They aren't kidding. Or at least not in the successful ordinary manner in which it happened last year.
We have farmer friends with goats and their nanny goats are birthing their kids now. Sadly, more than half of the kids died shortly after birth and most of them had goiter.
Justifiably alarmed, my farmer friends are exploring many avenues in search of ways to avoid this problem in the future.
Nutrition is of course the obvious place to focus. What a learning experience for all of us is this exploration!
I am intrigued by many things we are learning and deeply disturbed by other aspects.
I am disturbed, in part, because I am relatively trusting by nature. Sadly, I am learning there is little reason to trust our food sources -- not for ourselves nor for our animals.
I realize that the trust stuff comes easily for most of us.
For example, I live with a husband who is a total believer in health foods. He reads or hears a claim by an advertiser, or hears an anecdotal report and then he buys the product. No questions asked. Mostly, this just means he is excreting expensive pee. But more seriously, he very often recommends 'this or that' to others without ever having investigated the history of the product. He never checks out the science of the vitamin or product from a reliable source because he doesn't believe that "natural" things can have contraindications. He totally believes the science fiction around "health foods."
But as my farmer friends and I are learning it may well be that within these good intentions of "health" that the poor little kid goats lost their lives.
Many different types of soy products are marketed as animal feed (and are in animal feed). This is in large measure because we view soy as a healthy primary vegetable protein source
What my farmer friends and I are learning is that the soy plant has an iodine-binding capacity which affects thyroid function. As well, (and there appears to be sufficient documentation indicating an established history) there is record of soy-based creation of pancreatic and thyroid gland problems in animals. Ofcourse, most of us are looking at what's in the package before we feed it to our pets, but how can we know all of these important details?
It is overwhelming.
We have learned that soy used in diets for poultry or pigs must be heated at 110 degrees Celsius for three minutes. Soy, just like many other legumes, has lecithin and other anticoagulants such as tripsine blocker (protheolithic enzyme from the pancreatic juice). This prevents an optimal use of proteins in foods. Fortunately, these anticoagulant factors can be completely destroyed at high temperatures. Historically, agricultural and food corporations told farmers that ruminants such as goats do not need to have the soy heat treated.
However, a pathologist, assisting my friends in their exploration for answers to the why of their kids' deaths, told my friends to talk to their animal feed processor about the heating process -- soy does need to be heated for goats or the iodine-binding (and other problems) capacity remains.
This is but one avenue of exploration. My friends are also examining their hay source, reviewing the genetic history of their goats (as much as possible, not all farmers tell each other the truth when selling their animals to one another).
And while this animal detective works goes on I am wondering about the claims of soy as a healthy alternative to milk-based formulas for human infants.
And I am pretty sure I want to know more about the high levels of phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, lectins, manganese and phytoestrogens in soy. Those high levels of phytic acid likely greatly inhibit zinc and iron absorption. What does this mean for menopausal women and others consuming soy with the assumption that it is beneficial to them.
For me, even if the soy in the goats' feed turns out to be a non-issue, I have a new awareness of the need to know more ... and it is overwhelming me. I just want to be able to trust.