Those of you have been following along a while know that I have been struggling with copper levels in my goats and sheep.  We have high molybdenum as well as sulphur and iron in our soil and water, all of which interfere with copper absorption.  With the goats I had tried the highest copper mineral salts available in the US, and I was still having serious copper deficiency issues.  I had been able to fix my goat copper problems finally with Multi Min (injectable trace element supplement supplying zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium)

, but then the liver zinc levels were too high.  So with the goats I have been using Copasure (copper oxide particles) boluses broken down into 2.5 gram capsules twice per year.  I have not had the opportunity to recheck a liver copper level in the goats since then because they are doing so well.


But with the sheep we had butchered some yearling rams in 2009 and submitted a liver for analysis. The copper levels came back at 6.5 with deficient in a sheep being <4.  I tried increasing the copper in their mineral salt by mixing 1/10th goat and the rest sheep, but the copper levels the next year dropped to 5.1.  So then I purchased Cosecure (cobalt, selenium and copper) lamb boluses from the UK and administered them to our flock last spring.  This year’s liver analysis above shows a level of 7.6.  It is certainly improved with this.  I had not noticed any health effects from the borderline copper levels except there was some white banding on a couple of my fleeces from last spring’s shearing.

It was 90 pounds for 50 of these boluses which is quite expensive compared to $40 for 125 of the goat doses.  I will have to make calculations to compare the copper dosage for each.  But the research done in the UK on copper deficiency is that the problem is actually more thiomolybdate toxicity rather than true copper deficiency and so that is why the cobalt is needed with the copper to improve the sheep’s health.  So now I need to decide if I wish to continue to use these expensive but proven sheep boluses or experiment with cheaper pure copper goat boluses.  Any thoughts?

This entry was posted in Farm. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Copper

  1. Chai Chai says:

    Most of this is beyond my limited knowledge but I can’t wait to see what others have to say. Should I be getting a soil sample from my county extension office?

  2. I can’t wait either. It is always a good idea to have soil and forage tests done. Having said that though, I haven’t but am depending on the results of my vet’s whose animals were across the road.

  3. Laura says:

    I had a friend in the Reno area who had the same problem with her Cashmere goats. They had unusually high molybdenum levels in their water. They lost a number of goats before getting a handle (sort of) on it. She ended up selling the property, because it was just too toxic (human and animals drank the same water).

    They did the copper/selenium injections, which seemed to help. I think the boluses would be slightly easier, but maybe not as sure a delivery as the injectable.

    You’re right, the banding on the fleeces was a copper deficiency. Fortunately, it doesn’t create a weak spot, and spinners always seem to like the “unique” fleeces!!

    Good luck on your Quest – it’s a tough one.

  4. Teresa says:

    Good luck. I don’t know anything about this. I am lucky enough to live in an area that is pretty good for goats just naturally.

  5. sheepsclothing says:

    thanks for sharing your test results. If you think you’ll give the boluses again this year, I’d like to go in on an order with you. That article about the thiomolybdate toxicity was really interesting.

  6. Franna says:

    Interesting! When WSU analysed our sheep livers (6 and 8? ppm) they said that “normal” should be in the 20’s. I’ve been feeding higher copper (30 to 50ppm) mineral and sweet feed and saw a big improvement. I think especially the lambs are still being affected, though. I might be interested in the boluses, too, though I have a TERRIBLE time giving them to the sheep! Copper oxide threads are supposed to help eliminate barberpole worm, too.

    PS. FABULOUS Kitchen – Wow!

    • You can see on the report normal is 16 but I have another report that deficient is <4. The mineral mixture I tried with the sheep was about 16 ppm and it did not touch them. Getting these rather large boluses down was hard but I used a metal cow bolus device that worked well. I did find 2 on the ground later and not sure who they came from. Do you know of copper oxide dosing recommendations or studies on sheep?
      Thanks for the compliment on the kitchen!

Leave a Reply