Tips for Healthy Animals
First off, let me say that I am NOT a veterinarian and I have no medical degrees, certifications or other official training. If you have a sick animal, please seek medical attention. The items below are things that I personally do to prevent our animals from getting sick in the first place. They are lessons we've learned from actually doing it.
I have read several books, including the Merck Veterinary Manual (well, let's say I own it and refer to it, but I don't always understand all the jargon!), The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, and several other herbal and natural health manuals including Rosemary Gladstone's books. By far the most useful book I own is The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. My husband often asks, "What does Carla say about that?"
I also found www.fiascofarm.com to be EXTREMELY helpful. She sells her own line of herbal products for animals and although I have never purchased any myself, I did use her ingredients list to come up with some of the concoctions I give our animals.
I highly recommend finding a local health food store that sells organic dried herbs. I am extremely fortunate to have such a wonderful place nearby. Heart Healthy located in Alliance Ohio provides a wide variety of high quality dried herbs and the staff is extremely knowledgeable. You can link to their site here: hearthealthypleasures.com
The link above will take you to a wikipedia article that explains DE better than I can.
I use this to control insects and to de-worm. DE is all natural and is the fossilized shells of algae. It works on any insect or worm that has an exo-skeletan by dissolving it. Please be aware that DE is also used in swimming pool maintenance - this is NOT the DE you want. You should only use Food Grade DE.
I purchase two types of DE. One is from Tractor Supply and includes bentonite. It is food grade, but our animals are primadonnas and turn their noses up at it. Instead, I use this in their bedding areas. It's inexpensive so I can spread it around everywhere. I use it in the chicken coop, rabbit pens, and goat sheds. I also spread this over the piles of used straw and manure I clean out of the pens to prevent them from becoming a fly and fruit fly breeding ground. My husband often laughs that our fly trap only had one dead fly in it all summer long.
We've also spread it around the outside of our house and in the kitchen to keep ants out.
The second type of DE is a pure white powder that I purchase from Hoegger Farm Suppy online. I buy it in 10 lb bags. This is what I mix in the animals' food and they eat it up. We also give this to our dogs and cats. When our coonhound was a puppy, we put 1/4 teaspoon in his food everyday for a week and have never had a problem with worms since. I also use this on the outside of our animals to prevent fleas, lice, ticks or any other external parasites from attaching.
This is a prepared spray that I purchase at Tractor Supply, but can be found at a multitude of places. The primary ingredient is Gentian Violet, so it has natural quality. The primary use is for skin ailments: eczema, ringworm, minor scrapes and cuts. Be careful - it stains everything it touches purple!
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple Cider Vinegar is good for so many things I wrote a blog post about it! I add a teaspoon or so to the goats' water every other day. Every day when the does are lactating. It prevents urinary tract infections in the bucks and mastitis in the does. It's a natural antibiotic that boosts the immune system, assists in blood sugar regulation and weight loss. I personally add a tablespoon to my tea every day with some raw organic honey.
Dried organic lavender blossoms have a calming effect. They can be added to grain directly. I added 1 teaspoon per 2 lbs of grain when feeding my does. I began this about one week prior to delivery to ease their pain and calm their fears. I don't know if it helped or not, but it made me feel better! You can also soak the blossoms in water for a day or so, then strain out the solid material and add the lavender water to their drinking water. This is good to give to kids prior to disbudding, tattooing and all the other things we do to them that they don't like!
Deep Bedding Method
Despite all the advice out there regarding the deep bedding method, do NOT do this! It builds up and impacts and, at least in our experience, it did NOT disintegrate. Instead, it held the moisture in between the soil and the dry straw on top and became a breeding ground for all types of parasites.
Take a hay fork and pull up the layers of bedding until you reach the soil. Now, stick your face down there and take a deep breath. Smells like sewage, huh? If it smells like that to us, I'm sure it smells the same way to all the insects that make feces their home . . .
Generally, once a month a so I clean out the coop and goat pens and remove ALL straw/hay from the floor. All of our goat areas have dirt floors, so once the bedding is removed, I spread DE all over the ground. This dissolves any eggs that may be there and any insects that emerge have to go through it. Apparently the DE destroys them.
1 1/2 cups dried alfalfa leaves
1 1/2 cups dried raspberry leaves (blackberry is best if you can get it, if not red is fine too)
1/4 cup dried rosehips
2 tablespoons cinnamon
I mixed all of the above together in a ziploc bag and added 2 tablespoons to the does' feed. Starting two months prior to birth, I fed once per day. Two weeks prior to birth I fed twice a day and continued until one month after birth. This is same schedule I used for the molasses.