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My husband just built a mineral feeder for the goats and we purchased a mineral mix. My question is: should you slowly introduce the mineral mix? OR - is it okay to leave the mineral mix out if they never had it before?

We have been buying a goat mineral block at Big R (the local feed store) and on the block it will say to slowly introduce the block as they will overeat on the block. Does the same go for the mineral mix? I had a goat lady in our community tell me that they will stop eating when they have had enough. I worry that they can over eat minerals though.

Thank you,
Tonia
 

· Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Agreed. If its a true mineral mix and not mainly a salt, then you are a lot safer. We use a mineral mix that is higher in selenium and copper. It has salt in it but not to much. This allows the animals to take as much as they need without getting over loaded on salt. Had buyer from montana who we gave a bag too to take with the does she bought from us. She 50/50 the mineral mix with her normal loose salt after waited over a month before giving it to them. They over ate and the large amount of salt intake nearly killed them. Dont worry about to much selenium from a mineral mix. Animals can not extract a toxic level of selenium from a mineral mix. Manufacturers dont use the correct process on the selenium and they do it for just this reason.
 

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Dave said:
Dont worry about to much selenium from a mineral mix. Animals can not extract a toxic level of selenium from a mineral mix. Manufacturers dont use the correct process on the selenium and they do it for just this reason.
Hmm... that's interesting. I have to be super-careful about selenium intake since we have an over-abundance of it in my area. I always wondered why my goat went bald every summer after I moved to this area, and it turned out he was getting too much selenium in his browse. Two summers ago I removed his mineral block during the summer and replaced it with a plain salt block, and I supplemented his browse with hay to keep him from taking as many weeds. It was the first year he kept his coat since moving to this area.

So from your information on selenium in mineral mixes, I'm wondering if it makes a difference if the selenium load in the browse is already very high. Would the manufactured selenium make any difference at all in that case, or could it make the tipping point for too much natural selenium lower, since the mineral mix would already put selenium in their body? Not sure if I'm making sense here, but I do wonder about this... especially since I actually lost a horse to selenium poisoning a couple of years ago. I started removing mineral blocks from my horses during the summer as well, and in my experience it seems to help them keep their manes and tails. What do you think?
 

· Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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That is a great question. But as we are very low in selenium in my area Id have to make a guess cause Ive never had to think about it. But I would say, if possible, not to buy a mix with selenium. If you're at that high of a level now, you very well could send it over the top. That is selenium in its natural state and is easily consumed. Not like in a mixed state. Though you can buy a mixed mineral with the correct selenium extraction process. But from what I have been told, its VERY expensive.
 

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Yeah, most areas are low in selenium, so it's hard to find trace minerals without it. Even a lot of people around here have low selenium content in their soil. Apparently selenium exists in pockets, and one field might have areas of low and high concentration, making it hard to test your hay properly unless you sample all of it. I know it mostly comes out in weeds since they tend to have the deeper roots and the selenium exists pretty far down. This is probably why it always affected Cuzco more than the horses since he prefers the weeds. But two years ago we had heavy spring rains after several years of drought. The grass had put down deep roots over the years and when we got those spring rains, the selenium got sucked right up into the stems overnight as the grass sprung up, which is how my horse got poisoned. We struggled with the effects for two months before I made the sad decision to put her down.

I've not had any ill effects from removing the mineral blocks during the summer months. Horses and goat have all kept their hair and seem very healthy since I started doing this. Interestingly enough, when I gave them a choice this spring, they actually avoided the minerals and have been going for the white block only. It's like their bodies are telling them that they don't need what's in the red one. I've never fed Cuzco loose minerals (although I've tried). He doesn't like them and won't touch them. However, he does love to lick and chew the horse blocks. Sometimes you just have to shrug and say "Whatever!" :)
 

· Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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That is exactly what their bodies do. They will always need the salt but if in good shape, they should rarely go after the mins. Its amazing that you figured out your selenium issue. Even with symptoms, I dont know Id of ever thought of it, being from a low selenium area. It would just be one of those... could it be?... na thoughts. Good job :)
 

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Well, I would have never guessed at the selenium problem either except that so many of my horse friends have struggled with it, and I myself lost a horse to it when I moved her to a different pasture to separate her from the boys. Selenium poisoning causes horses to lose their manes and tails, sometimes their coats and hooves as well. My horse only lost about half of her mane and tail, but it affected her hooves very badly to the point where she had to be put down.

Anyway, as soon as I learned that my horse had been poisoned by selenium that spring, I made the connection to Cuzco's annual summer baldness and removed his mineral block, limited his time on browse, and supplemented him with hay cut in a low selenium area. That was the first year the hair on his back didn't fall out.
 

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We have been feeding our goats primarily pasture grass hay supplemented with wet cob (actually a product called "Allstock"). Now that it's spring they are also getting access to increasing amounts of fresh browse.

Nevertheless, we are concerned that they may not be getting sufficient minerals in their diet. A few weeks ago I bought a Purina "goat block" and was astonished at how quickly my four goats polished it off. The 25 pound block was gone in a couple of days! Fortunately they don't seem any worse for wear from their gluttony, and I'm considering giving them another block, but am not sure if I should get another "goat block" (which appears to contain molasses, which they LOVE) or should opt for a more traditional mineral block that might last longer. I would, of course, make sure the block contained both selenium and copper.

What do the Teeming Masses recommend?

Thanks,
Ken
 

· Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Loose mineral mixes last longer, are much easier on their teeth and allows them to get what they need. Takes a couple of week usually for them to stop attacking the block / mineral salt and start eating it in a normal manner.
 
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