Supplements – Kelp

There is a diversity of opinions on Kelp as a livestock supplement. Some breeders swear by it and others will warn you away from it. Lets look at some of the pros and cons of Kelp as a supplement for your goats.

Why feed Kelp to your goats

Kelp is reputed to:

  • Be an excellent source of iodine which helps regulate metabolism.
  • Support and strengthen the immune system
  • Assist with weight gain.
  • Better health, less breeding issues
  • Improve milk production
  • Increase the production of butterfat
  • Reduce Mastitis
Recent studies have shown Kelp to have Probiotic properties and the benefits of probiotics on humans is no different in our goats.

About kelp

Kelp (Durvillea potatorum) is a large brown seaweed mostly collected from the West Coast of Tasmania, King Island in the Bass Straight and the waters of Queensland.  Once collected the kelp is washed of salt, hung up to dry, then chopped and milled to produce either a granule or meal. It contains no additives or preservatives and does not undergo any further processing. Simply it is chopped dried Kelp.

Dried Kelp contains over 70 different mineral elements, including every known essential trace element required for plant growth. Kelp also includes simple and complex carbohydrates, proteins and a number of plant growth hormones. 

The following analysis is an 
average concentration (%w/v) taken from numerous readings of Dried Kelp\

Concerns about feeding kelp

Some people are worried about the high concentration of Iron and it’s ability to bind with copper and cause copper deficiency.  There is no evidence of this in studies conducted thus far on Kelp consumed by livestock. 

Another concern is the Salt levels.  The concern here is that the salt in Kelp with cause a reduction in other mineral intake. Quite simply the amount of salt in Kelp is minute compared to the salt in many goat mineral mixes and blocks and would not be enough to discourage other mineral sources. 
It doesn’t affect their consumption of other minerals because Kelp is a salty food, with a distinctive flavour, not salt.  It is said to been proven by research that goats and sheep will consume foods that contain specific nutrients in order to correct any deficiencies, which they do based on taste.  When things taste different they associate a particular taste with a particular nutrient they need and consume it to correct the deficiency.

How do you feed kelp to goats?

Kelp is a mineral and as such should be treated just the same as you do other minerals.  The most common way is to put it out free choice but it’s not cheap and I personally find my goats love it and consumed more than most pockets could bear so I switched to mixing it in with their feed.  I have yet to come across a goat that has not devoured Kelp but there has to be some fussy eaters out there that may take a while to get used to the taste. 

Properties and practices differ

Every supplement will not necessarily be right for every breeder.  The benefits of supplements for your herd will depend on the soil composition on your property and your feed and supplementation regime.  Adding Kelp may make the world of difference to your herd or very little.

Kelp is something that I personally attribute as a factor in my goats health and feel that the investment is well worth it.  It’s something to consider to see if it might  work for you too! 

Disclaimer: The information and products offered or suggested on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please make sure your veterinarian is aware of any vitamins or minerals you are giving your animals.