Goiter in Goats

When an animal does not get enough iodine in its diet; it develops a disease condition known as goiter. The goiter or swelling of the thyroid gland is caused by the thyroid gland enlarging as it tries to produce the thyroid hormones needed by the animal. Thyroid hormones, T3 and T4 and are very important for maintaining control over metabolism. Shortages or excesses of T3 or T4 has very pronounced effects of the affected animal. The thyroid gland is located in the throat area (Adam's apple) of goats.

Soils in Western Canada are deficient in iodine, so forage and grain grown here are deficient in iodine. To prevent goiter in livestock and people, salt is fortified with iodine (iodized). Iodized salt is necessary to prevent goiter. It is possible to buy iodized salt, cobalt-iodized salt and fortified trace mineral salt. Make sure that any salt you buy for your goats has iodine as an ingredient on the feed tag.

Salt intake will depend on whether there is any other source of salt available to the goats. If you are feeding a mineral mix that contains salt then the goats may not eat salt. Try to only offer one source of salt to the goats. This is one way of force feeding minerals. Sheep will eat the salt mineral mix to get salt. The salt mineral mix should contain iodine and there should be no problems with goiter. Sometime water can be is high in sodium, and this can reduce salt intake.

The bottom line is this, make sure to offer your goats a salt product that is iodized and make sure the goats are eating it. Intake is critical; the best product in the world is not doing you any good if your goats will not eat it!

Prepared by: Rob Berry, Dairy Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development