Archive | 5:50 pm

A Diagnosis

8 May

My vet called me yesterday afternoon, and I swear he almost sounded giddy with excitement when he told me that the toxicology report found what was killing my kids.  Copper deficiency.

Ares and Brigit

Now that is crazy because Iowa isn’t one of those places where you have to worry about mineral deficiencies because our soil usually provides plenty of what they need.  Seriously.  When I first got goats and started reading, I even asked my old vet if it was something I needed to worry about, and he said it really wasn’t.  Goats generally require feed with 15 – 20 ppm of copper [1].  I looked at the map for Iowa, and my county averages 16.7 ppm. [2]  It shouldn’t be a problem because I also have a mineral block that has copper in it.


Liver testing should result with a number in the twenties (I can’t remember exactly what the vet said; I think it was 20 – 24).  My kids both both tested at 2.

Joani’s beautiful heroine Persephone

It also explains Harley’s back injury.  In adults, the copper deficiency can cause brittle bones.  It can also cause sway backs, hair loss, anemia, diarrhea, and a whole bunch of other horrors.  It also causes loss of color in their fur. [4]  I wondered why Haley’s belly has gotten lighter in the last year or so.  I just poured my goats for lice because I noticed a couple were losing their fur.

When kids are suffering from copper deficiency in-utero, it causes the progressive degenerative spinal cord problems that I’ve been witnessing. [3]

a healthy Giselle

Now the question is what to do.  I know there is a shot or a bolus we can give, and the immediate treatment of all the goats (but especially the pregnant ones) is our first priority.  In addition, the vet is checking to see if we can do anything for the kids who are showing signs of the degenerative effects. [4]  Again, this is something that is not heard of in my area, so the Iowa State vet referred my vet to another Iowa State vet. The phone tag is a bit unnerving.  It’s important to make sure we dose them correctly, though, because too much copper can be toxic.

a healthy Zeus

Once we get the immediate crisis taken care of (because I think the whole herd really is at a critical point), I’m also looking at a long-term plan to fix the problem.

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