Doc’s Blog

Iodine Deficiency in Goats?

 A goat owner said to me:  “This kidding season, the newborn buck kids were unusually large while the doe kids were unusually small.   I have  heard that this could be caused by a deficiency of iodine.  Have youl ever heard of anything like that?"  I had not.  

     But, I did some internet browsing and checked a couple of books on goat medicine, and could find nothing on sex related birth size disparity in newborn kids. 

     Ater reporting this to the goat keeper, she sent me a reprint entitled, “RECORDS OF NUTRITIONAL FACTORS IN FERTILITY OF GOATS” — posted to my blog site as

     This paper summarized over a decade of fertility records in  an Australian goat herd from the late 1960’s and 1970’s.  The herd experienced the same size disparity in newborn buck and doe kids as stated in the original question. 

     The problems were apparently associated with feeding clover or alfalfa hay along with a mineral supplement containing a generous limestone base.    It was thought the phyto-estrogens in the legume hay (containing goitrogens which depress the production of the hormone thyroxin)  along with the high calcium content of the hay and mineral limited the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland.

      The elimination of clover hay and ground limestone from the diet resulted in a remarkable improvement in fertility but the sex ratios still favored males 1.4 to 1. This ratio was improved when iodized salt and copper-cobalt licks were offered.  

      Classic signs of Iodine deficiency in newborn goats are being born dead, abnormal hair coat, and enlarged thyroid glands, located in the throat area — goiter.  Since this lady’s goats showed none of these signs, I doubt if an iodine deficiency was involved. 

     Some folks recommend giving oral doses of Lugol’s iodine as a  supplement.  I think this is a bad idea.  It is difficult to know the exact amount needed by individual animals.  Force feeding could lead to an excess of iodine, which can also cause thyroid gland problems. 


     If you suspect your animals are low on iodine and need a supplement,  you could provide a free  - choice source of iodized salt AND a free-choice source of regular white salt.  This allows animals to match their individual needs without  over-loading them.

     In the last analysis, the best plan is to provide a full-course, cafeteria-style  mineral feeding program. 

Another Week-end Quote

Animal Intelligence

There currently seems to be a lot of interest in animal intelligence or consciousness.  Recently, a friend asked me which animal I thought was the smartest.  My first thought was primates and then possibly elephants —  but, since my only experience was with domestic animals, I opined that the pig was the smartest.

     I am not an expert on animal behavior nor to I know to scientifically rate their intelligence.  I’m sure there are many ways to do this. I suppose one could compare their activities  and reactions to humans. But, if we did that it would only be fair to examine   our 0wn ability  to function in a pig’s world

    Then too, we could rate animal intelligence on how well they integrated with their environment and society — finding food, reproduction, social structure etc.   But that has would be highly subjective.

    Their ability to communicate within their species, as well as with other species (including humans) would be an important factor. 

    Having said all that, I don’t know why I chose pigs.  Pigs have an undeserved reputation as being a dirty animal (mostly when raised in close confinement). Pigs do not sweat and a cool mud-bath on a warm day protects them from dehydration and sunburn. Pigs are cute, alert and exhibit many  many different personalities. I believe that a face-to-face, look-me-in-the-eye  involvement  with any animal will provide insights into an animal’s basic persona. Try it sometime.

    Going back to my choice of the pig as the most intelligent domestic animal, consider this. 

     Given the choice, most animals will select feedstuffs and minerals conducive to good health — but, given a choice, many humans will choose to eat junk food or Franken-food.

    Given the opportunity, a pig will usually not soil its sleeping or eating areas with feces — but, given the opportunity, humans poison their fields and food with toxic chemicals - all for the profit of BigPharma. 

It begs the question;  “Are humans as smart as pigs?.”


Minerals for Multiple Species

A fellow who grazes several species together,— cattle, horses, sheep, goats, llama, and swine — recently asked me if a cafeteria-style mineral feeding program was feasible for that many different species.  I told him  as far a the minerals themselves were concerned, there was no problem.  All those species do well on a full array, self-select mineral program. 

That being said, I told him I wasn’t  sure how the delivery system would work.  Some things to consider.

  • Species compatibility.  Animals tend to congregate at mineral feeders. More aggressive species (or individual animals) may interfere with other animals having full access to the minerals. 
  • A basic feeder may not be easily accessible to all species, thus requiring other feeders of different design. 
  • Hogs tend to be messy eaters. Other species may not wish to eat at the same table. 
  • I would appreciate feed back from anyone who tries this or who already does this.