Many Goat farmers do not realize unwittingly sabotage their mineral supplement efforts by giving salt blocks in addition to loose mineral supplements or mineral blocks. For many years now we have always been brainwashed advised to provide salt blocks to our Goats. These day complete mineral and vitamin supplement products that are specifically designed for goats already contain salt.
Consumption of mineral supplements is regulated by several different factors like salt content, the hardness, molasses content, and other factors. The salt is added to the mineral mix not only to meet the salt needs of the Goat, but also to mask other awful bad tasting ingredients and to maintain proper consumption. As an example, Magnesium Oxide taste terrible is very unpalatable to Goats so salt along with other ingredients is added to hide mask the unpleasant taste. Although salt is added to the mineral mix to encourage consumption, it is also added to limit consumption.
What does this have to do with salt blocks? When salt blocks are provided along with a complete mineral supplement, Goats may get all of their salt from the salt blocks and consume none of the trace mineral supplement or they will consume some of both. While they do get some mineral supplement in this instance, they usually will not receive as much as they need. When you buy a mineral supplement, you will find a set of feeding instructions on the label. The desired consumption rate listed on the label is the rate that is formulated to deliver the full compliment of mineral supplement. For example, if the desired consumption of a mineral is 1 oz. per head per day, the presence of salt blocks may decrease consumption of this mineral to 0.5 oz per head per day. Let’s also say that this mineral is designed to deliver 100% of the daily-recommended allowances for trace minerals. In this case, the goats would have only half of their trace mineral needs met by this feeding scenario and in time could develop mineral deficiencies, especially in Selenium.
In all cases, it is important that you read and follow the label directions for any Goat supplement. NEVER provide additional sources of salt to Goats receiving trace mineral supplements unless the product label specifically instructs you to do so.
The cost of a good complete mineral supplement represents a significant cost in Goat production. You are investing your hard earned money with the knowledge that your investment will pay off in an improved herd health and increased productivity. To add salt blocks that decrease the effectiveness of your complete mineral supplement significantly decreases the value of your investment.
No matter what mineral supplement you choose to purchase and utilize, protect your investment dollars by reading and following the label feeding directions. Avoid wasting money and effort allowing goat access to salt blocks unless the mineral supplement specifically states to do so.