Friday, January 6, 2012

A Noodleville "How To": Copper Bolusing

I read many great blogs. I sit and read blogs more often than I post on my own…


Well, because most of them provide really useful info in an entertaining format… Throw in a healthy dose of life experiences/stories and I’m a happy reader.

My blog is mostly a place where I jot down various happenings in my life, but rarely do I post actual useable info.

Not sure how this is going to go, but I’m going to attempt to sporadically post useful “How To’s” in the future. Do note that I said sporadically…this gets me & my sporadic, hectic, unscheduled self off the hook for posting specifics at particular times.

So… Today’s “How To” is going to be about copper bolusing goats. In advance, I’ll forewarn y’all that this isn’t necessarily the gospel, it’s not the ONLY way to do things and I won’t be getting overly scientific on y’all.

Copper has been linked to fertility, parasite resistance, growth, resistance to disease, & general over all health. Most minerals do not provide adequate levels of copper to meet the needs of goats. Copper bolusing is a fantastic way to give a slow release copper supplement.

Copper deficiency can show itself in numerous ways. Also, blood samples are not a reliable way to check for copper levels in goats, the best way to check copper levels is by liver biopsy…Which can be performed during a necropsy (I personally don‘t know any vets willing to do it on a live goat, but it can be done). Handy for the goat owner to get a view on how things are going with their management… Not so handy for the goat having the necropsy.

So, here are a few outward signs of copper deficiency I can show you from my own goats (do keep in mind, these are not the only signs, just sharing a few from my herd).

Sabrina came to me looking a bit rough. Her diet had been a mineral block, heavy sweet feeds (covered in molasses, which is high in iron and high iron levels inhibit copper absorption), rationed alfalfa hay, unlimited grass hay and grazing/browse. If you look at her tail tip in this picture shortly after we brought her home you can see she has a “fish tail” with a bald tail tip and the remaining tail hair resembles a fish tail. Many goats will grow this hair back after proper mineral needs are met and maintained, some won’t. Sabrina’s has filled in some, though not fully so I’m still waiting to see if hers will fill in.

Sabrina 2011. Note the coarse coat & "fish tail"
Next up is this burnt, coppery colored hair tips. No, this is NOT sun bleaching and it was also present on the dark hairs of her legs. Her previous home had loads of trees and shade was plentiful, where as here in the desolate, dry land of Noodle, trees and natural shade are sparse. For a fair comparison, I snapped pictures of her hair almost exactly one year apart so you can look at the difference and can compare winter hair to winter hair (In her before pics which were taken January 2011, she was pregnant & due in 2 months, in her after pics, taken January 2012, she only has 21 days left before her due date). Here we have minimal shade and if anything she spent MORE time in the sun than at her previous home, yet there are no burnt colored hair tips now. Her bald tail tip has filled in some as well, though not fully. The texture of the hair is also greatly improved. A year ago it was course and brittle, now it’s soft and has a healthy shine to it.

Before Copper. January 2011 Brittle, coarse hair. Discoloration affected all dark hairs

After Copper. January 2012. Hair has no discoloration, it's sleek, smooth (and covered in hay bits)
I didn’t think about it at the time, but I should have taken pictures of her feet. Good grief they were awful!! Her previous home kept her feet trimmed every 2 months, but the overall condition of the hoof material was very poor..... Now her feet are pretty normal and don't require as much effort to trim properly, nor do they have the tendency to grow misshapen as they did when she first arrived..
Another sign of copper deficiency is a fading out of the coat, or what some folks call "ghosting". Bleuberry shows deficiency this way. She has no noticeable "fish tail" or burnt hair tips. I can't give you pictures of her as I shaved her down and don't have the "before" pics to share.... Just keep in mind, that even within one herd, animals can display deficiencies differently.

To make a copper bolus I rely on the info provided by Joyce Lazzaro at Saanendoah. Her site will give you all the scientific, technical info on her copper studies (plus show you the other signs of copper deficiency not shown here). Fantastic read, great pictures and any goat owner really should take the time to read her information.

First you’ll need to buy a bottle of Copasure. I buy mine from Jeffer’s Livestock. These are copper boluses made up for cattle so you’ll need to break them down into smaller doses for goats. The $40+ may seem steep, but a little goes a long way so this should last you quite a while. I'll have to double check, but we bolused my mom's 3 miniature does, my 2 Lamanchas, and the 2 Alpine does & I think we used 3-4 of the boluses total and we typically bolus every 4 months.

Copasure & a calf sized bolus

 Using a postal scale, you weigh out the appropriate dose of copper needed for your goat. Repackage the rods into smaller gel capsules. I place the lil' foam pad from the Copasure container on my scale, zero it out, then pour on the copper rods.
Copper Oxide rods inide a bolus

I buy the smaller gel capsules at the health food store, but recently noticed Jeffer's is now carrying them, as are several other online vendors. You can buy a variety of sizes but I personally prefer to package all my boluses in one size gel capsule & fill accordingly. I dose according to the data collected by Joyce Lazzaro which is 1 gram per 22lbs.

Next is the tricky part.

Ok, ok, I confess… I seem to be the only bolusing challenged person in the whole world!!!!!!!
I was instructed to use the smallest baling gun. I tried that. I got chomped up, spit out boluses. I found it too long, bulky, and thought it did a very poor job of holding the smaller bolus (even with peanut butter!). The goal here is to get the entire bolus swallowed WHOLE. Which means, using the baling gun, you hold open the mouth, put the baling gun as far back as possible…. I’m not talking just in the mouth. I mean over the back of the tongue and into the throat. Once in position you push the plunger and shoot the bolus, whole, down their throat.

I saw videos. I had helpful folks walk me through the process and give me 10,000 pointers. Yet, while all my goaty friends were swiftly, happily bolusing their goats, I was not. I tried empty horse dewormer tubes… Still a no go. I gave up, and went for an alternative method. Hiding the rods in treats. Sabrina would swallow an orange slice with a bolus in it with no problem. My miniature doe liked marshmallows. The rest? Not so much…they spit, chomped and basically did whatever possible to thwart me with every treat imaginable.

Sadistic lil critters!

Then I found my life saver in the form of a $3 piece of plastic. 

"Quick & Easy Pill Dispenser" with 2 goat sized boluses inside
This pill gun known as "The Quick & Easy Pill Dispenser" freaking rocks!!!!!

Granted, it’s not as long as a baling gun, so I have to hold their mouth open wide and get it back there but that’s no biggey. This lil pill gun can hold 2 goat sized boluses at once and fits easily in my hand. 

Pill dispenser with loaded with 2 goat boluses
Follow up with a treat while saying “Nummy, Nummy” and you’re all done! To ensure your pill gun is longer lived, I highly recommend wrapping the barrel in several layers of duct tape or electrical tape, otherwise goat teeth will damage it after several uses.
I say “Nummy, Nummy” in a "sing-song" voice while giving all oral meds to goats & children. I think it helps the process, my kids contradict me.

Now, a few things to keep in mind. In the front, goats only have bottom teeth, no top teeth, instead on top they have a hard “dental pad“. However, in the back they have both top and bottom teeth that are SHARP! Your dog’s molars have nothing on the molars of a goat and I promise you, you do not want to get your fingers caught!

Here is a handy picture showing you the anatomy of a goat’s mouth. You can see the lower incisors in the front, the gap, then the razor sharp molars in the back.

When bolusing, I straddle the goat, grab from the top and hold firmly in that toothless gap, careful to keep my fingers away from the chomping molars. Tilt the head back, push pill gun up over the tongue and as far back as I can get it, then push the plunger, close their mouth and shove a treat in!! With Bleuberry, I'm not tall enough to straddle her, so I lock her in the milkstand to bolus her. Easy Peasy! So easy in fact, that Clayton, my 8 year old, bolused Casper without a single problem….No spit out boluses, no chomped boluses, and no missing fingers.

Now, there is some debate on whether or not bolusing via treats is as reliable as the traditional baling gun (or pet pill gun) method, I‘m not getting into all that here. I did the treat method out of desperation, but in all honesty, I prefer the pill gun and giving full, un-chewed boluses. That way I KNOW without a doubt that they received their full dose.

Here is a nifty lil diagram illustrating how the bolus actually works:

How the bolus works. Photo courtesy of Joyce Lazzaro by way of Animax Vet
Now, do keep in mind that copper is just one part in the mineral equation. Depending on your area you may have other deficiencies to worry about. For my area, and my herd, I have best results copper bolusing every 3-4 months, and I also give Bo-Se which is an injectable Vitamin E/Selenium that you can obtain with a vet RX. In addition to this I feed a high quality LOOSE mineral.

Emphasis on LOOSE mineral, as in bagged and similar to coarse sand in texture. Yes, there are mineral blocks available, but have you ever been licked by a goat? If not, come over and I’ll set Sabrina on ya.

Goats have very smooth tongues like a dog does which make it a bit more difficult to get all they need simply by licking at the block. Mineral blocks are typically full of cheap salts, so the goat needs to consume more of the block in order to meet it’s mineral needs. Problem is, the goat is attracted to the mineral block because of the salt and they typically get their fill of salt before they've come close to consuming the necessary amount of minerals. So all in all, while it’s a convenient concept, to me, a mineral block is worthless.

There are a variety of loose minerals on the market. Steer clear of “Sheep & Goat” minerals. Copper in high amounts is toxic to sheep, while studies have shown that goats need a good bit of it, so a mineral safe for sheep just isn't going to come close to meeting a goat’s copper needs. I prefer to buy dark, loose minerals…grey, brownish, earthy-toned ones. The red ones usually contain higher levels of iron and iron inhibits copper absorption. Add in that many of the red minerals have iffy amounts and sources of copper to begin with and it’s just not worth the money. My all time favorite mineral is Bluebonnet Techmaster Complete. Smells sooooo good, and has added kelp, yeast & probiotics.

Sadly, Techmaster is not available in all areas. Used it for many years before my local dealer closed up shop, so for a few years I used Cargill Right Now Onyx, a cattle mineral, and the goats did well on it. 

My loose mineral of choice. A 50lb bag last FOREVER.

To be truly scientific I have even tried a few for comparison.... And yes, by "tried", I mean I went on a taste testing spree.

I licked a mineral block, a salt block and tried a pinch of  both the Techmaster & the Cargill Right Now Onyx loose minerals. Salt block obviously was the saltiest. That mineral block was almost as salty as the pure salt block, with a hint of earthy undertones and my loose minerals were kinda gross (or should I say "very earthly"?)… I could taste a SLIGHT saltiness, but it was barely there… So given that controlled, uber scientific experiment, I have proven that my loose mineral of choice isn't chock full of cheap, filler salts.

True, I also read the labels as well, but the taste testing, IMO, made the whole thing more legit.

Also, a side note… Copper boluses are made of copper OXIDE. I see some folks grabbing bottles of copper SULFATE and just pouring who knows how much into their water troughs, and some who even have fed it via syringe. Do keep in mind that there is such a thing as “Too much of a good thing”. The copper OXIDE rods in the bolus dissolve slowly over a period of MONTHS in the digestive tract of the goat and when used properly, pose no risk of copper toxicity. The copper sulfate CAN be toxic and it is not a gradual release form of copper supplementation....

Anywho, just look how pretty Sabrina is now!

No coarse hair, no coat discoloration, no more hoof issues
Before her diet was heavily processed sweet feed in huge amounts (4 1/2+lbs of 16% sticky sweet feed per day), browse, a flake of alfalfa hay, mineral block and grass hay free choice. Here we switched it up a bit.

She now gets 17% protein, Standlee alfalfa pellets, good quality coastal & sudan hay, LOOSE minerals and her grain ration is a 12% protein mix of 2 parts whole oats, 1 part Purina Strategy Healthy Edge horse feed (lower protein, high forage content high fat/calcium feed) top dressed with black oil sunflower seeds or rice bran pellets…..When milking she consumes no more than 3lbs of grain per day (usually 1lb each milking) and last lactation she milked 14lbs at 2 weeks fresh. Plus she maintains great condition. So, in summary, she actually looks better on LESS feed.

The diet is made up of quality forage (alfalfa & hay), proper minerals and minimal grains. I find many folks will buy the poorest quality hay for goats, when in fact, I find my money better spent when I choose the best quality I can afford. Making the bulk of my herd’s diet alfalfa and quality hay enables me to have better production, better condition on a lot less of the concentrates (grain/pelleted rations) Not to mention the overall health of the herd is much, much better. Good forages make for a happy, healthy rumen. Proper minerals improve the overall health.

Sabrina's pregnant belly January 2012. Such a huge difference in overall condition when compared to last year. Kids due January 26th.
Many people think I’m nuts…after all they are “Just goats, they can eat anything” but the proof is in the pudding my friends! Which, BTW, not a clue how this got started, but goats do NOT eat anything, nor should it be considered ok to feed them food stuffs unsuitable for other livestock. They are actually picky eaters, preferring browse to grazing and if you watch them at the hay feeder they are constantly picking through it to find the best bite (which is why I feed alfalfa pellets.. They pick through the alfalfa hay, eat the leaves and waste a ton of stems..No waste with my alfalfa pellets). A horse will consume hay spilled on the ground and walked on, a goat won't unless that's the only thing available....

Anywho....usually the folks who think I'm nuts and advise me to use outdated methods of poor grass hay, lots of heavy sweet feeds and inadequate minerals are those with scraggly looking goats and they are the ones losing does to hypocalcemia every kidding season.

No scraggly looking goats here, and my does receive enough calcium from their alfalfa that I’ve had no losses & no hypocalcemia. Providing proper minerals i.e- copper, has also allowed me to deworm less frequently as well.....

Of course, each person has their own methods. I didn’t invent this stuff folks. I’m blessed to be advised by those who have decades of first hand experience and have been willing to help me out. In turn, I’ve tweaked things to suit my herd’s needs and my budget and all in all, I’m a happy goat owner with healthy goats.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. If you have goats, I strongly urge you to read Joyce Lazzaro's Copper Studies (think I've linked to it enough in this post? lol)..
There are some interesting pictures of animals suffering from extreme copper deficiency as well as more in depth info than the brief review I provided.

Good stuff!


petey said...

That is a VERY nifty little pill gun! I gagged mine, pushing the pill gun I have for calves somewhere about half way to their tail. One goat had been looking so-so, the other was thin and haggard looking, both were fish tailed with bad coats. Now its mid winter, they are ridiculously fat, shiny and look better than they did all summer! Great blog! I'm getting one of those pill-ers.

Anonymous said...

Very informative, still wish you were closer to me so that I could have a live demo.
Thanks again

hoosier girl said...

Ok, where did you get the nifty pill gun?
And how did you work up the nerve to taste the minerals? Yuck-that's true dedication!

* Crystal * said...

Thanks y'all! :)

Mpete- Aren't the results from the copper just awesome!! Even with no grazing or browse (drought) & sometimes nothing but so-so quality hay, my girls all look great :)

Hoosier- If you click on the text "This pill gun freaking rocks!!" in orange, it's a link to the pill gun at Jeffers.... All the orange words in my post are links to something :)

As to the minerals.... lol Curiosity got the best of me, wanted to see what the goats made such a fuss about. :)

Rebecca said...

This is great. Thank you so much..I will be ordering one of those right away. We have fought coccidia in the past and have tried sulfa boluses but I nearly lost my fingers in the process. thank again.

* Crystal * said...

Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for stopping by & commenting :) Those teeth are crazy scary when you're faced with having to get up close & personal!

The pill gun made it easier by far.

For coccidia have you tried Sulfadimethoxine? Also sold under Di-Methox, Albon & a few other names. I prefer to use the 40% injectable which is dosed at 1cc per 5lbs, given ORALLY for 5 days in a row to *treat* coccidia. If you have to use the 12.5% solution it's 3.2cc per 5lbs.

For prevention I use liquid Corid every 21 days in kids & if I get coccidia (usually only in purchased kids) I use the Sulfadimethoxine.

I've never tried the Albon boluses. Do you break them down to smaller sizes for goats? Other than almost loosing your fingers, have you found the bolus to be sucessful in treating coccidia?

Anonymous said...

Uh hate to brake it to u but copper is poison to goats and sheeps.

Anonymous said...

To the last anonymous poster; Even vets know the benefits to copper bolusing when correct dosages are given at the right intervals, as well as WSU veterianarian clinic. So maybe instead of making comments against otherwise proven scientifically sound methods a person should make attempts to gain knowledge that will help a herd be healthier.

* Crystal * said...

Anonymous #1:

Thanks for stopping by. The purpose of this post was to educate. If you would, please reread my post & take the time to click on the link to Joyce Lazzaro's study.

The domestic goat is "Capra aegagrus hircus". The domestic sheep is "Ovis Aries". In other words, they are completely different species with different habits & nutritional needs. So while copper in high amounts can be toxic to sheep, that is not the case with goats.

BTW- When referring to multiple sheep, you use "sheep" & not "sheepS". ;)

Anonymous #2- Spot on! Thanks for commenting!

Hearthspun - Sandie said...

copper is a needed mineral in all animals and that includes sheep - though they do not need as much as a goat. the difference in them is the goats don't store extra copper they get from feeds or mineral supplements in their systems, sheep do store extra copper , which can lead to toxicity. sorry pet peeve of mine, sheep do need copper just not as much.

Anonymous said...

Slow release forms of copper like this, when administered properly and after determining overall copper intake from other sources are NOT poisonous to sheep, per many field trials in the US and Australia/New Zealand.

Goats, of course, have a drastically higher copper requirement than sheep. It's very hard to overdose goats with COWP... the lethal threshold for goats is something like 8-10x the recommended dose.

* Crystal * said...

Thanks Sandie & Anonymous. I was aware sheep DID require some copper, though I am not aware of how much, or the best way to supply it. I also did not know that sheep stored copper in such a way, learn something new every day :) My sheep expirence is limited to those that lived in the Ag barn while I was in FFA, so to say my knowledge on them is limited, is an understatement ;)

Anonymous said...

I have raises bore and spanish goats for over 15 years. I have top quality animals without doing babying crap like this. I dont believe copper is safe to give my goats just becauae of a blog. Im sure I've had goats longer than u have. No disrespect meant. O I also use mineral blocks and the goats are fine so I dont see how u can say they are useless.
You also need to watch ur nanny closely. I know she is pregnant, but u keep ur goats too fat. I will loose my does soon after they give birth if they are to fat like that. I think u mean well, just trying to give u advice of wisdom gained over years of keeping many goats.

Anonymous said...

You don't believe copper is safe because of a blog, well of course not. However, the blog is linking to scientific information that does show copper bolusing is not only safe, but beneficial. That's what you are supposed to read.

In five years, I have never lost a doe after kidding. I have had goats fatter than that kid (easy keepers).

Unless you mean her belly... Surely an experienced person like yourself isn't saying she is fat because her belly is big...

* Crystal * said...

Alan, hi there. Of course I wouldn't expect ANYONE to base their care strictly based on a random blog. That is why I linked to Joyce's SCIENTIFIC STUDY multiple times.

Everyone has variations in their management, no one does everything the same. That is ok, if you are happy with your goats, keep on a-trucking, though your comment of does you've lost is cause for concern IMO. If your losing animals on a regular basis, it would be a good time to review your management & see if there is anything you can do to prevent that.

In regards to my doe, yes, she is pregnant, but no where near fat! In fact, I'd be over the moon happy if she were carrying a bit MORE fat. I like my does well conditioned so once in milk, they have some reserves & don't look skeletal. Sabrina is a heavy producer & will milk herself down to nothing, so I must make sure she stays in good condition.

You raise your BOERS the way you want, and I'll raise my fat dairy girls my way. To each their own.

* Crystal * said...

Alan- Out of curiosity, why do you believe your does died after kidding from being too fat? What were their symptoms before death? Did you have a vet out?

Anonymous said...

Crystal I know the extra weight led to my fat girls deaths. A few died in labor, concrations just stopped, to much weight on the body. The ones who died after having there babies stopped eating there food. Some would take small bites of hay, but none would eat there grain. Then they laid down & were to fat to get up again. I think them being to big to get up kept them from moving around like they need to and they got to cold.
This has only happened to a few girls every couple years and only to the fatter ones.
Thank u for ur concern, but that doesnt have anything to do with copper. I agree we all do things different and I just wanted u to be careful with ur goats since u like them so much.

Cindy P. said...

Excellent blog, Crystal! Love that pill gun. I have one similar. Easier for me to use as I have small hands.

I guess some of the people that commented didn't take the time to actually read the links you posted, eh?

And about your pregnant doe (doe NOT nanny!), I agree, she looks great, but I'd want a little more fat on her, too. Why would someone think that that big belly is fat?

Great blog post, thanks!!!

* Crystal * said...

Hi Cindy!!

Sadly, despite the many times I linked to it, I don't think many are actually clicking the link & reading it.... And here I thought I may have gone overboard linking to the copper study...perhaps I didn't link to it enough! ;)

Sabrina looks ok, certainly better than last year when I brought her home, but she's not in ideal condition. This awful, drought stricken summer was hard on all the goats, but especially Sabrina because she just kept on milking right along. Started adding beet pulp shreds & rice bran pellets in addition to normal feed....helped bring her back from skeletal, but I wish she had a lil more fat over her ribs. Dried her up slowly, while leaving her feed the same & that helped too... Now that I know what to expect from her, I'll hopefully be able to maintain her condition once in milk.

And yes, I LOVE that pill gun! :)

Brazy Creek Farm (Brad and Susy) said...

LOVE this post! Thanks so much for the info. How long did it take before you saw an actual difference in the coat and overall health of Sabrina?

amigo2be said...

As mentioned above, I too would like to see abit more flesh on said doe but not much, she is heavy bred, not to be mistaken for fat. Dairy breeds should hold a certain amount of fleshing for reserve after kidding. Yes...does that are truly fat will stop contracting, however that is why one should always have a back up of Oxytocin available during kidding season. Only one such incident here from a "fat" doe but we did not lose her and even had to let her milk off her fat before giving too much grain. Not that she did not recieve grain but less.
Also, not to be insulting but, just because one way works for others for years does not mean that those of us who choose to raise our animals on teachings that come from well organized and scientifically proven methods of raising dairy goats, who have healthy herds with low worm counts, and very very few loses, I would say that maybe we have an upper edge in the field of rearing and offerring animals that will not crash on anothers farm.
Loose minerals are formulated to have the approxiamate amount of minerals for goats. Most of this is chelated forms and uses a lot less salt (sodium). A goat has to lick and lick and lick and lick to get the amount of minerals from a block rather than just go over and nib up some yummy minerals. A seen improvement in our herd from overall adjustments in management as Crystal has so nicely laid before us.
Thank you Crystal for your hard work and efforts in such a blog with wonderful links.
I am going to get that pill gun!

Leigh said...

Crystal, what a fantastic post! I'm linking to it on my sidebar (animal links). You answered my question about how often to bolus. What a difference I've seen with my girls thanks to copper.

Carol said...

Very good post Crystal, hopefully some will learn from it, obviously some won't. Copper makes a huge difference.

* Crystal * said...

Hi Brazy Creek- Thanks for stopping by! Copper isn't a miracle, it does take time. The first noticeable difference was about 3 weeks in & her hoof condition was noticeably improved when compared to her previous trimming. I bolused her in January 2011, & again at the begining of May 2011 & after that her, tail tip started filling in & her coat had drastically improved. Fecal samples also showed much lower numbers as well.

Amigo- I love ya! :)

Thanks so much Leigh! I'm happy it's made a difference for your herd. BTW, I'm in love with your new stove!!!!

Thanks Carol. If it helps, thats awesome, if others choose not to soak up new info, well I'm not going to try to force them.

Anonymous said...

So, let me ask this since it hasn't been asked:

Did you buy a mineral block & salt block to taste, or did you just lick on the ones in the store??

Inquiring minds must know!


Anonymous said...

Look I been reading ur blog since ur tazer story that my face book friend sent me. U seem like a nice girl and I kno u like ur goats. they are ur pets. But when u been doing this as long as me, running a large herd of 20 to 30 animals u learn how to sort out the babying crap from the needed stuff.
For u with pet goats it isnt hard to do extra stuff like loose minerals and this bolosing that I think is dangerous.
But when ur a serious producer you cant baby the animals and you dont need to add things that arent needed. Yes I do loose some females but that is nature not because of a mineral block and definitaly not because I dont use copper.
My wife reads ur blog to and wants dairy goats. Her goats will be raised just like the bore and spanish and I bet ya theyll do just fine. I know u tried to help with ur blog and share the new cool thing but if u ever go big with ur herd you will look back at this and know im right. Just tryin to help u.

Ranger said...

Hi Crystal. Just a note to Alan-- I've had goats, meat and dairy, for well over 20 years. I also raised sheep. My meat goat herd had an adverage of 100 adults plus the kids, and the sheep flock was about 75 adults plus lambs. They have all been kept fat and sassy, and the only ones that I lost while having babies was from problems birthing. It had NOTHING to do with their being fat. I feel sorry for any animal that is unfortunate enough to belong to you.

DostThouHaveMilk said...

Hello Alan,
While I have been in goats maybe a year less than yourself (we've had goats since 1997 and have kidded out does for all but two of those years), we do run a larger herd that is more commercial than anything at this stage. We run a herd of 100+ mature stock, so with kids you are looking at close to 250+ head. About half are dairy goats and the other half are Boer goats (mostly Boer/dairy).
Back in early 2007, we were seeing signs of severe copper deficiency in our herd (at that point we were only kidding out around 30 head, nowadays we are up to 70+). Mostly in a doe we brought in and was new to our management. We switched from a block mineral to a loose goat mineral and started copper bolusing. The change in the health of the goats was drastic and very welcomed. I copper bolus over 100 head of goats twice a year at the minimum. It is a bit of extra work, but not that much. Simpler than worming them in a lot of ways since it is the handled mature stock that gets bolused. We run three main pens of goats (and have some smaller outlying pens). I can work a pen of around 50 head in about an hour and a half. Depending on how much help I have to catch the goats. Out of those 50 maybe 6 or 8 will take more than one shot to get the bolus down.
Copper bolusing is being encouraged to help reduce worm loads as well. A goat with a proper mineral balance has an overall healthier immune system.
It is a fairly simple thing that can make a world of difference. Reading the information on Joyce's site is important. One needs to understand the whys before they jump in.
If your wife goes the route of dairy does (and they can be quite endearing and useful) keep a close eye on them if they are run with the Boers and Spanish. Dairy does require a little bit more in the way of feed do to the way their bodies act. Same differences between a dairy cow and a beef cow. The dairy animal's body is designed to put the feed towards reproduction (milking, gestation, etc) before their body, while the meat animal's body is designed to put the feed to maintaining their body before reproduction. If the doe is being put on a stand to be milked, then the concern can be dealt with in that manner since she will get extra feed.
Our dairy does raise kids and we milk the ones we want to. They herds run together on the 80 acres and in the pens.
The saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." is all well and good, but that doesn't mean you should automatically dismiss something new if it appears to be making a difference for other people.

Anonymous said...

@Alan. What ridiculous rubbish. I know, personally, large dairy herds, not your 20-30 head operations, but ones of 200-1,000 animals where the owners not only bolus now, but who also participated in the original studies 30-40 years ago for copper oxide wire particles that demonstrate their effectiveness. Not "as long as me", but much longer. It's great that you have something that works for you with minimal losses. Their herds, without exception, have zero losses for 3-5 years at a time. This is because they practice science-driven practices, which include making smart management decisions, such as using copper oxide wire particles.

It's not acceptable ethically that that you consider your animals as just that, animals, to be disposed of as you see fit, and who may die due to "nature" (in reality your mismanagement and cheapness). If you were less ignorant, you would not lose your does.

Good Goats said...

Great blog post, Crystal!!

Alan - while I may not have had goats for as many years as you, my family has been raising dairy goats for nearly 10 years and we run a herd of about 75 DAIRY goats. All these goats are copper bolused, and individually treated. They are not just left to fend for themselves. Whether I have 5 goats or 75 goats, they all get the individual care they need and I think it is ridiculous when people do not treat them right.

A.D. Trosper said...

An excellent post Crystal.

To those of you that that think you are doing just fine even though you have goats dying, well you keep doing what you're doing if your losses are acceptable to you.

For those of us who wish to actually know our goats(including the fact that Boer is spelled B-O-E-R and that the word bore is not the name of the goat you raise)and what they need,we feel that no losses are acceptable. There are many herds who have been practicing this type of herd management for many years, even on large herds. Anyone new to goats would do well to take advice from people who don't routinely lose goats.

* Crystal * said...

Thanks to everyone who has commented :) It's nice to see those with large & small herds have used copper bolusing with such sucess. Many thanks to Joyce Lazarro & all of her hard work.

Alan, hon, I tried typing a response to you many times & had to stop myself. Many of the commentors have covered a lot of what I wanted to say... So instead I'll offer you my sympathies... I'm sorry to see that you won't even consider possibilities outside of your methods simply because "I've always done it this way". A closed mind, unwilling or unable to gain new knowledge is sad. Also, if I were you, I'd look into hypocalcemia & ketosis as cause for some of your doe losses.

I'm open to ideas, even those that don't match my own. I leave comments on this blog, even if I don't agree with them, but I will not tolerate profanity & I've deleted a few of your responses.

Anywho.....Bethany, in regards to whether or not I licked minerals in the store..... I'll never tell! ;)

Sue B. said...

Great job on your blog, it helps to see the pictures, you are spot on with all the information as I have seen it first hand with my own dairy goats. Sue

Caliann said...

Alan, there are still many folks in my area who basically throw out a horse/cattle mineral block, an automatic waterer, throw in hay if the pasture isn't great, and then leave their Boers or Spanish goats to fend for themselves.

These people get losses. They are also subject to more kid death from floppy kid syndrome and white muscle disease. If that is acceptable to you, with your average of 25 goats, oh well. I won't be buying from you.

The SERIOUS people, those who make their LIVING, fully and completely, from their goats have learned the lesson: each loss is money out of their pockets. Each doe that doesn't cycle is lost money.

These people, for decades now, have supported scientific programs to figure out how goats tick and what they need. Programs coming out of Texas A&M and The International Dairy Goat Research Center (whose culls I happily buy up, because they are better than most people's show stock).

Copper boluses work. Not only for the overall health of the animal, but right down in the pocketbook, where it counts. A goat that has PROPER mineral balance has easier heat cycles, often throws triplets (Heck, last year, it was quads and quints for a lot of us!), has easier births and a LOT fewer losses. Since I started with a healthy mineral program 5 years ago, I have had 0, count them ZERO losses of either kids or matter HOW fat some of them might get.

It simply works. You want to cut your losses on a commercial herd, either of dairy or meat, increase overall production and nearly double your sale-able kids? You get with the program and read up on proper mineral balance and apply it to your herd.

Proper minerals are more important to herd maintenance than proper feed. You can be feeding your goats Honor Show Goat (at THOSE prices) every day, and it won't do them any good if they don't have the proper minerals to turn that feed into what puts money in your pocket. On the flip side, goats with proper mineral balances can get rotund on hay cut off of median strips.

Alan, start listening. You wouldn't take your brand new truck for a tune up to a mechanic that hasn't ever touched anything newer than a 1977 Nova... because he wouldn't know how to deal with the sensors, ECM, or even the fuel injection. Likewise, the management practices of decades ago are not suitable for today's high production breeds. (Which includes Boers) If you want the most out of your goats, you have to *learn*.

In Peace,

And a P.S. for Crystal: Yeah, this drought have been bad. I wish a couple of my girls were carrying a bit more weight. Not as much of a problem with my mature does, but those from last kidding season won't be of weight to breed until spring I think. Oh well, next year, I'll have winter milk and summer meat.:)

Rebecca said...

Wow, Crystal, did you stir up a hornets nest or what? This is my first time on your blog so maybe you are used to this. Anyway, I am the poor dairy goat farmer in West Virginia who has been fighting the coccidia. Yes, I do use the 40% di-methox with good results. But I would like to never see coccidia again. In the book "Natural Goat Care" she says if you can get the copper levels up, the coccidia won't rear their ugly heads (my words, not hers) So I think this method is great. In her book, I might add and this time I quote "Goats were given what should have been lethal amouts of copper and THRIVED" So there....all I gotta say.

* Crystal * said...

Thank you Sue, & very happy you've also had great results with copper. :)

Spot on Caliann, as always ;)

Hi Rebecca! No, this much attention on my blog is NOT the norm, lol. Only other post I've done thats caused such a stir was my "Hypocrisy of Food" blog. Most times things are pretty peaceful & quiet here.

I've not read that book, but I'm going to hunt it up! :) Sorry your having coccidia issues. So far, I've been lucky in that department. I had two purchased bottle kids with coccidia & treated with 5 day rounds of Sulfadimethoxine, & repeated with Corid every 21 days until 5 months old. Now if I buy bottle babies, I just start them off on the sulfadimethoxine as a precaution. Babies born here start the 5 day Corid rounds at 3 weeks old & repeat every 21 days.

I hope your able get a handle on everything, good luck! :)

Michelle said...

Fantastic blog Crystal! I actually began copper blousing to help with worm infestations. Clearly anyone critical of your blog post hasn't done their homework. I have Boers and Saanens and have noticed a tremendous difference in coat and condition. Frankly the expense of the Copasure has saved me tons in wormers and treating sick animals. And I agree about your doe. If he thinks that is a fat doe I hate to see what Alan's Boers look like...yikes! Beautiful animal and I'll be checking back for pics of her kids!

Sue Weaver said...

Fantastic blog entry! I've copied it to add to my goat files.

Well done. :o)

lazydaisy67 said...

Really great blog! Thank you so much for going into those details that I was too afraid to ask anybody about due to the "I don't want to look dumb" factor. Wonderful to see people who are trying to leave outdated goat keeping methods and ideas behind and do thing BETTER! Goats are healthier because of people who are willing to learn. Keep up the good work!

Tin Mom said...

Thanks, Crystal. Got my pill gun and my boluses - tomorrow is the day....

Unknown said...

Thanks for the awesome info! I save goats from being eaten (I'm Vegetarian) and so I have quite a motley crew of breeds. I had to learn their care from scratch and I have save quite a few from horrid conditions :) I know they need copper, and unlike Alan, I think goats deserve to be pampered especially those who will be mommies. It sounds like his goats had other problems that caused their deaths - your goat looks spot on :) she does NOT look fat!! I have had girls who looked like they swallowed an entire hay bale and when they had their babies, were skinny - it was all baby! Your blog is very interesting, I am working on my own as I am going to be homesteading! Good luck with your goats :)

Tracy said...

Hi crystal I love the info I have been doing some research on my own and this came just in time. I too have a blog and have a page dedicated to goat health and management. I'm currently working on another page concerning goat parasites. I love to study and help educate others. You hit the nail right on the head when you said no farmers do things exactly the same way. If everyone does not agree we definitely don't have do fight over it. Great info and if you don't mind ill be sharing some info.
Sue weaver I love alot of your articles in hobby farm magazine if this is the same sue weaver

Tracy said...

I'm sorry I forgot to leave my blog address it is

Tracy said...

Girl you really need a subscribe button on your blog, I love this.
I woke up at 3 am this morning and had another thought concerning Alans goats and management. I do agree he needs to step up his program a little and do more research as to why he is loosing so many, it could be something that is easily preventable and help with not loosing profits.
My next point is, we raise alot of our goats for milk purposes and to give us kids. Our goats have a longer life span on our farm because they are not meant for the supper table which means we do tend to spoil ours more and they become pets. This is our hobby, passion and enjoyment we do get emotionally attached, well I do anyway. Ive brought life into this world and I have put it back into the dust and cried everytime. Yes mine do get babied because I appreciate what they give me in return. They earn their keep and they are trusting me to take care of them, they depend on me. Just look into their eyes sometimes and youll see.
However in ALans case, he raises his for meat (boer is meat goats) he cannot afford to get emotionally attached because they want be living a long life on the farm they are meant for the table.
If I raised meat goats I would have to restrain myself from getting attached and that is hard to do because I love animals.I would have to tell myself their not going to be here long so dont you dare get attached. Just like when I have bucks born, I know I cant keep all them so I try not to get attached because I know I will be finding them good homes. But even though I do not get so attached that does not mean I dont take the best care of them as I can.
This was just my thoughts.
We can all agree to disagree and definately do not have to condemn anyone for their practices or argue about it unless they were just cruel to them and not even trying.

* Crystal * said...

Sierra- Thanks for stopping by! :) That's awesome that you take in those goats and rehab them :)

Tracy- Thanks for commenting! As to the subscribe button, next time I'm on my computer I'll look into it.... I'm on my cell 99.9% of the time for internet so I sometimes don't see the same screen other folks do.... I do know there is a "Follow" button above my Followers on the right side of the screen & there should be a subscribe button on individual post when you go to comment (or there was....Blogger changed things up & I'm still a lil lost)...

As to folks with ideals that match Alan's, I say "To each their own" ;) I manage my herd in a way that works for me..... Most of my goats are pets who provide milk for us, but I also raise up the occasional dairy buck for the freezer.... My opinion is no matter their purpose - meat, milk or pet, I come out better financially if I meet their mineral requirements.... My kids grow faster, my girls milk better, they are healthier, less parasite issues and I'm not having to constantly fix something due to them not being in optimal condition.

Thanks for sharing your blog, will head that way to go check it out! :)

Tracy said...

When I published my goat pages on my blog that's what I told everyone. No two farmers r un their herds the same way. My friend down the road and I do not do the same thing and that's OK we respect each others viewpoints. But as far as taking care of our herd our cares are the same....we try to do our best for them. I'm really going to incorporate bolusing in my program.

Black said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
* Crystal * said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I don't completely agree with Alan, but many dairy breeders do need to take a lesson from the large commercial meat operations. If you look at your herd you may find you are spending 80% of your time and money on small number of high demand animals. I have seen it myself (over 100 dairy goats).

That said, I do agree that increased mineral supplementation makes a HUGE difference in preventing losses and increased vitality in the kids. Our hay fields are depleted of minerals and just feed alone just can not provide what our high producing animals need. Even though based on necropsy results my herd was not technically "deficient" I added Multi-min injections twice a year (copper/zinc/selenium/manganese). With this one change I saw a significant reduction in kidding complications/losses, and the kids were the most active and vital I had ever had! I went from 7-10% mortality in my kids (100+ each year, all being bottle raised) to 2. not 2%, just 2 kids lost!

Alan may find his level of complications and losses acceptable, I thought mine were. But I'm glad I too the extra management step to increase supplementation.

flower75 said...

Thank you, I am picking up my first pair of goats May11,2013, this was very informative.

Linda said...

I just found your blog and your post... I have for some time used copper sulfate for my goats, but just before I found your blog, I had decided to switch to bolus for my goats and has just ordered some from Valley Vet... I wish I had found this post earlier! This is really a great post... thank you!

* Crystal * said...

Thanks for stopping by y'all and I'm hapot to know you found the post useful :)

Best of luck Flower with your new goaties!

Good luck Linda, the bolusing has done wonders in my herd & I'm very thankful for all the work Joyce did on her in depth copper studies :)

IdahoSaanens said...

The easiest way I give pills (zinc to the boys, cause they dump their minerals all the time) and copper boluses is to hide them in banana pieces. I cut a banana into four or five pieces, put a pill in the middle, feed a piece and then give another piece almost immediately. Done and gone quickly. Takes no time to do my herd of 30+....weighing them takes the longest.

I do NOT consider giving minerals, including copper, as babying my herd. It's business to me as I have my Idaho State Permit to sell unpasteurized (REAL) milk. My animals have to be healthy. The Boers are bred to Saanens to produce a faster growing, meaty kid and if the dams are on minerals and copper, those kids grow faster and are healthy, which puts $$$ in my pocket.

I would be concerned with Alan's wife's dairy herd. He's comparing apples to oranges. A dairy goat is vastly different to a meat breed...different feed & mineral requirements are required. Even my old cowboy husband, who started us in goats, was willing to read and learn all he could about his dairy girls.

* Crystal * said...

Thanks for stopping by & commenting Laura! :) I too have hidden boluses in fruit, though mine have a love for oranges instead of bananas ;) I have a few non orange lovers out there I'll have to offer them a bit of banana today and see if that will be a good future hiding place for boluses ;) Thanks for the idea :)

Harith said...


Thank you for your valued Blog

how many kids you get from each goat a year ?

what is their scientific name for them.

I like your goats!

* Crystal * said...

Hi Harith! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment, really appreciate it.

Goats are Caprines :) On average I typically get twins or triplets from each doe once a year....Sometimes we get quad too, but twins & triplets are the norm :)

Thanks for the compliment on my beloved goats, really appreciate it :)

Amanda said...

We started the copper bolus on our 5 goats 6 weeks ago during a battle with worms that we were not winning. We had already lost 2 goats and the goats coats were changing colors. When we investigated why the goats coats were changing colors we discovered this world of copper. We were not sure how much to administer because of conflicting articles on line so we gave each goat 2 grams not wanting to over dose, except the buck who received 4 grams (since he was turning white we thought he might need more).
The 5 goats there was:
1 healthy doe slight anemia
1 thin doe, anemic, ill,
1 thin buck who was ill, anemic, and coat turning white,
1 black buckling who was ill, and coat was turning red,
1 buckling who was ill and anemic

Today 6 weeks later the bucklings are healthy, no longer anemic, and the red color is starting to fade the doe who was healthy is still healthy, the buck is still white but has gained weight is not anemic. The doe who was underweight and anemic has not progressed at all and has actually declined. The only difference between her and the buck was that he received more copper. They were both grazed on fresh pasture, dewormed the same, and fed the same. In the past she has been our healthiest goat and is the leader. Thanks for posting articles like this one to help with determining dosage.

* Crystal * said...

Hi Amanda! Thanks for stopping by to comment and I'm so happy you're starting to see improvement. In severe deficiency cases, I'll bolus, wait a month then bolus again with a half dose .....I've found that really helps get goats over the "hump" faster :)

Nicole said...

Hi Crystal I know this is an old post but I stumbled across it and was curious I feed my goats crystal creek goat mineral which is high in copper I'm wondering if I should still bolus?