Salt in Angora GoatsMonday, 15th April 2019
By Dr Mackie Hobson
Goats have a natural appetite for salt and will be attracted to sources of salt or even water with a high salt content. Generally the salt content of water in the karoo is high.
Farmers in the Karoo may have noticed that the condition, appetite and use of the veld during times of drought (when having to feed their Angora goats) improved after putting out a salt lick.
The likely reason is that under drought conditions when fibre availability is reduced, and goats are fed more concentrate, the pH of the rumen is lower and so not as efficient.
The Sodium (Na) part of NaCL (Salt) is recycled via the goats saliva and acts as a buffer against the lowered rumen pH. The improved pH produced by the buffering effect results in increased time ruminating. This leads to better digestion by the rumen bacteria and is reflected in the appetite and condition of the goats.
Sodium (Na) apart from the buffering effect of a low rumen pH also has other important roles which include:
- The absorption of amino acids, glucose and water
- Nerve function and temperature regulation.
- Regulates the body pH and water retention.
.In goats, there are very few studies done on salt requirements .One of the few studies was performed by Schneller (1972, 1973) and he found that 1.7 g Na/kg DM was sufficient, while 0.3 g Na/kg DM was deficient
The signs of Sodium deficiency in animals are not clear. Often, they show poor appetite, decreased weight gain. The abnormal appetite for salt through licking and eating soil or other abnormal materials will be seen in cases of salt deficiency.
Chloride (Cl) as part of salt (NaCl) is also important in the absorption of amino acids and minerals as well as the digestion of protein. The role it plays in digestion is it activates the digestive and forms part of the HCl (hydrochloric acid). Chloride deficiency does not occur in goats.
It is also important to remember the role of salt in preventing and reducing the formation or urinary stones or crystals goat rams or ‘Kapaters’ in feed kraals. Clean cool water along with a salt lick will stimulate water intake and dilute the urine so helping to reduce stone formation.