Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

My three boys hit the two year mark two weeks ago. The first year was pretty straight forward but this past year we seem to be struggling with what might be copper deficiency but not sure.
1. Vinny - my brown one has gone tan and lost hair around his eyes and back of ears and some spots on his front legs. Now I see a patch of hair gone on his spine. Has dry flaky skin but i don't see any lice.
2. Frankie - smallest black one recently had the fish tail and reddish brown patches. Today, at a certain angle i see he is getting a tint of red throughout his black areas.
3. Billy Jack - the largest black one had hair loss on ridge of nose and started to get fish tail. He has reddish tint in his black fur but ridge hair is back and tail looks fuller.

Being that I have given them copper more frequent in the last 6 months, I am worried about giving too much and /or missing the root of the cause altogether.


Here has been my copper supplement timing so far, 2gr each although I am thinking it may be too little for them now. 

Copper given 5/7/17, 11/17, 1/18 for #3, 2/13/18 for #1 & 2 and finally 3/27/18 for all three.

I feel like they are not improving and in the case of the first two seem to be getting worse.

They get fescue/orchard hay, soda and Manna minerals with some mountain grazing as the weather changes.

Your suggestions and assistance is most appreciated as i want to make sure they are feeling their best.

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The usual dosage is 1 gram per 22 pounds, so unless they weigh only 44 pounds, you are under-dosing them. If you have serious antagonists, such as sulfur or iron in your well water, you may need to give copper every 3 months at that dose, so you can see that you really are not giving that much compared to what some have to give. I'd suggest taking my free copper course to get the full picture of how it works -- https://thriftyhomesteader.teachable.com/p/copper-deficiency/ 

Losing a patch of hair on the spine and having dry, flaky skin sounds more like zinc deficiency, but I would not expect that unless you were feeding alfalfa (because the calcium binds with zinc, making it unavailable).

Unless they are getting grain, they don't really need the baking soda.

Thank you so much Deborah. I will definitely take your course as this has baffled me and i want to make sure they are healthy and comfortable.

I used the measurement method to estimate weight on them and was clearly off in dosage as you noted. I may trot out the scale to get a more definitive weight. But from the method used so far i have a 62 lbs, 66lbs and 80lbs. Based on those figures I have under dosed. So this brings about a new dilemma. I last gave them each 2 grams at the end of March. I was figuring the next round to be end of June. So do I wait until then and provide appropriate dosage or since they were under dosed and still show signs of deficiency just giving the appropriate dosage now? What do you think?

Thanks again for your assistance.



Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

The usual dosage is 1 gram per 22 pounds, so unless they weigh only 44 pounds, you are under-dosing them. If you have serious antagonists, such as sulfur or iron in your well water, you may need to give copper every 3 months at that dose, so you can see that you really are not giving that much compared to what some have to give. I'd suggest taking my free copper course to get the full picture of how it works -- https://thriftyhomesteader.teachable.com/p/copper-deficiency/ 

Losing a patch of hair on the spine and having dry, flaky skin sounds more like zinc deficiency, but I would not expect that unless you were feeding alfalfa (because the calcium binds with zinc, making it unavailable).

Unless they are getting grain, they don't really need the baking soda.

Since you under-dosed them, you can probably just give the regular dose now since it's already been about six weeks.

Danny Villa said:

Thank you so much Deborah. I will definitely take your course as this has baffled me and i want to make sure they are healthy and comfortable.

I used the measurement method to estimate weight on them and was clearly off in dosage as you noted. I may trot out the scale to get a more definitive weight. But from the method used so far i have a 62 lbs, 66lbs and 80lbs. Based on those figures I have under dosed. So this brings about a new dilemma. I last gave them each 2 grams at the end of March. I was figuring the next round to be end of June. So do I wait until then and provide appropriate dosage or since they were under dosed and still show signs of deficiency just giving the appropriate dosage now? What do you think?

Thanks again for your assistance.

So I took advantage of the weatherman's incorrect forecast and spent the day with my goats cleaning up their pen and barn area. To make sure I had the right weights, I brought out a scale and we played guess my weight. Seems the measurement method was pretty close. I have a 60lb, 62lb and 75lb. So for the first time I was able to provide the correct dosage of copper 3 grams to the smaller two 4 grams for the big guy.

I did notice that today the one with the flaky skin has begun to have clumpy stools. Not sure if it as a result of the deficiency causing some other problems. He didn't get into anything that i was aware of so am hoping it is just his rumen off balance. After the copper i also provided him with probiotics and he seems to be eating and drinking normally. Just having clumped stools. 

Thanks Deborah for the course and all the info. It is a huge help.

Did you give the probiotics before or after you saw the clumped stools? I've never heard of anyone giving probiotics at the same time as the copper, so I'm not sure if they would have any type of interaction with each other. The copper should not have caused a change in stool. 

Update: Stools back to normal today. I checked throughout the day and he seems to be back to berries. I gave him probiotics after seeing the clumped stool. I wouldn’t think the copper would cause as I discovered it prior to giving copper. 

So now I wait and hope to see some improvements from the copper dosage. 


Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

Did you give the probiotics before or after you saw the clumped stools? I've never heard of anyone giving probiotics at the same time as the copper, so I'm not sure if they would have any type of interaction with each other. The copper should not have caused a change in stool. 

If he had the clumpy stool prior to giving the copper, that could have been caused by worms, and copper oxide kills worms, so the copper could have caused his stools to go back to normal. I've read at least 15 studies where they used copper oxide as a dewormer. Sounds like it's already helped him, even though it was not in the way you anticipated.

Update: it’s been a couple of weeks since I have my three the proper dosage of copper and I am starting to see some positive results. My brown boy is actually going from beige to a darker brown and his skin has improved tremendously. It was previously very scaly and dry, loss of hair around eyes and bridge of nose. All of those issues are beginning to clear up.  Still a ways off from back to normal but I can see the improvements and he seems to be in better spirits. My other two are losing the red tint although still there and just not as prominent. Brown spots are fading too. Amazing when you are able to finally address a problem with the correct treatment. Thankful for the assistance and opportunity to learn more about keeping my boys healthy. 

Awesome! So glad to hear you're seeing improvement!

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