Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Free-Choice, Force Fed, or Both?

I was recently asked to compute an oral daily dose of ABC’s ‘Cu-Mix’, a product formulated for free-choice oral use. A small group of young goats had been diagnosed with signs of copper deficiency. The client wanted to supplement her planned free-choice feeding of Cu-Mix with an oral dose of the same product to insure adequacy.

     Whoa! Back up the truck!
              That’s a really bad idea.
                        Here’s why!

  • Force feeding the product is an off-label use and not recommended. Veterinarians may override this restriction but in so doing assume liability.
  • Free-choice feeding AND force-feeding the same product negates the very essence of the cafeteria-style concept as it eliminated the animal’s opportunity to exercise its innate nutritional wisdom.
  • At certain levels, copper can be toxic. In a previous age of veterinary medicine we used an oral, liquid dose of a mixture of copper sulfate and nicotine sulfate it as a wormer for ruminants. Dosage was related to body weight. There was a fine line between  killing the worms or the host animal. Force feeding potentially toxic minerals of and kind is never wise.

If you want to reap the benefits of cafeteria-style mineral feeding, you have to do it right — minerals are team players, so play the entire team. It doesn’t make make much sense to have only one player on a basketball court and it makes even less sense to only provide a source of copper, for example, in a mineral program.

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