November 2010 Issue



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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
Updated 10-3-10

Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


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Easy Method for Collecting Goat Berries for Fecals

Items needed: Latex gloves, container of warm water, small pill bottle or film canister for processing fecal matter.


Catch goat, glove up and dip your fingers in the warm water. This will lubricate your gloved fingers for entering the goat’s anus. Insert your index finger in the goat’s anus if a small goat or your index and middle finger if a larger sized goat. There should be goat berries just inside the anus opening.

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Gently scoop out goat berries. Remove your glove pulling the wrist opening toward your fingers tips while still holding the goat berries in your gloved hand. This will keep the berries safe inside your gloves. Berries will fall down into the fingers of the gloves. Tie the wrist opening closed and carry glove to your work area for doing your fecals.

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When you are ready to run your fecals cut the finger tips of the gloves and let the berries drop into your container. You are now ready to start the fecal testing without letting the berries get contaminated from touching the ground.

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Pat Cotten ©2010
Bending Tree Ranch


Parasites are the biggest health management problem facing goat producers. Worms and coccidia kill more goats than all other illnesses combined. Every goat producer should schedule routine microscopic examinations of goat pills (feces) for worms and coccidia. Do not wait for a problem; prevent it.

Doing fecals is easy. All you need are a few supplies and some goat poop. An inexpensive and suitable microscope is the MSK-01 with 4 x 10 x 40 power and a movable stage. As of this writing, it is available for $100 from (MilesCo Scientific). A movable stage is needed so that the slide can be moved side to side as you look through the eyepiece.

Additional supplies needed are test tubes (12 cc syringe covers will suffice), plain glass slides (McMaster green-gridded slides are not necessary unless you are trying to raise goats in an area of heavy rainfall), slide covers (optional), fecal floatation solution (sodium nitrate can be obtained from a vet), a stirrer (fecal loop or popsicle stick), a block of styrofoam (hollowed out to hold the test tubes upright), and a chart depicting worm eggs and coccidia oocysts. Here is a link to the parasite chart site: McMasters slides are only available from Chalex Corp. at

Now for the fun part. Catch the goat whose pills you want to check and collect fresh feces, either by using a fecal loop to gather it from inside the goat, or stand around for a few minutes until the goat drops some pills. Given their fast metabolism, goats defecate often. Do not use dried-out goat pills when doing fecal examinations. Empty pill bottles are good for collection and labeling. For goats with diarrhea who require fecal testing, put on a pair of disposable gloves and obtain a fecal sample by inserting your gloved fingers into the goat. Turn the glove inside out, then cut the glove and place the fecal material on the slide.

Put three of four fresh goat pills into the test tube and pour just enough floatation solution into the tube to cover them completely. Mash them with the stirrer. Fill the tube with more floatation solution to the point that it is slightly overflowing. Place a glass slide over the top, letting a suction form with the solution against the slide, and place the slide in your styrofoam test-tube holder. Wait five minutes to allow the eggs to float to the top and adhere to the slide.

Carefully remove the slide from the top of the test tube and place the slide into the microscope's viewing holder (movable stage) . Dispose of the contents of the test tube. Using the chart of worm eggs and coccidia oocysts, slowly adjust the lens to suit your eyes and move the slide from side to side until you find worm eggs and/or coccidia oocysts. The main worm problem in goats in the USA is Haemonchus contortus; this worm sucks blood, causing anemia and death. The funny-looking darkened zeroes with a small white pinhole center are water bubbles. Since the slide's contents have not be strained, there will be debris in the mixture, so ignore it and look only for the parasite eggs as the chart depicts them.

Almost every goat has a few worms and even some coccidia oocysts to help stimulate its immune system. But if you find more than a couple of eggs or oocysts in your fecal sample, take appropriate corrective measures by medicating the goat properly.

There are far more sophisticated methods for doing fecals, but the procedure outlined above will suffice quite well for the average goat producer. It will tell you what you need to know in order to keep your herd's fecal counts low.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
10-5-10 update

OCR Twain, fullblood long-haired muscled Myotonic buckling available for sale.



Contact Suzanne Gasparotto at
325-344-5775 for prices and availability.

Tennessee Meat Goats™ and TexMasters™ are usually available year round. Contact us for ages and pricing by calling 325-344-5775 or emailing




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