If you have a goat herd on your farm-probably the case since you are reading this post- then you have most likely heard about the importance of giving copper bolus. You probably know that you should give copper to your herd, but do you know why, how, when, and how much?
Why is it important to give Copper Bolus?
Copper is an essential mineral for goats. Without it they can become sick, infested with parasites, and exhibit a plethora of other issues. Most soil in the United States contains less than 50% of the needed amount of copper. Since the soil is so lacking, copper should be supplemented in the diet and via bolus to avoid a Copper deficiency in your herd. Contact your local extension agent to have your soil tested.
What are the signs of Copper Deficiency?
Wiry Coat- This has always been the tell-tale sign in my herd. When I see a rough wiry coat on one of my goats, I know that their copper levels have dropped below where they need to be.
Hair loss- Copper deficiency can cause hair loss in goats. This occurs especially around the face and the tail head.
Fish tail- If the hair on the tip of a goat’s tail is split and resembles a fish tail, your herd needs a copper boost.
Coat color change- A lack of copper can cause dullness in your goat’s coat color. Black hair can become reddish and other colors can look bleached or washed out.
Anemia- We check our goat’s eyelids periodically because their color can tell you a lot about their health. Pull down the lower eyelid and check the color. If it is a bright pink, you should be all clear. If they are pale or white, you should determine if you are dealing with a copper deficiency, parasites, or both.
What causes Copper Deficiency?
A lack of copper in your goat herd can occur due to a deficiency in the soil and feed. This is considered a primary deficiency. Copper deficiency can also be caused by certain minerals in the water, soil, or feed that can block the absorption of the copper. This is a secondary deficiency.
How much copper should you give to your goats?
Goats need their copper, but too much can cause copper toxicity so you need to be sure that you are dosing properly.
- Goats less than 50 pounds and under 3 months of age should be given one (2 g) capsule. A single 2 g dose of UltraCruz typically lasts 8 months to 1 year.
- Goats more than 50 pounds and over 3 months of age should be given one (4 g) capsule. A single 4 g dose of UltraCruz Copper Oxide typically lasts 8 months to 1 year.
How often should you Copper Bolus Your Goats?
Slow release copper given in the correct dosage is said to last 8 months to one year. I recommend testing your soil to see how copper deficient your pasture is and test your water for minerals that could block the absorption of copper. If you are in a very deficient area, I suggest giving copper oxide every 4 to 6 months unless you notice signs of deficiency sooner.
What Copper Bolus brand should you use?
UltraCruz– This is our farm’s copper bolus brand of choice. It is already properly dosed for goats so there isn’t any unnecessary work. UltraCruz has capsules measured for adult goats as well as for goat kids.
Copasure- Copasure capsules are dosed for cattle so they require a little extra work on your part. You will have to open the capsule and measure the correct amount for each goat. The slow release may also be affected since the capsule will not remain intact.
Typical method for giving Copper Bolus
Copper bolus is typically administered to a goat via a Balling Gun. The bolus would be placed in the hollow tip of the balling gun which is then pushed to the back of the goat’s throat and deposited for the goat to swallow. This method works great, but sometimes it can be a little stressful and uncomfortable for the goats and it requires a little extra elbow grease from the farmer.
Alternative Method for Giving Copper Bolus
There is an alternative method of administering copper bolus to goats that by-passes the extra stress and discomfort. They won’t even know that you are giving them anything other than some yummy treats! All you need is some UltraCruz Copper Bolus and marshmallows or bananas.
Most of my goats love marshmallows so we use these first. Start by pushing one bolus in the middle of each marshmallow. You can also pour the copper out of the capsule into a hole poked in the marshmallow- I don’t recommend doing this if you can avoid it as it makes the copper release into the system faster than it should. Give these to your goats according to the amount they need for their body weight. *See dosing recommendations above.
Some goats won’t eat marshmallows (crazy, right?) so bananas can be used instead. Push 4-5 boluses into a banana and pinch off each one into a bite sized piece. Again, feed these to your goats according to their body weight.
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The goats were huge fans of this method and it worked out really well. They didn’t seem to chew the copper too much (which is a good thing) and they weren’t suspicious at all of our motive for giving these sweet treats.
I do have a couple of cautions for you before trying this copper bolus method out…
- Goat bites aren’t pleasant so be careful when putting the marshmallows and bananas into their mouths.
- Don’t use this method every time you administer copper as chewing the copper could possibly lessen its effect. I did notice that our goats had a chew 1-2 times and swallow whole policy so they really didn’t bite down into the capsules as much as I thought they might.
Which method do you prefer when giving copper bolus your herd?
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