WHY GOATS EAT DIRT? DICUSSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS
Goats are pretty creatures. They need well-balanced nutrition to stay healthy and active. Goats are considered as ‘browsers’ when it comes to their mode of nutrition. They love to eat leaves, shrubs, vines, and twigs. There are many medical conditions that affect the behavior and overall well being of goats. Some goat owners show curiosity to know why their goats are eating dirt? Is it normal If a goat is eating dirt? What are the different risks and factors associated with eating dirt in goats?
Here, we will discuss this subject matter in detail under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.
WHAT ARE IMPORTANT CONSITUENTS OF A GOAT’S DIET?
Nutritional requirement varies from breed to breed, physical activity, purpose, environment and other factors. Generally, goats need a variety of macro and micro nutrients such as water, protein, carbohydrate, fats and optimum quantities of vitamins and minerals for their reproduction, maintenance, growth, pregnancy and production of other products such as milk and meat etc.
These all components must be present in significant quantities in the diet of your goat.
WHY GOAT EAT DIRT?
Sometimes, owners observe their goats eating/licking dirt, dust and sand.
Remember, condition of eating inanimate things (non edible) is called pica.
Eating dirt can be a sign of mineral deficiency. But this abnormal condition could also be due to any underlying parasitic infestation or disease. Mostly sodium and copper deficiencies are correlated with dirt eating in goats.
In addition to that, other minerals such as selenium, zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, manganese, and sodium are also very crucial for the good health of your goat.
Dirt and grit are undesirable and get stuck in the throat of goats when they regurgitate the cud. So, this abnormal behavior puts owners in a worrisome situation.
WHY IT IS NECESSARY TO CALCULATE MINERALS IN GOAT’S DIET?
This is a good idea to have a thorough analysis of the diet which is offering your goat. The goat diet must be formulated under expert veterinary nutritionists or from authentic feed manufacturers.
You must have sufficient knowledge about the daily mineral requirements of your goat (physiological stage) should be in your mind. It is also recommended to look at whether your goat’s diet is providing her all the necessary minerals or a few minerals missing at all.
A few months back, one of my friend’s goats was not eating anything. He observed that his goat was continuously licking/eating dirt from past few days. After consulting with his veterinarian, he came to know that, the diet he is presenting to his goat was not enriched with the required mineral contents; neither was he offering her any mineral supplement. His vet recommended him to provide mineral blocks (free of choice) to his goats. A few days later, he observed a positive change in the behavior of his goat.
Being a responsible owner, this is necessary to keep an eye on the behavior of your goat and its nutrition.
DO NATURAL DIETS CONTAIN ALL NECESSAY MINERALS?
Not at all, natural diets are not always enriched with all essentials nutrients especially minerals which are required by the goat for overall wellness. So, it is wise to take guidelines from an animal nutritionist and add recommended supplements in optimum quantities to prevent any undesirable condition afterward.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION OF DIRT EATING?
BALANCED DIET HEALTHY GOAT
It is better to take precautionary measures and figure out the actual cause of dirt eating. If you suspect this behavior in your goat, then report it to your vet. He would thoroughly analyze the situation. Be clear while telling him the diet history (a diet which is offering to you goat) to him.
Additionally, change the diet (if it is mineral deficit) or go for additional mineral supplements such as mineral blocks, or commercially available mineral mixtures
NOTE: Change in the diet must be gradual, and before using any manufactured mineral supplements, contact your vet or take guidelines from an expert animal nutritionist.
Ensure the supply sufficient amount of minerals along with plenty of water.
NOTE: Excessive mineral intake can cause toxicity or other health complications. Only the calculated/requirement amount is beneficial.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF AFTER GETTING MINERALS YOUR GOAT IS EATING DIRT?
This usually happens with most of the goat owners. They complain that their goats are continuously showing the behavior of dirt eating, even if they are getting optimum quantities of minerals and other nutrients. Remember, owners must be clear with this thing that eating dirt is a multifactorial phenomenon. There can be a number of reasons behind this filthy behavior.
Mineral deficiency of one of the major contributing factors. Other causes may be any parasitic infestation or something bad is happening with their intestines. Boredom and also indigestion can add to their desire to eat dirt.
Especially, this happens in kids. It is recommended that you should give your goat probiotics (beneficial bacteria). Moreover, your vet can help you in diagnosing the actual cause of dirt-eating. Plus, he can suggest a number of precautions and medications accordingly.
There are many reasons that can cause goats to eat dirt. This is very important for goat owners to figure out the exact reason for this bad habit to prevent their beloved goats landing into further complications. All along with that, this is highly advisable to take care of the proper nutrition of goat. Remember, nutrition management must be on the top priority of a goat owner. A good diet prevents many complications in goat and guarantees a healthy life. Last but not least, stay in touch with your veterinarian.
|Tennessee Meat Goat|
BLOOD D.C., RADOSTITS O.M.: Veterinary Medicine. A Textbook of the diseases of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and horses, BLOOD D.C. and RADOSTITS O.M. (eds), 7th Edition. Baillerie Tindall London, 1989, pp.: 1152-1184.
SMITH O.B., AKINBAMIJO O.O.: Micronutrients and reproduction in farm animals. Anim. Reprod. Sci., 2000, 60-61, 549-560.
Liu, Z.P., Ma, Z., Zhang, Y.J., Zhao, Z.L. and Wu, W.Q., 1992. The research about blood and hair trace elements of healthy sheep and goats. Journal of Gansu Agricultural University, 27, 190-19
KEY WORDS (PICA) (GOAT NUTRITION) (GOAT HEALTH) ( MINERAL TOXICITY) (GOAT DISEASES)