Iodine and Goiter

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

Sometimes, lambs are born with swelling or nodules in their throat area. They also may have short hair or wool and are usually weak if not dead and struggle to stand. There is a simple solution, Just provide adequate iodine in the ewes ration. Sounds simple and it is, but solutions like feeding iodized salt don’t always work.

A couple falls ago we had a problem in our own flock. They had been provided with loose white iodized salt all summer. In order for salt to be free choice it has to be available. But checking records consumption was equal to other years. The query also reported above average rain fall and lush pastures. It isn’t so much the watery content of the grass as it is the lack of dirt in the foliage as the result of rapid growth and frequent rains. Dirt seems to be more of a natural source than the vegetation.

Our lambs if alive responded to organic iodide. We had lambs that were given a teaspoon of organic iodide that we then tubed for two days until they were able to stand and nurse, and several of them went to market. This condition is strictly a deficiency and providing iodine quickly corrects it.

This situation, coupled with my long time opposition to phosphorus containing sheep minerals particularly when fed to male sheep, stimulated me to come up with a better plan. After reviewing the situation with a associate veterinarian, it was determined that there was a 100 to 1 toxicity tolerance. I had been concerned about toxicity which I had observed in cattle feed lot practice decades ago when organic iodine was heavily used to prevent foot rot, it didn’t work but it caused dandruff and lacrimation. We then developed an iodine/selenium premix to be added with loose white salt at the rate of one pound of premix to 50 pounds of salt. Mixed in this fashion it provides three times the levels provided in iodized salt. Further, iodine supplementation may be required in unusual situations when there is excess rain and rapid forage growth. A clean, accessible, and constantly available loose salt supply is critical.

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About Ask-a-Vet Sheep

Veterinary services, procedures, biologicals, and drugs mentioned in this publication represent the personal opinions and clinical observations of the contributing author. They are in no way intended to be interpreted as recommendations without the consent of the producer’s own practicing Veterinarian. We strongly urge that producers establish a patient-client-veterinarian relationship that allows extra-label use when there are no drugs approved for treatment or if approved drugs are not effective. This procedure allows veterinarians to go beyond label directions when “prudent use” is necessary. The limited availability of drugs and biologics in this country is a major factor in restricting the growth of the sheep industry and allowing producers to compete in the world market place.
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