Sunday, March 27, 2011

Serious getting sick weather...

And Louisianna is ripe as can be and will probably kid out tonight since they're calling for sleet and snow. That's right folks, after weeks of mild and sometimes downright gorgeous weather creeping up towards eighty, we're having a hard chill and cold precipitation with it. That's one of the things that makes this area a challenge. When North Carolina is beautiful, you can't beat it, but spring and fall often have huge temperature swings that kill budding trees (I mean dead - we had one year with a few weeks of high temps in January, followed by lows down near zero - we lost a big beautiful Japanese maple that year. The tender leaves just melted and it never recovered) and can really stress livestock and humans alike. Last week the goats were hot and panting and trying to loosen their winter coats, and today, I could tell they were wishing more of that hair was on them and less on the fence. I get worried with weather like this, especially with young critters. Louisianna had come over to see if Chip had anything good to offer. I had him in a snow suit and heavy coat. Maybe I got carried away, but I was freezing.

Speaking of freezing, here are a few pictures of some miserable puffed up varmints today.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I was wondering if there are any other producers out there using any "non standard" practices that work, who would be willing to share what they do and why they do it? I am not a vet, I do not play one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But, these things have been helpful to us with our goats, so I thought I would pass them along.

I know with meat goats it isn't standard to use an herbal dewormer, but that is what we try to do. I use a blend where the prescribed dosage is a wormwood blend about once a month, and a lighter blend weekly. Now, I tend not to use much of anything in the winter, not even the herbals. Since I have goats going to be on summer pasture this year, I am going to try to follow this regimen more closely to avoid any problems with the goats eating low to the ground. One thing I've found is if someone has loose poop and I believe it may be parasite related, it will normally resolve without incident with a three day dose of the wormwood blend. Only rarely do we need to move forward with a chemical after this. I make little round balls and most of the goats will eat them as treats, which makes for a less stressful experience all the way around.

I love slippery elm bark powder. It mixes well as a binder for herbal dewormers, and also helps with any goat stomach problems. If a goat feels poorly, they will almost always eat slippery elm, and per the herbal informaton, it has very soothing properties in the gut and is very nutritious.

I have used Bovi Sera with good luck for respiratory issues. If someone turns up with a runny nose that lingers more than a day or so, my first reaction would be to give a few days of Bovi Sera. It contains antibodies to some of respiratory bacteria, as well as, if I remember correctly, e coli and salmonella, and unlike antibiotics, won't produce stronger germs or kill off all the good bacteria in the rumen.

Several times I have extolled the virtues of lespedeza hay. When we have to feed a legume hay anyway, I prefer to feed one with the added benefit of reducing the load of parasite eggs on the pasture. Since we have very small acreage fenced, this is a big one for us. Anything I can do to help less parasite eggs lie in wait to be reingested is a step to help our goats stay healthy where they would otherwise be too heavily stocked. A side benefit with the stemmier old type lespedeza we have used is that the leftover stems, when speed composted as in a shed where there is a lot of urine or manure on top of it, makes a great dark rich layer of dirt. I don't know what is different about it than the grass hay, but there is something. More information on lespedeza can be found at - a great site from people doing specific research on how best to reduce parasites in goats and sheep in the South.

Some of these things have some research behind them, and some are just things we found that seem to be helpful. We feed kelp along with free choice minerals to our does, and I do this to ensure they get all the nutrients they need especially during gestation and lactation. I am hoping that what they don't absorb will pass through and will in turn help improve the poor soils in our pastures.
I've also included a picture of a trick we've seen many other producers use on a goat that keeps getting her head stuck in the fence. What tickled me was the other goats' reaction. I can just imagine them saying, "hey, uh, hey Rita... you know you got something stuck between your horns?"