Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter 2012 updates - a lot of catching up since July!

Wow - how did it get to be December already?!?  My last post was back in July, and feels like last month.  Many changes and events at Oak Hill since July...

Some goats have left, and a new goat has arrived.  Oak Hill Bluebelle and Oak Hill Chickadee left to live at Crystal View Fainting Goats.  They have a wonderful new home with the Neely's, and I'm excited to see kids from both of them in the next couple years.



Sadly, Chickadee's son Bluebeard passed this summer, likely of complications from a sting or bite.  While no goat can take Blue's place, my hope is that Chickadee will produce a similar buckling at her new home.
RIP Bluebeard - you were loved...
A new lady has come to live at Oak Hill.  Locust Hill Alexandria arrived late this summer from Goat Flower Farm.  'Lexi is bred to Astro for spring 2013 kids.  She is shy - slowly learning that my visits mean treats.  'Lexi has lovely muscle and bone and I'm excited to see the size she adds to the Oak Hill herd.

Geisha & I in the ring
The first MGR shows at the South Mountain Fair in August were a great success!  We had 50+ goats showing, from all over the east coast.  In 2013, we plan to add a 3rd show to the schedule, with more goats and exhibitors expected.  The shows have their own website at http://southmountainmgrshows.homestead.com/  Come visit the site to purchase show merchandise and watch for next year's schedule.
Carlotta is due to kid any day now.  I'm hoping for Christmas kids (they will be for sale).  The other mature does are bred for spring 2013 kids.  I have the breedings and due dates posted on the Oak Hill website.  I'm especially excited to see what the Truffle x Tonka cross yields.  Maybe Truffle will get to keep a daughter this coming year (All my does get to keep a daughter at least once - my promise to them).  If everyone kids twins successfully, we will have 14 kids on the ground at the same time.  Bedlam!!! In the best way!!!  Hoping for an open house in 2013 at Oak Hill.  Stay tuned for that!

We added a separate breeding pen this year, handy for our girls and any visiting does.  The Love Shack has been a handy addition!

On a more ominous note, coyotes have been spotted behind our farm.  To insure our goats' safety, we are adding a livestock guardian dog (LGD) to our family this December.  We decided on a Great Pyrenese, after much debate over breeds.  Our LGD Alruna comes from Duffy Fainting Goat Farm in NY state.   'Runa has just started to hang out with the goats at Duffy's.  She is the most curious of the girls, and very happy.  We are very excited for her arrival.

And just for fun, Oak Hill has made the leap into Pinterest.  Come join us there!  http://pinterest.com/oakhillfainters/

May your holiday and new year be filled with fun, family, peace, joy & abundant blessings! 
And some goat kisses!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Goat Hoof trimming - updated February 2013

Goat Hoof Trimming
by Carrie Eastman

I've learned more since I first posted about trimming.  This is revised as of February 2013. 
I have collected reference photos of ideal wild hooves, trimming tools and anatomy on Pinterest.  http://pinterest.com/oakhillfainters/goat-hoof-care/
Your tools are important.  Some prefer hoof trimmers, some small pruning scissors, some snub-nosed wire cutters.  My preferred tools are a hoof trimmer and a pocket rasp. 
It is also good to be prepared with some blood stop/styptic powder, Yunan Pao, and/or my favorite liquid trace minerals, in case you cause some bleeding.
Take the time to read through the articles, particularly the ones discussing corrective trims.
Watch how your goat stands and walks before you start to trim.
Take pictures.  This helps you remember how your goat stood before the trim.

One of my favorite trimming articles:  http://fiascofarm.com/goats/hoof-trim-rf.htm
Excellent corrective trimming article with pictures: http://www.gorge-usboergoats.com/hoof_trimming.htm

This article gets into some corrective trimming for goats that turn out or turn in:  http://www.barnonemeatgoats.com/hooftrimming.html
Some more at the end of this article on corrective trimming:  http://www.goatworld.com/articles/feet/hooftrimming.shtml

A VERY important note about some of these reference articles:  Several authors refer to the shape of a newborn's hooves as the guide for future trimming, and the justification for the popular high-heeled trim that creates a box shaped hoof.  This is incorrect!  The shape of the newborn's hooves changes as soon as the tendons start getting used.

Here are some before and after pictures starring Dreamer.  In the front shot, notice that his stance is a little wider after the trim.  He's still turning out a bit in front.  I took off all I could this trim, so I'll retouch in a week and see if we can get those toes back where they belong.  He used to be perfectly straight, so this is a result of going too long between trims.  In the rear shot, before the trim he was a bit down in pasterns, probably because his hooves were too long.  After the trim, his pasterns are back up and you can see more daylight between his hocks.  The ground is very soft after all the rain and with the loose hay, which also makes it harder to judge the changes.  Standing them on firm ground to check your work is a good idea.
Next time I'll get some before and after video to show movement.

Happy Trimming!

Carrie and the Oak Hill gang

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goat First Aid Kit

Updated March 2016

A first aid kit for goats can be a real lifesaver.  Generally, I divide first aid supplies into 2 categories - those that are for critical life-saving intervention where seconds count, and those that you have time to go to the store and purchase (although they should be kept on hand if possible)

Your goat can die within seconds or minutes from just a few things. Severe blood loss, shock, snake bite, allergic reaction or poisoning.  (Previous post on rhododendron poisoning)

Critical life-saving supplies:
My favorite liquid trace minerals and/or blood stop powder
My favorite prebiotic
activated charcoal
Montmorrillonite clay
homeopathic Nux Vomica 30C
Rubber tubing of the appropriate diameter and length to insert in the nostril/nasal cavity in case of snake bite to the nose
epinephrine if you give your own shots (consult with your veterinarian for supply and dosage)

National Animal Poison Control Center Numbers

1-900-680-0000 $20 for the first 5 minutes, then $2.95/minute after. Charged to your phone bill
1-800-548-2423 $30.00 per case, (bills to your VISA, Mastercard, Discover or American Express only)
The 800 number cost includes follow-up calls and will consult with your veterinarian.

Other first aid kit ingredients:
There are many good online sources of first aid kit ingredient lists and complete kits. 
All of these lists and kits are based on conventional western medicine.

Also check out my favorite Topical Aid Kit

A good homeopathic first aid kit can be very handy as well. Dr Edgar Sheaffer is a highly regarded vet specializing in homeopathy.  He offers a complete 40 remedy farm kit http://www.clarkvetclinic.com/products.html  There are a few key remedies that should be kept on hand, if you opt not to purchase an entire farm kit.  See my personal list below.

My personal first aid kit:
Everything listed on the critical supplies list above
My favorite wound salve, my favorite balm, oral flower essence blend for fear & stress, topical flower essence blend, oral flower essence blend for high spirits without fear , chelated colloidal silver, tea tree oil,
basic wound cleaning and bandaging supplies
surgical scissors, syringes, needles
alcohol, peroxide
Rescue Remedy
Basic homeopathic remedies in 30C potency:  Nux Vomica, Arnica, Hypericum, Ledum, Thuja, Urtica

Also learn how to do basic TTouch ear work for animals in shock. Start at the base of the ear, cup your hand around the ear to fold the ear on itself with your fingers on one side and thumb on the other, and slide along the length of the ear. When you reach the tip, rub it between your thumb and fingers to activate the shock point. Keep repeating the slide and the rub of the tip. You can also make circles or rub around the base of the ear, where it joins the head, to activate the acupuncture point for digestion and respiration. 

I practice good preventative nutrition and find I very rarely need anything from my first aid kit or a visit from the vet.  Prevention is always better and less expensive than treatment.

Finally, a gun and a very sharp knife.  May you never need either.  In the horrible situation of a totally stuck kid or a rupture or other terminal situation, no vet available, and mom suffering, have the supplies you need to put her down humanely and to retrieve the kid(s).  Always attempt to get a vet first.  Always.  And there may come a time when the worst happens and you are faced with a dying mom and dying kids.  Read this article and visit this Pinterest board BEFORE you need it , and save both links somewhere handy.

If you have any questions about first aid kit ingredients, please feel free to contact me.

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

Tips for bringing home a new kid

Bringing Home A New Kid
by Carrie Eastman

Whether you are shopping for your first goats, or adding to your herd, picking out a new kid (or three) is always exciting.  So you've found your kid and you're ready to go pick him or her up.  Are you prepared?  Here are my thoughts on preparing for and picking up your new kid.

Before going to pick up your kid:
If you are asking your seller to vaccinate or deworm/delouse your kid, ask that this be done several days prior to your scheduled pickup to give the kids time to recover from the stress.

Locate a goat veterinarian in your area if you don't already have one.  Call and introduce yourself, get your information entered as a new client and learn their emergency numbers and hours.

Plan your transportation.  Kids should be transported in a safe enclosure, large enough that they can stand, turn around and lie down. Kids that do not know each other should not be squeezed together in a small crate. Kids should be protected from direct wind in the open back of a truck, and from the rain. (Side note about kids and bathroom habits: If you are transporting your kids in your car in a crate, keep in mind that kids can back up to the bars and pee or poop through the bars outside the crate.)

Assemble your goat first aid kit.

Set up your quarantine pen.  Besides secure fencing and shelter from the weather, you pen should include fresh water and free choice supplements.  I put out loose salt, baking soda and a mineral mix, each in a separate container.  You can google "goat biosecurity" for many articles on biosecurity procedures.

The day of pickup:
Before leaving the seller's place, ask if you can have a sample of hay and grain to help your kid transition onto the feed at your place.  A one or two day supply is plenty.

Do you have a signed sales contract?  Your kid's medical records?  Get these before you leave.

When you get home:
Once you get your kid home, put your new kid in the quarantine pen.  Plan on keeping your kids apart from your goats long enough for any illnesses to show up.  There are many opinions about isolation times ranging from 2 to 6 weeks.  To some extent, the time depends on where you got your kid.  Kids from a known breeder whose management practices you trust will need a shorter time than a kid you bought at auction.  I personally have waiting only a few days with kids from a local breeder I trust.   No nose rubbing through the fences with your other goats or shared feed/water buckets please.  Change your shoes or clean your boots when entering and leaving the pen.  Wash your hands.   If you got a single new kid, pick one goat from your herd that is a good size and temperment match to live with your kid.

I like to withhold grain for the first 24 hours at least, waiting until I see that the kid has calmed down and is settling in.  Only hay and forage during this transition.  When the kid is settled, then slowly add grain back into the diet.

I give a prebiotic (not a probiotic) at least twice daily for the first couple days and during the transition back onto grain.  I use this one.

After the first week (assuming the kid is settled in and healthy), if the kid was vaccinated, I give a dose of homeopathic thuja 30C by mouth.  I also give some montmorrillonite clay and some zeolite for a few days.

Quarantine is also a good time to do a fecal check for parasites (including tapeworms) and deworm as necessary.  See my blog post on parasites for more information.

The quarantine period is also a good time for your veterinarian to check your kid and perform any testing for diseases.  (What diseases you test for, if any, is a topic for another post.)  Some breeders consider the vet check optional during quarantine. 

Once your kid finishes quarantine, you can begin the transition into your herd.  Watch for excessive bullying and be prepared to intervene if necessary.  During the transition, resume the daily prebiotic and make sure your kid is getting access to the free choice baking soda, salt and minerals.

Have fun with your new goat!

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Goat Parasites

Parasites are all about the immune system. A healthy immune system fights off parasites, and is stimulated by the presence of a small number of parasites.

If the immune system is not the key, then how can you have a field of goats, all exposed to the same parasites, and some show symptoms while others thrive?

Copper is especially important for immune function. And, because minerals act both synergistically and antagonistically, you also have to look at other minerals that interact with copper. Mulder’s Chart expresses the relationships visually.   To learn more about mineral interactions, also visit Albion Minerals.

Parasite go through phases of activity that are linked to the moon phases and the time of day. Fecal tests should be done at the same moon stage and same time of day for consistent results. Deworming at the full moon is the most effective, when cell fluid pressure is at peak. If I am doing a multi-day 3 or 7 day deworming, I make sure the full moon falls at the middle of the process.
Rather than deworming by the calendar, deworm as the goats show signs of parasite overload, or if a fecal test reveals a high fecal count.

Dewormers in order of least toxic to most toxic:

1) Montmorillonite/bentonite clay & food grade diatomaceous earth (DE)

2) Herbal dewormers

3) Chemical dewormers

*Piperazine, Thiabendazole, Oxfendazole



*Anthelcide & Oxibendazole



*In order by reported deaths, with no deaths for Piperazine/Thiabendazole/Oxfendazole to most deaths for Moxidectin

Montmorillonite/bentonite clay has a long history of being used for detoxification and parasite removal. Additionally, this clay is on the FDA Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) list. The clay, when wet, carries a strong negative charge which attracts positively-charged toxins and repels parasites.

Food grade diatomaceous earth works mechanically, by scraping the parasite exoskeleton, causing the parasite to dehydrate and die. There is debate whether DE is effective for goats. For large goat operations, the DE can be milled into the grain, or fed free-choice. DE can be safely fed year round. Always use food grade. DE is also FDA GRAS.  (Studies show mixed results using DE.)

So far, parasites do not appear to develop resistance to mechanical/physical control by clay or DE. I use clay and diatomaceous earth on my pregnant does.

Herbal remedies are an entire article by themselves. There are many brands and many herbal combinations, using garlic, wormwood, walnut and other herbs. Fiasco Farm, Land of Havilah and Fir Meadow all sell herbal dewormers and has a good section on parasites. I personally use this herbal detoxifier, except on pregnant does.

With a heavily parasitized goat, start mild and work your way up. Starting with the big guns can lead to a massive parasite die-off, releasing toxins that can kill the goat.

Support the gut after a chemical deworming. Feed a good pre/probiotic (my favorite prebiotic) that balances gut pH and encourages healthy gut flora. Also consider adding zeolite (my favorite zeolite) and/or montmorillonite clay (my favorite clay or my favorite clay blend) to the diet for several days, starting 24 hours after the chemical dose, to absorb any residual chemical.

Work on clearing parasites from the soil. Clean up manure if possible, and compost. Try free range chickens, to break up manure, eat parasites and let the eggs dry out. In small areas, spread diatomaceous earth to kill parasites. Rotate pastures, and alternate between browsing and grazing species to break up the life cycle. Certain fertilizers trigger premature egg hatching, killing the parasites.

In summary, my personal parasite control program is daily DE. I feed good-quality amino acid chelated minerals with adequate copper. I rotate pastures with horses and manage parasites in the soil and manure. As needed, I use an herbal detoxifier and clay for 7 days (except on pregnant does). If necessary as a last resort, I use a triple or quadruple dose of pyrantel (per my vet), sometimes for 3 days in a row. I use a prebiotic during and after the 7 day herbal program, and add clay after using the pyrantel.

drug chart

Reference article about chemical parasite control

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Basic Goat Care (as seen in the MGR newsletter)

The 6 basic building blocks of any goat’s diet are fats, carbohydrates, proteins, water, vitamins, minerals. There are many excellent books and online articles, including peer-reviewed studies, dealing with the basics of goat diet. So let’s focus on the less-basic, less-mainstream bits of information that will be useful for your goats. Please keep in mind I am feeding for a long, healthy life, healthy kids, minimal medical/chemical intervention and cost-effective feed use, not necessarily the fastest growth or highest meat to bone ratio.

Water. The quality of your goats’ water is extremely important. Studies have shown that water intake controls feed intake, milk production and weight gain. Some thoughts to consider: Do you have hard water? If so, do you use a water softener? There is anecdotal evidence that the salts in water softeners can be a health risk. Generally, force-feeding salt (what softened water does) is not recommended in most situations. Do you provide your water in galvanized metal troughs or buckets? Metals such as zinc, lead and cadmium can leach from the galvanized surface. Do you use soft black rubber buckets? Rubber is conditioned with the chemical ethoxyquin, which can leach into water, especially in the hot summer sun. There is debate whether ethoxyquin has harmful side effects. I personally take the cautious approach and avoid rubber water buckets and feed tubs, choosing instead to use hard plastic buckets and troughs. Do you water with garden hoses? Many garden hoses are made of PVC, which is stabilized with lead, and can leach lead, especially if left sitting in the sun. A simple solution is to use hoses labeled for potable water use.

Fats. Fats should not be more than 5% of the total diet, because they can suppress fermentation in the rumen. Fats are a good source of energy, and excess energy goes to weight gain as fat stores. My personal fat favorites are black oil sunflower seeds (watch out for chemical sprout inhibitors), chia seeds, and soybeans (heat treated, chemical-free, not genetically modified).

Carbohydrates. Carbs are sugars, starches and fiber that are used for energy, with excess energy stored as fat. Hay, browse and grain are the primary souces of carbohydrates. Looking to wild goats as the baseline, I feel goats should get the majority of their nutrition from their forage, and I select for goats that thrive on this program of free choice forages. For hay, I prefer a grass/legume mix like timothy/alfalfa or timothy/clover. Of course, add in browsing on living plant matter and field crops. I am cautious about feeding straight alfalfa because the high calcium inhibits iodine uptake (thyroid issues), suppresses magnesium, the high protein can stress kidneys, the high calcium suppresses copper and zinc (can actually cause calcium deficiency or calcium deposits in the body), and the minerals can contribute to the formation of stones/calculi. For grain, my favorites are oats and barley, as they are the least likely to be genetically modified (GM). I will only feed corn from trusted sources, as most corn is now GM and heavily sprayed with herbicides.

Proteins. A quick rule of thumb for proteins. In my experience, animals are growing their fastest when nursing. So to determine the maximum protein level that should exist in their diet when protein demand is highest (growing kids, lactating does), look at their mother’s milk, especially in the first month of lactation when still producing colostrum. For goat, milk crude protein varies fairly widely, not going higher than about 5% at birth and dropping to 3-4%. So your typical goat with average protein demand likely needs no more than 5% total protein in the diet. Because goats are ruminants, protein is also required to provide nitrogen to feed the rumen bacteria. Excess protein cannot be stored, and can put strain on the kidneys during excretion.

Vitamins. Much good basic information exists on vitamins. Additonally, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, meaning these vitamins can accumulate in the body and become toxic if overfed. Also, goats make their own vitamin A (made from beta-carotene in green plants, stored in the liver), B (made by micro organisms in the rumen), C (made in body tissue), D (made in skin, requires sun exposure) and K (made by micro organisms in the rumen).

Minerals. Minerals are a favorite topic of mine. The macro, or major minerals, are Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K) and Sodium (Na). The trace minerals are Boron (B), Cobalt (Co), Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), Iodine (I), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), Selenium (Se), Vanadium (V) and Zinc (Zn). Minerals are sometimes referred to as organic or inorganic. Inorganic minerals are elemental minerals or mineral salts. Organic minerals are minerals bonded to amino acids. Plants are the original chelators, turning inorganic minerals into organic chelated minerals. Browsing and grazing animals do best on a mixture of organic and inorganic minerals (humans need organic). There are many different manufacturing processes to create chelated minerals. The cheaper processes often do not complete the chelation reaction, leaving a mix of chelated and non-chelated minerals, or create larger molecules bigger than 1500 daltons, too big to be absorbed. In order of least available to most, or ease of absorbtion:

  • Oxides (about 1% absorbable) 
  • Sulfates and carbonates (about 15% absorbable) 
  • Proteinates
  • Amino acid chelates (about 80% absorbable, small size of 800 daltons)
For my goats, I prefer a mix of 1/3 amino acid chelates and 2/3 sulfates and carbonates.

 Most importantly, all parts of a goat’s diet act synergistically and antagonistically. This means some substances enhance the use of others (synergy) and other substances inhibit the use of others (antagony). So beware of singling out a single vitamin or mineral, without taking into account the entire program. For example, iron suppresses copper. So, is your goat copper deficient because of a lack of copper, or because of high iron soil? Rice bran is high in phytates and phosphorus, which tie up calcium and zinc. So is your goat calcium deficient, or overloaded with phosphorus?

 I have found there are no simple, one-size-fits-all answers to goat nutrition. Take into account all parts of your goats diet and environment, find a supplement you can trust, and build from there. For my goats, I have 2 basic feeding programs, one for the production goats and one for the show goats. My production goats (I produce show-quality pets and breeding stock) get oats or barley, black oil sunflower seeds, timothy/clover hay, browse and my favorite supplements. My show goats get my favorite supplements, a pelleted grain ration instead of plain grain, and some extra cold extruded soybean pellets for the fat/protein. 

 These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your goat’s health program.

Copyright Carrie Eastman, 2016


The Albion Chelated Minerals by Judy Sinner 1999
Minerals: Right on Target by Steven N. Harvey 1987