You often hear about copper and selenium deficiency , but zinc deficiency in goats is starting to become just as prevalent. Know how to recognize it in your herd and know how to get your goats back on track.
Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency
Zinc deficient in goats is usually most evident in the skin and coat condition. Generally it presents with hair loss around the eyes and the base of the ears, the crusty looking skin. A lot of people misdiagnose this as mites or copper deficiency. But, if your goats are loosing hair around their eyes first, consider zinc deficiency.
Less obvious symptoms of zinc deficiency in goats are general “un-thriftiness” – loss of appetite, weight loss and low sex drive. Some goats may have swollen feet or stiff joints and bucks may present with small testes.
Like any other mineral deficiency, it’s hard to site any one main cause of zinc deficiency. Some goats are far more prone to zinc deficiency than others, and many people believe there is a genetic component involved in some cases. Another common cause of zinc deficiency is too much calcium in the goat’s diet – the calcium binds to the zinc and keeps it from being absorbed properly. This can happen with dairy goats that are on a heavy alfalfa based diet, as alfalfa is very rich in calcium.
Zinc is also becoming more deficient in soil just like copper and selenium, which means it’s not making it into goats diets through hay in deficient areas. Soil depletion is making all mineral balance more and more of a common issue for livestock across the board.
Luckily, there is a zinc supplement that can be offered free choice so goats can regulate their zinc intake if they need a little extra. ZinPro is a fantastic supplement, and we keep it out free choice beside our loose minerals and our goats take what they need. Adding it top dressed on feed or mixed in with other minerals keeps the goats from being able to select what they need when they need it.
In severe cases of zinc deficiency, vets can prescribe a mineral injectable such as Multi-Min. However, you have to be very careful with those, as its easy to overdose on the other minerals it contains. Only use it with a vet’s guidance.
When we still have a goat that’s showing signs of zinc deficiency despite having a free feed zinc supplement available, we treat that goat individually. Any “crusty ” skin in areas where the goats are loosing hair gets our Udderly Healing Balm daily, while we supplement daily with Funk Fixer Bites for additional zinc.