Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

How would you handle goats that refuse minerals?  Even my two Icelandic lambs, who live with my does, are refusing them.  I started using Crystal Creek (available at my feed store) but they won't touch it.  Not the does, not the lambs, not the wethers (who are housed separately, so they can't be copying the girls).  I then tried Back in Balance (which costs more) as the breeders I have talked to say it's the best.  Nope.  I then, out of desperation, tried the cafeteria style minerals so they can pick what they want...and they inhale Sulfur.  I have high Iron in my water, I'm in a copper deficient area, and am definitely having copper issues so the sulfur eating is boggling my mind.  It's an antagonist to copper, right?  They don't touch the copper supplement.  They also inhale the kelp and a little Selenium.  So lots of kelp, lots of Sulfur, sometimes Selenium...but nothing else.  Someone local told me to take away the kelp and give them the mineral mix, thinking the kelp was stopping them from eating minerals.  That didn't work either. 

I'm basically losing my mind, and my money...possibly the goats and sheep at this rate.  I bolused the whole lot again as they have fish tail, rough coats, and my black doe has white spectacles.  I have issues here.  But how do I get these stinkers to take up minerals just so they have some kind of baseline nutrition?  If they "know" when they need minerals, and look homeless from obvious deficiencies, why don't they do it?  

I do put out small amounts at a time so the minerals aren't stale.  It doesn't matter if they are fresh everyday, they just won't take it.  I make smiley faces in the surface of the fresh minerals and the same design will be there at the end of the day.  I don't think it's because goats don't like smiley faces.

Any ideas?

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I agree that there are times for unconventional means of treatment.  I didn't make my son go through surgery without anesthesia because it isn't organic, so likewise, when my new lambs had bottle jaw and anemia the day after I got them I did blast them with chemical dewormer.  I'm not looking to use these methods day to day :)  I overreacted and took your comment the wrong way Deborah, and for the world to see on this forum, I am sorry.  You're a true goat friend :)

I used COWP at 1g per 20# once fishtail set in.  Tails grew back but some skin issues remain (flakey skin, rough hair, still sporting spectacles).  I agree I shouldn't rebolus.

Our soil is not deficient in Molybdenum.   We are in a Selenium deficient area, 0.14 ppm.  Also Zinc 38 ppm.  As for the sulfur, I have read low amounts can cause wool issues (my sheep feel like Brillo pads and my goats are rough) and also skin issues, which is why I gave the sulfur supplement separate...just to see.  I did just find some lice on my goats this week (so many fun things going on here!!!), so if Pat Coleby is right, low sulfur could be a problem...because the goats won't eat the minerals.

I did contact someone who formulates minerals and she says she does see animals refuse minerals from time to time, so I feel better knowing it's not just me!  She said she sees animals hold out for a long time on minerals if there is something else they want, as may be my case with kelp.  I didn't get a response from my flerd when I removed the kelp, so she suggested I take ALL supplements away, including baking soda.  After one day of supplement fasting give a small amount of minerals mixed with an herb the animals like, and slowly remove the herb over the course of days, then slowly reintroduce the salt and baking soda separate, still holding out on kelp for now.  I have not removed the baking soda in the past.  Maybe I don't need more science, but a ruminant psychology degree :)  

Interestingly, I had acquired a ewe and two 5 week old lambs on Sunday.  All three of the new sheep in quarantine are eating the minerals.  I just have to laugh.  For whatever reason, it may just be that my flerd is holding out against the mixed minerals. Good grief.  For the time being,  I'm going to go out and take everyone's supplements away and dust them with sulfur.  

I'm glad you understand that I'm not anti-organic. :)

You mentioned having salt separately. If you do, that could be your problem right there. You should never have a plain salt available when you are using salt as a carrier in your minerals. 

I don't normally suggest that people do forage or soil testing, but I think it would be interesting in this situation.

The fact that the new sheep are eating the mineral would not lead me to believe that there is anything psychological going on with your animals. Those new sheep came with a completely different mineral balance since they've spent their lives on another farm up until now, and minerals are stored in the liver, so it takes months for deficiencies and sometimes toxicities to develop.

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