What Minerals Do Goats Need?

A breakdown of what minerals goats need and how to choose the best goat mineral mix

Posted by Brooke Loeffler on May 7, 2024 10:12:54 AM

Goats have a reputation for nibbling on a little bit of everything, and even with all that browsing, domestic goats still need extra help filling in the mineral gaps of their diet. Learn more about what to look for in a goat mineral program and how to get your herd what they need without all the waste.

Goat Mineral Requirements

Goats need a balance of 7 macro-minerals (needed in larger amounts) and 8 micro-minerals (needed in smaller amounts) to maintain a healthy function.

Minerals that goats need

Macrominerals for Goats

  • Calcium: milk and bone formation, electrolyte powering nerve, muscle, and cardiovascular function
  • Phosphorus: bone formation, cell growth, energy utilization, acid base balance, rumen microbe growth
  • Magnesium: electrolyte, metabolizes fats and carbohydrates, a component of many enzymes
  • Potassium: electrolyte that powers nerves, muscles, fluid balance, cardiovascular function, metabolism, and pH balance
  • Sodium: electrolyte that powers nerves, muscles, fluid balance, and cardiovascular function 
  • Chlorine: electrolyte that powers nerves, muscles, fluid balance, and cardiovascular function
  • Sulfur: milk and hair production, important component of amino acids, hormones, hemoglobin, connective tissue, enzymes, and vitamins biotin and thiamine

Microminerals for Goats

  • Iron: cellular respiration and transporting oxygen in red blood cells
  • Iodine: metabolism and thyroid function
  • Zinc: immune response, protein synthesis, and enzyme function
  • Selenium: antioxidant, works with vitamin E to prevent white muscle disease, and protect from parasites
  • Copper: immune and nerve function, formation of red blood cells, hair pigment, connective tissue, and enzymes
  • Cobalt: component of vitamin B12 and rumen microbe growth
  • Molybdenum: helps balance copper levels (found easily in forage, usually doesn’t need to be supplemented)
  • Manganese: bone formation, reproduction and enzyme functioning

Learn more about these minerals and their interactions.

Where Do Goats Get Their Minerals?

Livestock animals get 100% of their daily mineral requirements through a combination of the following:

  • Forage
  • Feed
  • Mineral Supplementation
  • Water

Goat mineral requirements

The majority of your goats’ minerals will naturally come from their forage (dried or fresh forage) and is followed by minerals from their feed. Agres in Wisconsin has conducted sample grass testing to show that average forage naturally contains enough of most of the essential minerals.

Forage mineral levels

Learn more about testing your own forage.

After forage and feed, extra mineral supplementation helps fill in any gaps in their diet. Mineral supplements can prevent deficiencies in those minerals that are not high enough in feed/forage, plus cover any fluctuations in quality. Mineral supplements are not supposed to provide 100% of an animal's mineral needs. Animals cannot get 100% of their minerals from a bag, just like humans do not get 100% of their requirements from a vitamin bottle.

When Extra Minerals Are Needed

During certain life stages and times of year, your goats will need extra minerals to meet greater demands on their system. Their mineral requirements will fluctuate for a number of reasons:

  • Gestation/kidding: pregnant goats need extra minerals to protect them from metabolic and immune problems (like ketosis and white muscle disease), especially during the last 50 days of pregnancy (learn more about what minerals pregnant goats need)
  • Lactation: keep up healthy milk production and prevent milk fever (hypocalcemia) 
  • Fall and Winter scarcity: fall and winter forages are often sparser and lower in nutrients 
  • Summer heat stress: goats lose more than just water during heat waves, extra minerals and electrolytes are needed to support healthy hydration and rumen health

Choosing Minerals for Your Goats

Goats should have free access to a loose mineral mix for every day needs, plus block or rock minerals for engagement and to curb destructive boredom behaviors. (Click to learn more about when to use loose or block minerals). Here are a few guidelines to help you choose the best mix for your goats:

Avoid Fillers and Fluff

Some mineral mixes are loaded with processed grain byproducts like dried distiller grains (DDGS) that your goats’ don’t crave or need. These unnecessary ingredients make it so your animals have to eat through a lot of filler in order to get to their minerals. Products with DDGS also require more careful moderation to make sure they do not eat too much, especially for smaller animals like sheep and goats. DDGS are high in phosphorus and sulfur and eating too much can cause health problems, interfere with their ability to metabolize important minerals (like copper and molybdenum), and pollute their environment as they excrete excess phosphorus and sulfur. 

Choose Goat Formulated Mixes

Generic small ruminant mixes will likely not have enough copper in them for your goats’ because they are formulated to be safe for sheep (who have lower copper tolerances). Copper is a common deficiency in goats, so make sure you get a goat formulated mix that has more than sheep levels of copper.

How to Encourage Intake

Electrolyte salts are the most effective carrier to get your goats to eat the trace minerals and fortifications they need. According to Dr. Larry L. Berger Ph.D (Professor of Animal Nutrition, University of Illinois):

salt is a natural carrier for trace minerals, since all farm animals have a natural appetite for salt...it can be used as a delivery mechanism to ensure adequate intake of less palatable nutrients and as a feed intake limiter.”

Electrolyte salts enter your goats’ bloodstream immediately, making the biological feedback irresistible; an instinctual craving that naturally boosts intake without unnecessary sweeteners.

Redmond vs. Other (Heavy) Minerals Products

Goat mineral comparison

Redmond Mineral Program 

  • Redmond’s nature balanced formula takes into account that most of the animal’s needs will be met by other dietary input. This proportion helps keep levels within healthy limits without disturbing mineral interactions.
  • Redmond’s profile has minerals that go to work, not to waste. It is meant to fill in the gaps in their diet and provide extra supplementation where their bodies need it.
  • Redmond does not need to use fillers, byproducts or other sweeteners to get animals to eat their minerals. Salty electrolytes are the most natural, and best carrier for supplementation.
  • Without all the unnecessary filler, animals do not need to eat as much mineral with Redmond. 

Heavy Mineral Mixes

  • Heavy mineral products that try to max out mineral values, do not take into account that most of the animals’ needs will be met by other dietary input.
  • Heavy mineral mixes cause a lot of excreted mineral waste as your animal’s are forced to expel excess minerals. They also cause imbalances and antagonist mineral interactions as they exceed their recommended requirements.
  • Heavy mineral mixes rely on unnecessary fillers and sweeteners that animals don’t need to encourage intake. Without those additives, animals would not eat them.
  • Labels normally suggest high intake levels to get the minerals because of the amount of fillers and other by-products

Redmond Goat Mineral Questions and Answers

Does too much salt cause dehydration?

  • As a natural electrolyte, salt actually encourages proper hydration. Once hydrated, salty electrolytes enter the bloodstream quickly to start powering all the little electrical impulses that power cells, muscles, circulation, and central nervous function. That is why all living animals crave salt, the biological feedback is immediate.

Why does Redmond Goat Mineral not have 100% of their daily requirements?

  • Mineral mixes are meant to only be a small part of your animals’ dietary input. Most of their minerals come from their feed and forage. When your goats eat feed, forage, and heavy mineral mixes, they end up excreting a lot of mineral waste. Mineral supplements are designed to cover gaps in their diet and the fluctuation in feed and forage quality. Just like humans can’t get all their nutrition from a bottle, goats can’t get all their nutrition from a bag.

Why do my animals only eat a little bit at a time?

  • Because Redmond does not fill our mixes with processed by-products that your animals don’t need, they don’t have to eat past all that to actually get their minerals. A little goes a long way, and your animals’ natural craving for salt will help them regulate their intake so they only eat what they need without all the waste.

Does Redmond Goat Mineral Mix have too much salt?

  • All kept livestock need salt supplementation, because forages are low in salt. However not all salt is created equal. Redmond does not just contain “salt”, but a blend of 4 natural electrolytes (sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and potassium chloride). Salty electrolytes are the perfect carrier for other minerals that aren’t as appealing or appetizing to eat. Salty electrolytes cross into the bloodstream immediately when consumed, so the benefits are felt right away. This quick feedback to the body is what causes cravings, making salts the best, natural delivery system for all the other minerals and vitamins your animals need (much more effective and natural than added sweeteners and by-product fillers).

© 2023 Redmond Minerals Inc.

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