Mastitis

Mastitis is by far the most troublesome ailment that any of my livestock has ever had the misfortune of contracting, even pink-eye is no match to this stuff. I was routinely checking my does’ udders to see if anyone was getting close to birthing, when I noticed that my oldest doe, Cheesecake, had a problem. One side of her udder was hot to the touch and swollen. I knew what it was right away. Even though my doe hadn’t given birth yet and wasn’t in milk, she had mastitis.

Now, I had never dealt with this problem. I did know, however, that she had a fever and I needed to try milking her out. Her ‘milk’ was about the consistency of snotty, bloody yogurt, and i could tell that me just touching Cheesecake’s bag was incredibly painful for her. I got out as much of that ‘crud’ as I could, but she still had a lump in her udder the size of a gold ball.

I was at a loss. I didn’t know how to help my poor girl. I didn’t know anyone who had ever tried curing mastitis naturally. Everyone I spoke to said they always called the vet and had them take care of the problem with antibiotics. After a few days, I was almost to that point of desperation. And then I met Mrs. Tate. She raises some very fine registered Nigerian Dwarves and she had recently had a goat with mastitis that she had cured using natural remedies, which she suggested I try. I eagerly followed her advice and went to http://www.firmeadowllc.com and ordered “HerBiotic Herb Mix” and “MammarEaze Salve”, both items that are intended to cure mastitis.

Upon their arrival, I began treating my doe with them immediately. I mixed about one teaspoon of the powdered HerBiotic miss with a few tablespoons of unsweetened apple juice and gave this orally to my doe once a day and I rubbed her affected teat with the salve. I did this for a week and that golf ball sized lump in her udder became softer and softer, until i was finally able to milk the final bit of ‘crud’ out of her. My doe was cured! And I was overjoyed!

These with definitely be products I keep on hand at all times just in case I ever have a case of mastitis in my herd again! Thank you, Fir Meadow llc. for making such great product, and thank you to Mrs. Tate for suggesting them!

Billy or Buck?

The term ‘Billy Goat’ has been the term used to identify a male goat for years and years, but now proper goat people are referring to the males as ‘Bucks’ instead. So which is the correct title? There is not really a straight answer to that question. It depends where you live, the people you hang out with, and the ‘goat circles’ you are in. The same goes for female goats. They used to be called ‘Nannies’ but now are known only as ‘Does’. And their kids (no, seriously! Baby goats are called kids!) are either bucklings (boys) or doelings (girls).

Where I live out here in the country, male goats are called billies. I’ve got two close friends who own goats, and both those educated ladies call their male goats Billy Goats. However, I was mingling with a crowd of registered goat owners for a few months, and they were very strict about referring to their males as ‘Bucks’ and they would jump to correct you if you let the word “billy” slip.

So, what do you think? Billy or Buck?

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My little billy goat, ‘Olaf’! 🙂 (Anyone out there a fan of the movie ‘Frozen’?)

Registered vs. unregistered

When you first step in to the world of goat ownership, you’ll quickly discover that there are two classes of goats: registered and non-registered. And depending on why you are wanting to raise goats, you’ll need to decide if you want your animals to be registered or not. This can be a difficult decision to make, especially if you’re in the same area as some registered goat owners. Depending on who you talk to, unregistered goats are worthless and you’ll never make it anywhere in the industry with them. But others will tell you that you’ll never make back all the money you invested in registered animals, which will cost upwards of $200 (I’ve seen doelings priced at $900) for a single weaned female, depending also on the breed. Whereas for an unregistered female, you usually won’t pay more than $75. At that reasonable price, you can have almost 100% guarantee that you’ll get the money back that you invested. The only way you will be able to sell an animal for $200 is if you already have buyers who are looking for registered stock. But in a pinch, you can’t just take that registered animal down to the local sale barn and expect to get any more than $100. That is when its nice to have those unregistered critters that you can turn around and sell to anyone and get back every cent you put in to them.

Another thing to consider when buying your goats is how much money can you invest right away? After all, you’ll need to buy feed, materials for a barn or shed, and fencing to keep your little escape-artists in.

Personally, I’d take an unregistered goat over a registered goat any day. I have purchased registered goats, and I doubt I’ll ever get my money back that I’ve put in her. Don’t get me wrong, she is a gorgeous goat, but not any more so than my unregistered goats, who are equally beautiful.

My goats are meant to be dairy goats, and a non-registered doe will produce just as much milk as a registered doe. The mother to my registered goat, Clover, out-produced all the other does her age (3 years old) after her second “freshening” (second time she had kids) and was giving about two quarts a day. Then I bought un unregistered buckling (weaned male goat) whose mother produced 2/3 to 3/4 gallon of milk a day. Milk production is what I’m looking for, with the ability to earn extra income by selling goat kids and milk. I’m not selling paperwork.

Registered goats can have valuable traits, but they can also have flaws. I spoke to a rancher recently, and discussed the pros and cons of registered stock. Here’s what the rancher had to say: “Registered breeds have done a lot for the industry. There are traits they have and don’t have, so why not take traits from both [registered and unregistered] and mix them together to have the best?” He went on to talk about how by crossbreeding the stock, you can get the most desirable animals and be able to get ahead in the market.*

Dye Your Wool with Kool-aid

What a cool idea! I’ve read that you can also add a splash of vinegar to the water water to help the color set better. 😁

Fiber and Pixels

alice-frenz-dye-wool-with-koolaid kool-aid dyed wool for felting

Dying wool with Kool-aid is non-toxic, fun, and smells great. You can find a variety of detailed instructions on the internet for dying wool yarn and wool batts in your microwave and on the stove. I especially like the information and color charts at dyeyouryarn.com. Above are sample pieces of corriedale wool I dyed with Kool-aid on my stove top.

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Doc Kennedy’s Tips and Short Cuts

A very nice list of problems you may encounter with sheep and simple instructions on how to fix them.

Ask-a-Vet Sheep

1. Pneumonia-Nuflor and Draxxin simultaneously. You generally only have to treat them once.

2. Salmonella– Excede or Excenel injected. Neomycin orally.

3. Enterotoxemia and TetanusCDT 1cc and 1cc Penicillin Aqueous at processing, birth to 4 days. Use type CD at weaning eight weeks, repeat in two to three weeks. Why vaccinate ewes? Not necessary and not all that effective

4. Worried about scrapie?– Use RR Rams. QR Rams are ok if not retaining ewe lambs.

5. Pink EyeLA 200 or a generic substitute. Inject subq, individual eye treatment generally unrewarding. OK in very valuable animals.

6. Lice and Kids– use the approved permetherin pour-on. Ivomec is not all that effective.

7. Iodine– always use iodized salt. Sometimes that is not enough. Add 1# organic iodine to 50# iodized salt. Safety factor is 100 to 1. Our selenium/iodine premix will take…

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Milking Sheep

Milking sheep! I know I’m going to be trying this after my ewes lamb this spring!

Just another Day on the Farm

I got asked a question by a family member the other day that went along the lines of, I know you milk your sheep but did you have to buy special sheep to do it?

The short answer is, I would if I could! but no..

The long answer is that there are milking breeds of sheep, the main one I have researched being the East Friesian, this breed of sheep are primarily raised for milk, lots of milk, lots of lambs, issues with my area, does not like heat (we have heat in the summer) and requires lots of really good feed and high energy impute to put out that vast amount of milk.. still we do have a few breeders in my province but at this time, they are either keeping back their ewe’s to grow the flock or selling starter flocks are very high prices at the…

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Homemade bag balm

Here is a good, easy starter recipe for bag balm!
And here’s another good one: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/11/diy-homemade-udder-balm.html#sthash.jZOo6cmx.dpbs

Prairie Sunrise Homestead

Within the first week of having our cow, Happy, I realized the importance of a good udder butter.  She was dry and bugs were biting.  Commercial bag balms are petroleum based and come in big litre-sized, or bigger containers.  That’s a few year’s worth if you have only one cow.  So I decided to try making my own.  It turned out so easy to do and cheap!  The result is a nice thick cream that nourishes and lasts the day out in the sun and wind.  The use of essential oils is optional but why not take advantage of the properties?  Cedarwood, Sandalwood and Lavendar are both a natural antiseptic and an insect repellent.  I am using lavendar right now and it really does protect her from fly bites.  And smells good. 🙂  This cream is good for us too so spread it around!

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. beeswax
9…

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The Ark

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Lambs at one week old     

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    Same ‘lambs’ at one year old

Before buying some of those cute little lambs or kids, you need to make sure you have room for them. Yes, when they are babies, you can easily hold two or more of the little darling in your arms, and besides, who doesn’t love to cuddle? But be careful! Those cuddly little babies are going to grow up. And fast! Pretty soon, your little lambs or kids are going to be so big, you can’t even pick one of them up! Before you start buying any kind of livestock, you have to make sure you have room for them to grow and play. Yes, you can probably keep your new baby sheep inside a doghouse when its little, but before its even six months old that lamb is going to need a much bigger house. Much bigger.

So before you go rushing off to buy some critters, do some research. Do you have a large, sprawling farm with a big barn and lost of fenced-in pastures? If so, you get you some livestock!!! Or do you only have a small backyard and one of those little plastic igloos for shelter? If so, don’t even think about buying any animals yet. With such small space, the ideal animal for you would be a Pygmy (or possibly Nigerian Dwarf) goat. But first you need to find someone who actually sells Pygmy goats. You can’t assume that just because the kid you’re looking at is tiny, that it will stay tiny.

Another thing to think about is the fact that you need at least two (2) animals. Sheep and goats are herd animals and do not do well if they don’t have a buddy. Do you have room for two animals? If your answer is “No” then you shouldn’t be considering buying a lamb or goat. This is where you need to remember the Ark. Noah put two animals of each kind on the Ark and there had to be enough room for the animals to be comfortable. The bottom line here is that if you don’t have an adequately sized ‘ark’, then you can’t have your two animals, and if you can’t have two animals, you can’t have an animal at all. Yes, buying two animals is twice the work, twice the money, and twice the trouble, but in the end you’ll end up with twice the profit. You have two healthy, happy animals. And that is the whole point. To have well-cared for livestock.

Please just remember to make sure you have room for any animal(s) you are wanting to get. If you don’t have the kind of room these animals need, maybe you should consider just getting a goldfish or a cat, instead.

 

Dealing with the dreaded ‘S’ word: Scours

Any seasoned rancher will tell you that scours are a BIG problem. If not taken care of immediately, it will lead to the untimely death of your animal(s). Scours (basically just a different name for ‘diarrhea’ in the animal kingdom) will dehydrate your animal very quickly, as well as keep them from getting any nutrition from the food they are eating. As a general rule, you have three days to get your animal(s) over the scours. If not treated by the third day, the fourth day will be too late and your animal will die.

All animals, big and small, young and old,  can get scours. And it could be caused by any number of things.

I’ve only had a problem with scours in adult sheep after feeding my new ram too much grain. Most likely, he’d never had grain before and the sudden addition of the rich stuff to his diet in too large of quantity was literally poisoning him. I immediately cut the grain out of his diet and started giving him two (2) chewable tablets of an off brand Pepto-Bismol once a day, in the morning. For the rest of the day he was on a strict diet of grass hay and water. He was cleared up by the evening of the third day, though I never offered him grain again.

Now I have had problems with scours in my lambs and goat kids. They were all orphans and I was bottle feeding them. And since I was using a powdered milk replacer (Land’O’Lakes) for the little fellows, they did not have the proper bacteria balance in their tummies as they would have if they were drinking their own mother’s milk. Prompt treatment of scours is detrimental in baby animals as they are far more fragile than adults. For my lambs, they were given one-half (1/2) chewable tablet of Pepto-Bismol (off brand, remember!) a day. Now, for baby animals, you have to grind up the tablets into fine powder and feed it to the baby a little at a time, gently swiping your finger across the tip if it’s tongue to moisten your finger so the powder will stick, and then putting your finger back into the baby’s mouth and rubbing the powder on its tongue. You repeat that process until baby has eaten the entire allotment of powder. Don’t do this longer than three days in a row, or else you may risk the baby becoming constipated, which is also very bad. And if the baby is still being bottle fed, you can start mixing in a few tablespoons of natural, unflavored yogurt into the milk. The probiotics in the yogurt will help your baby keep from getting the scours in the future. After the Pepto-Bismol and the yogurt routine, my lambs were fine.

My baby goats (kids) were more difficult. I tried the Pepto-Bismol and yogurt, but it didn’t seem to be working all that well. So I started feeding about two to four (2 or 4) ounces of electrolytes to the kid once in the morning and once in the afternoon (I was still feeding them milk, as well). You will notice that the electrolytes turn the poo into a disturbing shade of dark green. But after a few days of feeding the electrolytes and still seeing no change, I started using Probios. Probios is another probiotic, but formulated especially for sheep and goats to help cure them of scours. I added the Probios to the milk twice a day (cutting out the yogurt, electrolytes, and Pepto-Bismol.) My kids were immediately better. I used the Probios for two days in a row just to get the babies back on track, and then I went back to feeding the powdered milk replacer as I started off doing. Throughout the whole process of curing the scours, I started putting a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil on their bedding after eating and before putting them to bed for the night. So it did take more time to cure the goats of their scours, but I did get them fixed and they are just fine now. 🙂

How to deal with a few common problems among sheep and/or goats

The following is a list of fairly common problems you may run into while your blooming sheep or goat herd, as well as naturals ways to cure the different ailments.

Scours. Scours can be a life-threatening problem if not dealt with ASAP. Basically, your animal(s) has a bad case of diarrhea and they are going to become dehydrated very quickly. If left unattended, your animal is going to die. The best was to cure scours is to dose your animal with an off brand of Pepto-Bismol. Usually that should clear them up in about three days. If not, you may need to contact your local veterinarian. Another method to treating scours is to use Probios and/or electrolytes.

Bloat. Bloat can be another life-threatening problem, caused by overeating or if the animal has eaten something high in nitrates, such as oats before they have headed out or alfalfa that has been frozen. The best thing I have found for treating bloat is Peppermint Essential Oil. This oil works extremely well, and the animal needs only to smell it. Do not apply any essential oils directly to the animal without first diluting it in water, as it can make the animal sick. Just put a few drops of the oil in the animal’s bedding in the evenings. This, of course, is only for minor bloat or to prevent bloat. In severe cases of bloat, if you have never dealt with bloat before, you should contact your local veterinarian immediately! One other method to preventing bloat is to leave out a pan of free-choice baking soda. Sheep and goats should, if feeling poorly, eat the baking soda and it will sometimes also help in cases of mild bloat.

Worms. If your animal has worms, it needs to be treated promptly. One of the best natural wormers is Garlic Barrier. Sheep need approximately one teaspoon of Garlic Barrier every two to four months to control internal worm problems. Goats need twice that amount (two teaspoons every two to four months). The best way to administer this pungent deformer is to mix it with a small handful of grain and sprinkle on some sea salt. Most animals will gobble this mixture right up and be worm free in no time!

Pink eye. Medically known as Conjunctivitis, pink eye can easily become your worst nightmare. Pink eye can appear literally overnight and it takes about a month to cure completely. You must diligently doctor your animal morning and night to get this infectious disease under control. It might be a good idea to quarantine the sick animal so that the rest of your herd/flock does not become infected as well. The best way to treat pink eye is with Vetericyn. Use the Ophthalmic Gel to begin with, twice a day, for the first two weeks or until you can see the pink eye gradually getting better. After that, you can start using the Vetericyn Pink Eye Spray twice a day instead, which is much easier to apply and less stressful on both you and the animal. If there is a lot of wind at the time your animal(s) has pink eye, you might consider putting a patch over its eye. You can make a patch out of a piece of denim material and glue it on with any glue that is approved for use on animals. But a patch is not necessary and it can be troublesome to apply, so if you choose to use a patch is your decision. I applied a patch to my ewe’s eye, and it lasted about a day, which was fine because it protected her the day the winds were the worst. Here is a picture after the patch had begun to come off.

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Ear infection. If your sheep or goat has an ear infection, you’ll notice there is a bit of discharge running out of the ear and clinging to the fur. It had an unpleasant smell and with be a yellowish color. The best way to cure up an ear infection is with the juice of an onion. Yep. An onion. Preferably a sweet onion. Just take half an onion and juice it. Then fill an eye-dropper full of the liquid and squirt it right into the ear. You’ll notice that the animal will begin to act as if they can taste the onion in their mouth, and you’ll know that the onion has broken through the infection and your critter will be as good as new. Only administer the onion juice once and use no more than a teaspoonful!

Eat mites. Ear mites are tiny, nasty little bugs that burrow into your animal’s ear and cause problems. The symptoms are much like an ear infection (see above) but the discharge with have a dark brown or red tint to it. A fast cure for ear mites is a little olive oil. Just fill up an eye-dropper and coat the inside of the animal’s ear. This will suffocate the ear mites and your critter will make a full, pest-free recovery! Only use virgin olive oil that has never before been used, and don’t use more than a few teaspoons, and you only need to doctor the animal once.

Pain. A good pain reliever is willow. I had a wether who twisted his leg and was limping, so I gave him three or four small, tender willow shoots, which he loved, and it seemed to ease some of his discomfort.

I will continue to add to this list as I face new problems with my own herd. Check back later for updates!