Mineral deficiency?

Hello. My name is Leslie and I have 3 ND wethers, they are 2.5 years old.  They eat grass hay, a handful of timothy hay pellets once a day, and free choice manna pro minerals. We have well water but it's treated (and they get the water that is treated). I noticed my black goat has some hair loss around his eyes. I don't see any rusty coat areas - his coat color and tail look ok to me. Minor hair loss on nose. The only other thing I notice is that down his back line his cashmere doesn't look as nice as I'd like and skin is a bit flaky, and it's almost like some of the cashmere is shedding there.  Pictures are attached....and the other goats have no sign of any issue. I have never been in a position where I felt I needed to copper bolus. He has previously had some rusty spots that seem to improve eventually, so it's possible he has some transient mineral deficiency if the hay is variable over time, or his mineral intake varies?  I get about 3 bales at a time, using about a bale per week, and they often look different each time I get new bales. I haven't done any hay analysis since I don't ever have much of the same thing, but I will certainly ask the feed mill to find out if they might be getting too much alfalfa on occasion. I'm suspecting either he is low on copper or zinc, but I'm not sure given his overall coat color looks good. My vet has been in the camp about not worrying about mineral deficiency for the wethers, but I want his coat to be excellent since we are not even to the worst of winter yet and it gets very cold here in MN! Should I try switching to Purina mineral? It's the only other one I think I can readily purchase. Or giving him copper bolus with COWP? I could also increase pellets if it's possible the hay isn't quite the right balance, but I tend to give fewer pellets when we have cold spells so they eat more hay. I thought before I take any action I should have someone look at the photos and give an opinion.

Thank you!



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  • Hi there Leslie!

    I am so sorry that I missed this today. 
    I am confused about the hay they are eating. You said it was grass hay, but then you mentioned asking about how much alfalfa is mixed in? Grass hay is hay made from grass, such as Timothy or Bermuda. Alfalfa is not a grass, it is a legume and is very different in nutritional value. Is the hay you are purchasing possibly a grass/alfalfa blend?

    I would find out the specifics of your hay and go ahead and change to Purina Loose Goat Mineral (not sheep and goat)

    In general, his coat looks nice and thick and shiny. I would not think that copper is an issue, but if you have been feeding alfalfa or an alfalfa blend, just changing the hay and improving the quality of your loose mineral is where I would start for a minor zinc deficiency :)


    • Thanks Tammy! I buy feed hay, which I do understand to be grass hay, and they usually sell a separate hay with alfalfa mix at the feed mill I buy from. I was thinking I should verify that their feed hay isn't a mix with alfalfa since I haven't checked in a while, and the only reason I even thought of it is that the last bales I had looked a little different, more weedy/floral. Could have just been weedy grass though. Right now it just looks like grass. Would all of them have a zinc issue though if it was the hay? I am confused why only one seems to have a problem, but he is my runt. Could the hair loss around the eye be either copper or zinc....or something else? I'll definitely switch to the Purina and see how that goes!

      • Both copper and zinc deficiency can cause hair loss. Zinc issues typically cause some skin issues as well. The higher calcium in alfalfa could impact both copper and zinc. His coat looks shiny and dark in the photos, so honestly it could be a coin toss between the 2. Perhaps that this is just really early so not seeing other supporting symptoms? Either way, improving your mineral and clarifying the contents of your hay will be beneficial :) I don't see anything in the photos that would cause me to think he needs any additional supplements at this point, but definitely keep an eye on him. Photos are such a great way to track and monitor subtle changes over time!

        You can certainly have early deficiency symptoms in individuals or a small group as opposed to the entire herd at the same time.  Over time, severe deficiency in any nutrient as a whole will show up across the board though. 

        • Thanks for the reply, Tammy. I'll confirm the hay, switch minerals and try not to worry about him too much yet!  :)

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