Copper Bolus Your Goats With Confidence
The spring and summer of 2020 was a learning year for us on our little homestead.
This was when we discovered the importance of minerals and goats. It took us several months to correct our herd’s mineral deficiencies and a lot of waiting and wondering if we were on the right track.
Read all about our journey by clicking the image below. (Bonus: there a free printable over there!)
If you find yourself in the same place I was, you might be wondering,
“How do I get this copper in them?”
The trick with giving a copper bolus, is that your goat can’t chew it. You have to get the entire contents into their stomach without them chewing it up first. The delayed release of the copper is what you need to keep them healthy.
Sounds tricky, but we are smarter than our goats!
I will show you a few tricks that I used to get the copper bolus into them without a huge fuss.
What even is a copper bolus?
Before we begin, let’s take a closer look at the actual copper bolus.
It comes in a capsule, like the picture below. Depending on what dosage you buy, there could be any amount in the capsule. We bought 4 grams capsules, so this has 4 grams of copper inside each capsule.
When you open up the capsule, the copper looks like this.
There are tiny rods of copper. These need to sit in your goat’s stomach and be slowly released over time to keep their copper levels maintained.
You can break open the capsules and give the goats a more exact amount based on their weight. This is what I did.
Copper bolus dosage
The general recommended dosage among goat keepers is 1 gram per 22 lbs. This is not official and not according to the package directions of my brand of copper.
However, among veteran goat keepers, this is what they are doing and recommend. This is what I did, with great success, so am also recommending it here.
If you are unsure, please contact your veterinarian and see what they recommend. I am not a vet and cannot give medical advice for your particular situation.
We bolused our goats twice over the spring and summer: once in May and once in July.
In May our dosing went like this:
Daisy: 155 lbs, 1 ¾ pills
Maple: 101 lbs, 1 pill
Holly: 130 lbs, 1 ½ pills
Violet: 105 lbs, 1 pill
This dosing was based on weight only, using the 1 gram per 22 lbs rule. I weighed them with a measuring tape, using this chart.
Two months later, we had significant improvement. Violet and Daisy had shiny coats and weight gain in Violet. Their discoloration was almost completely gone. For these reasons, I gave them less copper.
Holly’s coat was still rough and discolored and Maple still had her fish tail and dull coat. For these reasons, they received the same amount as in May.
I only went off how each goat was looking and not weight.
In July, this is how we dosed:
Daisy: 150 lbs, ½ pill
Maple: 110 lbs, 1 pill
Holly: 140 lbs, 1 ½ pills
Violet: 110 lbs, ½ pill
Now, in October, they are all shiny, discoloration is gone and fish tails are gone. Nobody received any copper this month.
Copper poisoning is a real issue, so I am trying to be very careful between balancing my herd’s needs and not causing more problems with overdosing. For a more thorough explanation of what my herd went through and how I diagnosed their mineral deficiencies, please read this post.
How to give a copper bolus
You can give a copper bolus many ways, but the main thing to keep in mind, is they can’t chew the rods. Many people use a bolus gun and just shoot it down their throats.
We try to not spend more money than we have to, so we found a more frugal way to get them to take it—fig newtons.
I measured out the copper rods according to their needs, as discussed above. Then I cut the fig newton in half, lengthwise, to make a copper newton sandwich.
I poured the rods into the sticky center and pushed them down so they stayed inside the middle. For the goats that got more copper, I had to make two sandwiches, because the rods wouldn’t stick if there were too many of them.
Two of my goats like the fig newton sandwiches. They ate it in one “bite,” swallowing the entire thing whole! They loved them and asked for more.
My other two goats were a little more suspicious.
So, I mixed the copper rods in with some molasses and made a ball.
I then rolled the ball in some black oil sunflower seeds.
One of the remaining two goats swallowed this with no problem and loved it!
But I still had my last goat, who wouldn’t take any of this. We finally ended up just shoving the whole capsule down her throat.
With two of us holding her, we placed the capsule as far back as we could in her mouth/throat, held her head up a little to force her to swallow it, then massaged her neck/throat as it went down. She didn’t like this too much, but it wasn’t very traumatic, either.
Giving your goats a copper bolus doesn’t have to be scary. I was a little intimidated at first, but it really is no big deal.
I hope these ideas have helped you be a little more confident in giving your goats their copper bolus.
Thank you for being here and I really do hope you were served in some way!