Copper deficiency in goats is very common and can cause all sorts of health problems if left untreated.
We live in an area that is pretty deficient in copper amounts in the soil, which means loose minerals aren’t enough when it comes to copper for the goats. They need additional copper in the form of a bolus 3-4 times a year.
Over the years we’ve tried a number of ways to get the boluses into the goats. We’ve tried mixing them into their herbal de-worming balls. We tried mixing them into bread and marshmallows. We tried cutting off the end of syringe and mixing it with something like probios and shooting it into their mouths. None of these were particularly successful.
The thing is, you have to get those copper rods WAY down their throats to keep the goats from chewing them. This means the goat will fight you and your fingers will have to also be way down their throats. And I don’t know about you, but those back teeth are sharp! And speaking from experience, I don’t want my fingers anywhere near them!
Therefore, the easiest way to copper bolus a goat- is just to get it as far down their throat, using something other than your fingers, and force them to take it!
But before we get to that, let’s talk a little about copper deficiency…
Signs that you Need to Copper Bolus Your Goat:
- Wiry or rough coat
- Faded, sun-bleached appearance to their coat. This is especially noticeable in black goats
- Bald tip or “fish-tail” look to their tail
- High worm load or having a hard time fighting off parasites
Basically, if your goat looks a bit scruffy, seems to need constant worming, maybe showing signs of anemia. You probably need to address copper deficiency.
Related Reading: How to Diagnose and Treat Anemia in Goats
How to Copper Bolus a Goat
This is a pretty simple process. You will need 2 people- one to hold the goat and one to insert the copper bolus into their mouth. Or you can put your goat on the milk stand.
If you are new to goats, I recommend reading up as much as you can before you purchase. You can find a lot of articles here on The Free Range Life that will teach you about goat care and be sure to check out The Busy Homesteader’s Goat Management Binder– it’s full of to-do lists, checklists, record keeping sheets, and resource pages that will get your new goat herd off to a great start!
Supplies you need are:
- Copper Bolus capsules. You can use Ultra Cruz for Goats or Copasure. Copasure is dosed for cows, so you would have to open up the capsules and measure out the correct amount. We used Copasure for years because it was the only thing available, but the Ultra Cruz makes things simpler.
- A bolus gun
- Something sticky- like peanut butter, selenium/Vitamin E gel, or Probios– this will help ensure the capsule doesn’t fall out of the bolus gun to early and it helps the capsule stick in the rumen so that it has time to dissolve and allow the rods to go where they are supposed to go.
To get ready, place a little bit of your peanut butter or gel in the bolus gun and place a capsule down on top of it.
Then all you need to do is pull out the goat you are dosing so that the others don’t get all up in your face trying to steal your peanut butter or other supplies.
If you are not using a milk stand, have one person hold the goat’s head tightly with it tilted upwards and pry open their mouths. Straddling is the best way to do this- unless you are dealing with a goat with horns.
As soon as the goat’s mouth is open, shove the bolus gun as far back as possible. Really, really far. So far you think you will hurt them or choke them.
Then press the capsule in, remove the bolus gun and hold the goat’s mouth shut until you hear them swallow. You want to make sure that they swallow and not chew the capsule so that the rods stay the correct length and release copper over the next few months as expected.
Related Reading: Why Your Goats Need B Vitamins
That’s all there is too it! Much easier than coaxing them to eat a copper rod filled treats or getting your fingers bitten while trying to prevent them from chewing said treats.
Release them back into their yard and don’t feed them for a few hours so that the rods have time set before they get their rumen moving.