It’s difficult to determine what minerals to feed goats. And it’s important to consider different options because minerals play critical roles in goat performance.

While mineral may be a small portion of goat diets, it aids in many vital functions and impacts everything from reproduction to feed efficiency and overall herd health. One piece of advice for goat producers is to not skimp on mineral. Provide a quality mineral that supports performance.

There are three things to look for in goat mineral.

Provide consistent intake. The most important aspect of a mineral is to provide vital nutrients goats might be lacking. It can be difficult to be sure goats are receiving the intended nutrients if they don’t consistently eat the mineral. Choosing a palatable mineral assures that goats are eating and receiving proper amounts of essential minerals like copper and calcium. Also look for a mineral that’s formulated for low intake.

Palatability and low intake might sound like a contradiction, but the idea is for goats to receive the nutrition they need while avoiding overconsumption. When goats consume mineral at target intake levels, no minerals are wasted, and each goat receives the nutrition it needs.

Support reproduction. Many forages lack the essential minerals needed for sound reproductive health. And if goats don’t receive supplemental nutrition to fill the gap, producers may see an impact on reproductive performance. That could cause the cost per kid to steadily increase, which no producer wants to see.

Goats also have significantly increased energy needs during late gestation. Mineral deficiencies during that time can impact both the doe and the kid. Supplementing with a mineral high in calcium can help prepare goats for increased nutrient and energy needs to support overall health.

Providing quality mineral nutrition can help, but so can another key ingredient -- fat. Fat provides energy and helps optimize body condition to support reproductive health. Consider using high-fat protein supplements in conjunction with a goat mineral.

Formulate for year-round feeding. Many goat producers only offer mineral during the fall when forage quality decreases. But goats may lack minerals throughout the year, and it might not be known. Mineral deficiencies are often overlooked because the symptoms can be slow to show or difficult to connect back to a nutrition issue.

Supplying a mineral when forage quality decreases is common practice, but the best way to support performance and reproductive health is to provide a mineral year-round. Long-term mineral deficiencies can directly impact the bottom line because the herd won’t perform its best.

Look for a weatherized mineral that can survive the changing seasons year-round. Minerals formulated with larger particle sizes can help prevent waste due to wind, water or anything else Mother Nature throws at it.

Visit purinamills.com/goat-feed for more information.

Clay Elliott is a small-ruminant nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition.