Monday, June 20, 2011

Controlling Parasites

Good Morning!  We finally got some rain!!  Only about 2/10th's, but at this point anything is appreciated.  It's not enough to discontinue our watering schedule, however.  The pens and pasture were already drying out by the time I cleaned them on Sunday morning.  I am so glad that I have been taking the time to rake the pens daily.  It has really cut down on the flies and, hopefully, the parasites.

Deworming is always a hot item this time of year.  Since literature indicates that some dewormers are becoming ineffective due to overuse, we try not to use them unless indicated by a FAMACHA screening.  This involves looking at the eyelid and determining parasite level from the color of the eyelid; a nice rosy color = no parasites.  The paler the eyelid the higher the parasite level.  We never just treat the entire herd on a schedule.  Some of our goats have a high natural resistance to parasites, while others are less so.  Since a high parasite level leads to anemia, which stresses all of a goat's systems, it is often a precursor to other problems.  It is especially important that newly acquired animals be dewormed, since they may be unused to the parasites in your area.

Dry weather makes the parasite level easier to control.  But any rain will cause the population to increase rapidly.  The best control of parasites is in pasture rotation.  Since we only have a total of 4.3 acres, with 2 acres unusable at this time, and my house occupying part of the remaining acreage, we are greatly limited in our pasture area.  This makes it impossible to use pasture rotation as a method of control.  Keeping several different species on the same area helps (our cow, horse, and goats share an area).  But our key to parasite control is the daily cleaning of pens.  This is time consuming and hard work, but definitely pays off in the end.  There are currently 5 pens/areas which I clean daily.  Each area is raked with a metal yard rake and then the manure is removed using a shovel.  This is then transported by wheelbarrow across to the compost pile and dumped.  The compost is then used the next year on our gardens or to build raised beds.  Like I said, time-consuming and hard work, but necessary with our land restrictions.  Manure also makes a really good fertilizer.  Goat, sheep, horse, and rabbit manure can be used fresh in your garden and on fruit-bearing trees and bushes.  Poultry and cattle manure must be dried first due to the high nitrogen content.  We use the manure as needed and the rest is composted.

No matter what your reason for raising animals (meat, milk, fiber, etc), the end product is always better with a healthy animal.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day!


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