Mineral deficiency? Or is it toxicity?
We had a rough kidding season here at Goat-O-Rama. Every single mama needed help delivering. All four kids born to Jezebel and Delilah had one or both legs back, and both does had a hard time pushing them out. Nubbin had a breech baby and a baby with both legs back. The third came out normally all by himself, but he was the ONLY one properly presented out of eight kids delivered this season. Tigerlily's kid was the worst of all. His head was so far back his nose was touching his tail and he had no legs presented at all. The only thing I felt going in was a hairy little shoulder. He didn't make it, poor thing. Four out of seven kids had crooked legs when they were born--two so severely they had to be splinted for a day. Luckily everyone has straightened out as they've grown. 

These crooked legs, malpresentations, and other birthing difficulties all point to selenium deficiency. We also have very obvious copper deficiency which started back in early April. I got right on it and gave everyone a copper bolus (some got two), and it did absolutely nothing at all. In fact, all the goats got worse as spring progressed. In looking at the mineral content of our soil, there is absolutely no reason why we should ever be copper or especially selenium deficient! Selenium poisoning is common in my area as we have some of the highest selenium content in the country around here. Everything points to selenium deficiency, but it cannot be due to lack of access, and same with copper. We feed a good loose mineral, but even without it our pasture should provide adequate minerals to keep the goats healthier than what we experienced. 

I decided it can't be a proper deficiency because we have everything here they need. It has to be caused by something blocking the goats' uptake of these minerals. I did more research and discovered molybdenum poisoning. Our soil has very high molybdenum content. I also fed a lot more alfalfa this past winter than I've ever fed, and alfalfa tends to be high in molybdenum. Legumes such as alfalfa absorb a lot more molybdenum from the soil than grasses, and if grown in a high-molybdenum area like ours we could end up feeding toxic levels of it. Molybdenum binds with copper and selenium in the digestive tract and prevents those minerals from being absorbed, resulting in "secondary" copper and selenium deficiency. So by feeding a high quality alfalfa all winter, I inadvertently set my goats up for molybdenum poisoning. Since I'm sure our own soil contains a lot of molybdenum as well, my goats had no way to avoid eating it even after I stopped feeding alfalfa this spring. I'm going to switch back to grass hay this winter and feed alfalfa more sparingly and see what happens. 

Here are a couple of articles about molybdenum and how it creates copper deficiency. They don't really discuss selenium, but I believe it can be blocked by excess molybdenum as well.  

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Mineral deficiency? Or is it toxicity? - by Nanno - 06-06-2017, 01:11 PM

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