In addition to the medications I shared on my 10 Must Have Goat Medications post, there are also a few supplements and nutritional support items you should always keep on hand if you are a goat owner. These are vitamins and other nutritional supplements for goats that either need to be made available at all times or used when you see signs of deficiency in your animals.
8 Nutritional Supplements for Your Goats
Just like humans, your goats need to take their vitamins and loose minerals are the best way to get those vitamins into their bodies. These loose minerals should be offered free choice and available to your goats at all times. Goats are notorious for stepping in or otherwise soiling their food or hay, so be sure to offer the minerals in a way that prevents soiling from happening. You can make your own feeder out of PVC or buy small mineral feeders. Be sure to look for a complete formula that contains all the essential nutrients- and also make sure your minerals are labeled for use in goats and not sheep. Copper is essential in goats and sheep cannot have copper.
Baking Soda, or Sodium Bicarbonate, is another nutritional support that should be available to your goats free choice at all times. We buy a big bag at our local feed store to keep on hand in a large can in the barn. It can be used for all sorts of things- on the farm and in the house- and we keep it next to the loose minerals in our double compartment mineral feeders. Baking Soda aids in your goats digestion and helps to prevent bloat. They will only take as much as they need, when they need it. If it starts to look old, just sprinkle the old stuff on the barn floor and replace it with new.
Probios is a probiotic that is good to use to keep your goat’s rumen running smoothly. It is full of beneficial bacteria to help start or recover good rumen function. We give every kid born on our farm Probios at about 3 days of age to jump start their rumen. We also dose our adult goats when they are sick, after antibiotic use, or when they are transported for any reason.
Selenium is a trace mineral that is present in the soil. If you live in an area that is deficient, chances are your goats will not get a sufficient amount of this mineral and become deficient. Soil is considered deficient when there is less than 0.5mg of selenium per kg of soil. (If you would like to know about your area, here is a map of the selenium levels in the US). Selenium is an important mineral for reproductive health and proper muscle function. Last year we had one of our new does give birth to triplets, one of which couldn’t stand due his ankles bending backwards. This white muscle disease is the most common signs of selenium deficiency in kids. Adults can show signs of deficiency by abortions, stillbirth, or inability to conceive. We give our adult does an injection BoSe, which is available by prescription only, about a month before kidding. We also give BoSe to any kids presenting with White Muscle Disease. We also keep a Selenium/Vitamin E gel on hand which we give everyone at the beginning of breeding season. The margin for toxicity is small, so make sure you dose correctly for your goat and check that you are in a deficient area first.
I’ve spoken about Nutri-Drench before and it is probably one of my most used supplements. It is simply concentrated vitamins and minerals that are readily absorbed for quick energy. I give it to any goat that just seems off, recovering from sickness, and young kids and newborns (like my little one with white muscle disease) to help them have the energy to eat and grow like they are supposed to. Sometimes it can be the very thing to help a sick goat make it through the night and get on the way to recovery.
Copper is another mineral that is essential for your goats. Copper is usually added to their feed as well as in their loose minerals. Even with these fortification most goats will need supplementation in the form of a copper bolus. Copper deficiency can cause poor growth in kids, poor coat quality and less resistance to parasites. One of the telltale signs of copper deficiency is the “fish tail”- when the hair at the end of the goat’s tail has split into what looks like a fish tail. We use a product called Copasure. Ours is for cows, so we split open the capsules and dose the goats for their weight- putting the copper rods in their herbal worming balls. They also make a goat version of Copasure, but be sure to dose correctly for your goats weight to keep copper levels below a toxic level.
Vitamin B Complex/Thiamine
The B Vitamins are made inside a healthy goat’s rumen everyday. When they are sick or rumen function is compromised because they are off feed you will need to supplement their vitamins with an injection of the B Vitamins. Vitamin B12 is very helpful in goats suffering from anemia or recovering from other illnesses. Vitamin B1, or Thiamine, is necessary for metabolism and neurological activity. And is one of the only things that will save your goat if they come down with Goat Polio. Thiamine deficiency can cause many life threatening conditions, so it’s good to keep a Fortified Vitamin B Complex on hand at all times. We use an injectable formula from Southern States but there is also a paste that can be used for less severe conditions.
Red Cell/Iron Supplement
An iron supplement is a must have when you own any livestock. Whenever you are dealing with a goat with anemia you will want to help keep them going by giving them an iron supplement as they build up their red blood cell count. We keep Red Cell on hand and our goats take it pretty easily. You can also purchase a paste or injectable iron supplement. Again, please make sure you use the correct dose for your goat’s weight.
Add these things, along with all the necessary medications, to your livestock medical cabinet and you will be ready for anything that comes your way!