water.  The issue with sea salt is that the oceans have become fairly polluted.  Radiation, heavy metals, and industrial pollution are all found in the world's oceans today.  Mined salt typically comes from old deposits, laid down before pollution was an issue.  That being said, a reputable salt company tests it's salt for contaminants and can provide an analysis upon request.

So now that we have determined that healthy salt for goats should be loose, unbleached, with no additives and from a mine, what salt brands are good to use?

I personally either use Dynamite NTM salt or Redmond salt.  There are other excellent brands out there.  Just follow the basic rules of selecting a good salt.

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

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.