- Oct 16, 2010
- Reaction score
- Virginia is for Pasture Farmers!
I used to worry more about copper in my goats than in my sheep. At one time every goat breeder was almost hysterical about copper levels and were adding copper to their feed, even copper boluses. I did not do that even though I was warned by others that I could lose my entire herd if I didn't. My milk yields were very high and consistent, we were on test, It would have been noticed in yield levels,
When we got to a large number of milkers (15-20) I started buying grain in bulk. I could only get dairy cattle grain which has a slightly higher amount of copper. The goats did very well. We never gave any of that grain to our sheep.
I don't worry about any copper levels in grazing or browsing sheep. If sheep ingested too much copper from browsing or grazing they would long go have died out to only the hardy copper resistant ones. Generations of shepherds have existed by simply allowing their sheep to graze and browse with no harm. Grazers eat pasture grass, but a lot of us that have Dorpers or Katahdins have sheep that genetically are wired to browse. Browsers rarely eat too much on any one plant since they wander further and eat different plants rather than consistently only one variety. Unless your pasture is depleted to nothing except high copper plants, I would not worry about too much copper. If you want your sheep to have copper, use a good sheep formulated grain. These are manufactured with a certain amount of copper since life cannot exist without some form of copper. There are minimal problems with copper levels in graze or browse, it is only when humans begin managing what goes into their diets that we are starting to see copper overdoses through feeding the wrong supplements.
I have White Dorpers. Recently I read that Dorpers have a higher tolerance to copper. I had bought loose minerals that required 100 lbs. of salt with which to be mixed before offering to the sheep. I can't find any loose livestock salt within 50 miles! Next time I travel out of the area I will check for loose salt at Tractor Supply or a livestock feed supply. In the meantime, I had a new 50 lb. mineral salt block in our Connex container. (I took all of them out of the horse pasture and substituted white salt block since the sheep run there too.) I went ahead and put out the red mineral block and the sheep immediately began licking and biting on it. That was last year and no one has keeled over yet. This year I put other red mineral salt blocks in each of the pens including the creep pen. They are doing fine. I do need to find some loose salt though since I think they would eat more salt if available in loose form.
While I check new feed that is not specifically for sheep for copper amounts before buying it, I no longer stress about copper levels.,
I think all sheep and horses are browsers, at least, mine all eat everything green, not just grass. Lol.
The blocks, just use a hammer and turn it into loose salt. That's what I do with the selenium green blocks. I chisel off a section, hammer it & put it into bowls.
TSC carries loose white salt. They can also order it in if need be. Read the bag before accepting it, as the employees haven't a clue if you ask them. You can also buy the plain 50# salt blocks and break them apart, if need be.