ARDEN HILLS, Minn. — How do you decide what mineral to feed your goats? Is it the same mineral you’ve always fed, a mineral your neighbor feeds or are you skipping mineral altogether? Mineral plays a critical role in goat performance, so it’s important to select the right mineral for your herd.
“While mineral may be a small portion of your goats’ diet, it aids in many vital functions and impacts everything from reproduction to feed efficiency and overall herd health,” says Clay Elliott, Ph.D. and small ruminant nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. “If I could give goat producers one piece of advice, it would be to not skimp on mineral. Provide a quality mineral that supports performance.”
Here are three things to look for in your goat mineral:
1. Provides consistent intake
The most important aspect of a mineral is to provide vital nutrients your goats might be lacking. But how can you be sure your goats are getting the intended nutrients if they don’t consistently eat the mineral?
“Choosing a palatable mineral assures that your goats are eating and receiving proper amounts of essential minerals like copper and calcium,” says Elliott.
Also, look for a mineral that’s formulated for low intake.
Palatability and low intake might sound like a contradiction, but the idea is for goats to get the nutrition they need while avoiding overconsumption. When goats consume mineral at target intake levels, no minerals get wasted and each goat gets the nutrition it needs.
2. Supports reproduction
Many forages lack the essential minerals needed for sound reproductive health. And, if goats don’t receive supplemental nutrition to fill the gap, you may see an impact on reproductive performance.
“This could cause your cost per kid to rise steadily, which no producer wants to see,” says Elliott.
Goats also have significantly increased energy needs during late gestation. Mineral deficiencies during this time can impact both the doe and the kid. Supplementing with a mineral high in calcium can help prepare goats for increased nutrient and energy needs to support overall health.
Providing quality mineral nutrition can help, but so can another key ingredient: fat.
Fat provides energy and helps optimize body condition to support reproductive health. Consider using high-fat protein supplements in conjunction with your goat mineral.
3. Formulated for year-round feeding
Many goat producers only offer mineral during the fall when forage quality decreases. But, your goat may lack minerals throughout the year and you might not know it. Mineral deficiencies are often overlooked because the symptoms can be slow to show or difficult to connect back to a nutrition issue.
“Supplying a mineral when forage quality decreases is common practice, but the best way to support performance and reproductive health is to provide a mineral year-round,” says Elliott. “Long-term mineral deficiencies can directly impact your bottom line, since your herd won’t perform its best.”
Look for a weatherized mineral that can stand up to the changing seasons year-round. Minerals formulated with larger particle sizes can help prevent waste due to wind, water or anything else Mother Nature throws at it.
Purina® Goat Mineral is uniquely formulated with essential nutrients to support development and health in goats of all ages and breeds. Learn more at purinamills.com/goat-feed.
Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (www.purinamills.com) is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the United States. Driven to unlock the greatest potential in every animal, the company is an industry-leading innovator offering a valued portfolio of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is headquartered in Arden Hills, Minn. and a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.
For more articles on livestock, click here.