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.
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!