How To Care For Sick Livestock

With the high rains of Washington state livestock is always at risk of catching illness and mold from lack of dry shelter. There are three steps that every farmer needs to take to keep his or her animals happy and healthy. Those steps being Observe, Quarantine, and Prevention.

Observe

Watch your animals and see if they are acting differently. This would be lack of interest in food, limping, coughing, wheezing, discolored poo, loss of hair or feathers, or if they are being pushed out by their herd.

Not only should you keep tabs on your livestock behavior but also their surroundings. Has your land been having heavy rainstorms and large areas of mud have started forming? Is their food and water supply been refilled and kept fresh? Are rats eating and pooping in your animals’ food supply? Does their bedding stink and need to be changed? Ask yourself these questions next time when your out checking on your livestock.

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Where I live my animals are always getting rained on, and large areas of mud have formed. My goat, Jack, has started limping because he has hoof infection from mold growing in the wet environment. Luckily for Jack, we spotted this quickly and have taken action.

Quarantine

When you have a sick animal, it is best to quarantine them or move them along from the herd. This is to prevent the illness from spreading to the rest of the herd. You will want to put them into a warm and dry pen along with fresh food and water. By doing this, you can carefully monitor the animal’s wellbeing and administer medicine when needed.

Upon discovering the mold on Jack’s hoofs. My father and I put together a small pen using extra fencing and the barn wall. A tarp was placed across the top to hold back the rain. Then we put down dry bedding of woodchips and hay. Jack is now recovering in his pen. Every day we are administering Hoof Heal cream to kill the mold and heal his damaged hoofs. Jack seems to be enjoying his recuperation as he has no one to compete with for food or water.

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Prevention

Now that you have identified sick individuals and have quarantined them from the rest of the herd it is time to look at preventing new cases from occurring.

If you have noticed that rats are eating the feed and leaving droppings, then it is time for action. First, you will want to secure your food supply. My family does this by placing our feed in large metal containers so the rats can’t chew their way in. Rats are known carriers of disease and ticks. If you see one, then there are five more nearby, and they need to be removed. This can be done by placing rat traps with peanut along walls out of reach of your livestock and children. Rats can be a very annoying pest to remove so do not be afraid to call in a professional for help.

Wet environments breed disease. Make sure that your livestock has dry shelter and bedding. You will need to have enough space for each individual to avoid competition for space. Every week change out the hay or woodchips with fresh bedding. This will help to keep your stable from becoming a tick haven during the wet seasons.

On my farm, we have one dry area for our cows and goats. However, because we have so many individuals in our herd, my family will have to construct a large shelter for them to stay dry during a storm.

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Observe, Quarantine, and Prevention. These three steps will help you raise healthy livestock for generations. If you are ever unsure of what illness may be affecting your herd or how to prevent the sickness, then don’t be afraid to ask your local vet for advice.

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