Forage will only ever be as good as the dirt it came from. Is your soil deficient? You are not alone.
We live in farm country. We know our soil can grow tons of valued vegetation (and quite often vegetation you wish wouldn’t grow so happily). But along much of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the soil is very low in naturally-occurring levels of copper, zinc, and selenium.
This poses challenges for foraging livestock, as these are critical trace minerals for various bodily functions. Copper and selenium deficiencies can cause problems with growth, reproduction, lactation, and dealing with internal parasites, among other complications.
Signs of copper deficiency in goats often first show up as a ruddy…or even copper-toned coat. You might also see loss of hair on the face and tail.[Insert picture of ruddy goat…I bet Heather Clark has some before and after pics]
The NC Department of Agriculture urges you to test your hay and soil and will help you do it. Visit https://www.ncagr.gov/hayalert/TestingForage.htm or call your local Ag Extension Agent for more information on hay and forage testing.
Just as we adapt our animals’ natural diets to account for increased performance or production, there are ways to adapt to these potential deficiencies: vitamin/mineral mixes that can be free choice or added to feed, highly fortified boluses that can be…errrm….ingested by putting your goat in a headlock and getting that darn thing in there one way or another.
Finding a complete feed that supplements the limitations of our soil can be a real win, but nationally-available brands will often only cover the lowest common denominator.
Here are several popular Goat formulas from nationally available brands:
One advantage that a regional mill like CFM is able to offer its customers is tailoring formulas to take these local needs into consideration. We offer balanced, complete nutrition to save you time, effort, and money while safeguarding from potentially hazardous deficiencies.
Carolina Pride 18% Premium Goat feed, for example, has boosted copper, zinc, and selenium levels, as well as higher Vitamin E, than most other goat feeds you’ll find in NC. (Of course, it also has great digestible fibers, black oil sunflower seeds, probiotics, is supremely affordable, has a proven track record of increasing milk production and body scores, etc. etc. but we can talk about that another time.) If you’d like to learn more, give us a call.
Soil Zinc Map of the USA using Geostatistics and Geographic Information Systems. Soil Science Society of America Journal – SSSAJ. 61. 10.2136/sssaj1997.03615995006100010027x.
Map of soil copper content in the U.S. (red = high copper areas). Courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Resources.http://genomics.unl.edu/RBC_EDU/cu.html