Goats need a lot of copper, and the ones living in Arizona tend to be deficient. One of the most popular ways of administering extra copper is bolusing. Pat Coleby followers like to use Copper Sulfate which you can find at Home Depot or any type store along the same line. It is commonly used as root killer. I know many folks use it straight and their goats eat the blue crystals greedily, but I am 1) uncomfortable with this and 2) have actually offered the crystals to the goats and they won’t have anything to do with them.
Irene Ramsay has a method where she uses the Copper Sulfate diluted with water, and drenches the goats for a number of days. Eventually I plan to detail that method here.
In the meantime, we have been using Copasure for our copper supplement. See below for pictures which indicate copper deficiency in one of our does.
I have to say it’s my least favorite chore when it comes to the goats (yes, even disbudding since that’s only ONE time in their lives, lasts about 2 minutes total and you’re done forever!). They hate swallowing the boluses, they fight me and spit them out, chew them — it’s just a very physical job which I dread. Sometimes I get lucky on the second try and down it goes. More often than not I end up trying more times and sometimes have to use a second bolus (prepared especially for this possibility). I’ve yet to get the bolus into them on the first try. Once I even thought I had the bolus into our herd sire and went all the way into the house only to discover the bolus was STILL in the drenching gun!!
The Saanendoah site has a huge amount of information with regard to copper deficiency, you will definitely want to read more about it there.
The copper rods lose their effect after 4-5 months, so bolusing should technically be done at least every five months.
Here are the supplies we use for copper bolusing:
Copasure Bolus 12.5gm
As you can see, the bolus is very close to the size of a AA battery. Just about the same diameter and a bit shorter.
We purchased ours from Valley Vet $30.95 plus $5.00 handling (if your order is under $50), free shipping, no tax for Arizona. This container included a black nipple which holds the bolus so you can administer it with a drenching gun.
Image shows the drench gun tip with the black nipple attached and the bolus inserted into the black nipple.
From Valley Vet. We bought this drenching gun to administer fluids and other medicines. $11.99.
“13″ Gelatin Caps
From Valley Vet. 100 capsules in the pack. $12.15.
Item 17377. Gelatin Capsules
1 1/4″X1/2″ 1/8 oz
“000″ Gelatin Caps
Found these at www.iherb.com. We bought some smaller caps for the smaller goats. We have one Nigerian Dwarf buck and I can’t imagine trying to get him to swallow the “13″ capsules. $10.00 for 200 capsules, plus $4.00 s/h. If you find a better deal, let me know so I can post it here!
Postage Hanging Scale
I found this one on eBay $4.95 with free shipping on a Buy It Now auction. It weighs up to 100 grams, but of course I need it for weighing much less. Try using these keywords at eBay:
hanging pocket scale gram -digital
In the beginning we broke open the 12.5 gram bolus of Copasure, lined up the rods and divided them up into portions which we thought were appropriate. The dosing amount is 1 gram rods per 22 pounds of goat. So one of our does needed 6 grams Copasure. Take a bolus, open it and dump it out into a line. Divide the line of rods into half. Scoop that half back into the empty capsule. Cap it. Another of our does needs 8 grams Copasure, so I split the line of rods into 3 portions. Scooped 2 portions back into the empty capsule.
Also here are some measurements using smaller sized gelcaps:
4g – for 80-90# animals (Fill large half of #000 cap full, plus pinch or two in small half)
3.125g – for 60-70# animals (Fill large half of #000 cap to 1/8″ below top)
2.5g – for 50# animals (Fill large half of #00 cap)
2.08g – for 40-45# animals (Fill to 3/8″ below top of large half of #00 cap)
1.78g – for 35-40# animals (Fill to very top of large half of #0 cap)
1.56g – for 30-35# animals (Fill almost to top of large half of #0 cap)
1.25g – for 20-30# animals (Fill to top of large half of #1 cap)
.78g – for 15-20# animals (Fill to 1/4″ below top of large half of #1 cap)
.63g – for 10-15# animals (Fill almost to top of large half of #3 cap)
I finally decided for $5.00 I’d invest in a gram scale.
Find out how much each goat needs by taking a tape measure of the “heart girth” of the goat. Fiasco Farm gives a chart and explanation of how to take the measurement.
So you find your goat weighs 100 pounds. Take 100 and divide it by 22, which gives you 4.5 grams of rods for this goat. A 150 pound goat would need 6.8 grams (you can just round that up to 7 grams). I make up the boluses, write the goat’s name on a sandwich bag so I don’t lose track of which bolus belongs to who. I wonder how many hits I’m going to get on this page with people looking for ways to weigh and store illegal drugs with all this talk of baggies and grams and such? :-&
As I mentioned earlier, you may want to make up at least two boluses per goat, as they will fight and spit out the boluses. After one or two times spitting them out, I just rinse them off and try to get them back down into the goat, but after 3-4 times of trying the capsule begins to disintegrate and you have to use a new one. In the past, I only made up one bolus and ended up going all the way back into the house to make up a new one.
The bolus begins to disintegrate if you are using the drenching gun, as you are sucking up some water into the gun first, then putting the capsule in place. The theory is that when you squeeze the water into the goat’s mouth, they automatically swallow and then the capsule goes right down, easy! NOT. At least not for me, usually. According to the Saanendoah site I mentioned above, you should not allow the goats to chew the rods if you can help it. They may break open a capsule and you will have no choice in the matter, but don’t get the idea you can top-dress their daily ration as this will alter the rods (I take this would not be a good thing).
I suppose if your goat has a favorite treat that you know they swallow whole, you could bury the rods in that. One person mentioned dosing up a marshmallow. Another claims she pours the rods into corn syrup in a syringe and the goats suck it right down.
I hope this has helped you with using the Copasure bolus.
This doe is black with white spots. You can see the hair on her flank is beginning to fade and turn reddish. Once she receives copper, the hair will turn black like the rest of her.
Also, another indicator of low copper is the tail begins to lose the hair at the tip. The hair splits out away from the bald spot.
Here is a picture of one of our does that had faded hair on the flank.
Originally written 6-13-05