Giving copper sulfate to goats orally is a common method for preventing and treating mild cases of copper deficiency, a common condition in both dairy and meat goats. Copper is an essential micronutrient that goats need for proper functioning of the nervous and immune systems. Signs that your goats may need supplemental dietary copper include poor growth, weight loss, decreased milk production, a hairless tail tip, light-colored rings around the eyes and -- typically the most distinctive symptom -- discolored or gray patches of hair. Before giving copper sulfate to your goats, always check with your veterinarian, who will help prevent accidental copper overdosing by examining the animals to verify copper deficiency.
Things You'll Need
- Trace mineral mix for goats
- Copper sulfate powder
- Measuring teaspoon
Give your goats free-choice access to a trace mineral mix that contains copper sulfate. Look for a mineral mix formulated specifically for goats and check the label to ensure it lists copper sulfate among the ingredients. If you own sheep, make sure they don't have access to this type of trace mineral mix; the amount of copper that goats need to stay healthy can be fatal in sheep.
Measure out 1 level teaspoon of copper sulfate powder, a blue, water-soluble powder typically available for purchase at hardware and livestock supply centers. Sprinkle the powder across the top of an adult goat's daily feed ration. Give the feed to the goat and watch to be sure the goat consumes the entire dose of copper sulfate. Repeat this process once every one to two weeks for each adult goat in your herd.
Monitor your goats' copper levels on a regular basis to keep from accidentally giving your goat too much copper sulfate. Arrange an appointment with your veterinarian so he can collect blood samples once every two to six months to assess each goat's copper levels.
Tips & Warnings
- Although copper is naturally present in soil, forages and hay, certain regions have depleted copper levels, which may lead to copper deficiency in goats that live in those areas. Check with your county cooperative extension office to find out if you live in a copper-deficient area.
- Signs that may indicate excessive copper levels in goats include yellow mucus membranes in the eyes or mouth, reddish-brown urine, unusual panting or lack of interest and spontaneous abortions in pregnant does. Copper toxicity may result in death, so contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms while giving copper sulfate to your goats.
- "Sheep and Goat Medicine"; D. G. Pugh, DVM; 2002
- "Your Goat"; Gail Damerow; 1993
- "Natural Goat Care"; Pat Coleby; 2001
- Colorado State University Extension; Copper Poisoning in Small Ruminants; Dave Van Metre, DVM
- Photo Credit Seiya Kawamoto/Lifesize/Getty Images
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