Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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B VITAMINS and THEIR IMPORTANCE TO GOAT HEALTH

Because all B vitamins are water soluble, a healthy goat manufactures its own B vitamins daily in its rumen. The goat uses what it needs each day and excretes the rest from its body. It does not store B vitamins in its body. Two of the B vitamins that are extremely important to goat health are Vitamin B 1 (thiamine) and Vitamin B12.

A goat that is not eating is a goat whose rumen is not producing B vitamins. When a goat is sick, it usually quits eating and/or drinking-- goes off feed. This is very serious in a kid, because its rumen is just beginning to function and its immune system is not fully developed until about a year of age. When a goat goes off feed, B vitamins must be provided. Injectable Fortified Vitamin B Complex is a good way to add B vitamins. The word "fortified" in the name is crucial; "fortified" means that the vitamin complex contains 100 mg/mL of Vitamin B 1 (thiamine). This strength of thiamine is extremely important. Fortified Vitamin B Complex is available over the counter by mail order from Jeffers (1-800-JEFFERS or 1-800-533-3377).

Vitamin B 1 (thiamine) is necessary for carbohydrate metabolism and normal neural activity. When metabolism slows down as a result of inadequate amounts of thiamine, cells die and brain swelling occurs. With Polioencephalomalacia (Goat Polio), there is a shift in rumen micro-organisms and a change in metabolism that consumes all the thiamine made in the rumen. A high carbohydrate diet (lots of sacked grains) containing high levels of sulfur (greater than 0.30% of total diet) appears to be a major cause of Goat Polio. Thiamine injections are required to overcome this condition. Sacked grains (carbohydrates) should be removed from the goat's total diet to allow the rumen flora to return to normal. Soybean meal is a good protein source for goats, but it also contains a high level of sulfur. High-protein diets with soybean meal as the primary protein source along with the "sulfate" variety of many minerals can lead to a diet high enough in sulfur to create polioencephalomalacia.

Thiamine deficiency in a goat can produce life-threatening conditions. Administer thiamine injectably whenever a goat becomes ill. Usage of Fortified Vitamin B Complex is acceptable, because it contains Vitamin B 1 as well as other necessary B vitamins. Dosage is four (4) cc's per hundred pounds bodyweight given IM (into the muscle) every 12 hours. Since all B vitamins are water soluble, overdosing is difficult and the margin of safety is wide. Better too much than not enough when giving B vitamins.

Vitamin B 12 is a red injectable liquid that in many locales is a prescription item. Buy a bottle of Vitamin B 12 from your vet. Fortified Vitamin B Complex is not sufficient for treating Vitamin B 12 deficiency. Do not use the poultry product that contains Vitamin B 12 and Vitamin K, as Vitamin K in involved in blood coagulation. Goats heavily infected with worms become anemic, and Vitamin B 12 is an essential part of bringing them back to health. B 12 injections may be required daily over a period of weeks or months, depending upon the severity of the anemia.

To avoid repeated injections during long-term treatment, the producer can add B vitamins to the feed of a severely-anemic goat by using a swine vitamin premix or top-dressing feed with Show Bloom, both of which should be available from a local feedstore or from a mail-order house like Jeffers. However, I am not a believer in medicating goats via water or feed because the goat that needs it most is going to be on the bottom of the pecking order and will get the least. Direct administration of medication into the goat is the best way to insure proper dosing. B vitamins, especially B 12, can jump start the rumen function and get a goat eating again.

Producers living in geographic areas with cobalt deficiencies should know that a sufficient cobalt intake is essential for the manufacture and utilization of Vitamin B 12. As a measure of safety, assume that cobalt is deficient and make sure it is in all mineral or protein/energy supplements. It is not expensive. Cobalt requirement in the goat's diet is believed to be 0.1 parts per million, although not much research has been done in this area.

The primary reason that I discourage producers from formulating and/or mixing their own goat feed is that vitamin and mineral interactions are so critical that mixing feed should be left to trained professional livestock nutritionists. At certain levels, specific items work with each other; at other levels, they inhibit nutritional uptake. Some ingredients are cheap but are not readily absorbed by the goat's body -- oxides (except magnesium oxide). Others are more expensive but are better utilized nutritionally -- sulfates, chlorides, carbonates. Feed components need to be biologically active.

The most difficult part of raising goats in any sort of managed environment is proper nutrition. The information contained is this article is proof of the importance of this fact. My thanks go to Kent Mills, nutritionist in charge of technical services for goats, sheep, and wildlife, at HiPro Feeds in Freonia, Texas for furnishing technical data used in preparation of this article.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
ONION CREEK RANCH
Updated 10-3-10

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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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