You’re probably aware that goats require copper to maintain good health. Knowing how, why, and when to supplement can be a little confusing, so I’m here to break it down for you.
Where do goats get copper?
Goats get copper from the soil in which their hay is grown, their grain if given any, and their free choice loose mineral.
However, copper deficiency is fairly common amongst goats in the United States because much of the country has low levels of copper in the soil in which feed is grown.
There may also be high levels of other minerals that inhibit copper absorption in the soil or water such as iron, lead, and manganese.
So even if your goat is regularly consuming copper from these sources, they still may require additional supplementation.
What are signs of copper deficiency in goats?
- “Fish tail”
- Hair loss from the tip of the tail creates a fish tail shape
- Hair loss
- Especially around the eyes and face
- Coat changes
- Coat may change colors. For example, black can appear reddish. Your goat's coat may also appear dull and wiry.
- Weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Heavy worm load
If you observe a number of these symptoms together, you may want to talk to your vet about giving your goat a copper bolus.
What is a copper bolus?
A long acting copper supplement that contains copper oxide wire particles. The capsule stays in the goat’s rumen and slowly releases the copper over time.
There are several different brands available, but we like to use Ultracruz.
How do I give a copper bolus to my goat?
You can try hiding it in treats but goats can be pretty clever and may chew and spit out the copper bolus.
To prevent your goat from chewing or spitting out the capsule, you need to place it as far back into their throat as possible. However, getting your fingers chomped by a goat is not fun to say the least.
We have found that the easiest way to give a copper bolus is by using a bolus or balling gun.
Insert the copper bolus into the hollow end of the gun and place the tip in the back of your goat’s mouth. Then, push the applicator down, which will release the capsule. Hold your goat’s mouth closed and gently run their throat until they swallow.
How often do I need to give my goat a copper bolus?
Each bolus generally lasts for about 8 months to a year, but you may need to give more or less frequently depending on the number and severity of copper deficiency symptoms you observe in your herd.
Take care not to over do it. Even though it is rare, copper toxicity is possible with over supplementation. Only supplement on an as needed basis. When in doubt, always consult veterinarian.