Monday, December 9, 2013

Copper revisited, and a bit more about chelates and compounds for you science folks

Copper revisited, and a bit more about chelates and compounds for you science folks
by Carrie Eastman

In order to talk about supplementing goats with copper, let's first understand what copper is.
Copper is a metal element, important for many functions in the body.
Copper can exist in several forms.
Elemental copper Cu is copper all by itself and very reactive
Copper compounds are copper bonded to other elements, such as copper sulfate or copper oxide.
Copper can also bond to protein, making copper proteinate.
Finally, copper can form a true chelate with amino acids.  A true chelate is defined by low molecular weight, one bond ionic and one covalent, and the electrical charge neutralized.  You can learn more about the science of chelation at

The next important point to realize is that the body has the ability to chelate minerals that are ingested.  Chelation happens in the liver.   This process takes time and energy and amino acid resources, and is not always completed for every elemental metal that makes it into the system.

So, having established some of the basics, let's circle back to how copper gets into a goat.
First the goat eats something containing copper.  This would include copper boluses.

  • If the goat ate elemental copper Cu, which is very reactive and unlikely to exist without being bonded, then the elemental copper will either react with ingredients in the gut, preventing absorption, or would be absorbed .
  • If the goat ate a copper compound (for example copper oxide Cu2O) or copper proteinate, the copper is split away from whatever it is bonded to in the gut during digestion.  This splitting leaves behind elemental copper to react or be absorbed.  (Cu2O is split into Cu and oxygen)
  • If the goat ate amino acid chelated copper, the copper is not highly reactive and does not have to be split apart.  The copper can be easily absorbed.

*Now remember, elemental copper Cu is very reactive.  It is just as likely to react with ingredients in the gut as it is to absorb.  The only copper stable enough to resist reacting with other items in the gut and be absorbed is amino acid chelated copper.

Absorption takes place place through the mucosa that lines the digestive tract, into the blood stream or into the lymph.

The lymph and blood carry the minerals and nutrients to the liver.

The liver regulates copper levels in the bloodstream, as well as stores copper reserves for times when copper supply is low.  If the liver has more copper than is needed, the extra copper is excreted in the bile and passes out of the body in the feces.  The liver also bonds the elemental copper to proteins, mainly ceruloplasmin, and also albumin and some other proteins.  Copper MUST be bonded to a protein by the liver to be used by the body after it is absorbed from the digestive tract.

Remember, elemental copper that isn't bonded is very reactive.  Copper that isn't bonded to a protein floats free in the bloodstream, and because it has a positive charge and is reactive, it causes oxidative stress (think internal rust) or it looks for something to bond with and then deposits in unintended locations, especially the brain and reproductive organs.  Bonding elemental copper to ceruloplasmin takes energy, the correct supply of amino acids, and depends on the reactive elemental making it to the liver without reacting with something it meets along the way.  Not all elemental copper will make it to the liver to be bonded to ceruloplasmin.

All copper that makes it into the gut and is absorbed will either be absorbed as an amino acid chelate, highly stable and ready to use, or will be absorbed as a very reactive elemental copper  Cu molecule.

So the form of the copper ingested determines whether or not the copper can be absorbed and how easily it is absorbed.

The health of the liver then determines whether the absorbed copper is used for health, or creates toxic issues in the body.

In nature, goats eat copper in a variety of compounds and chelates and generally do just fine.  So why do goats get into trouble with copper toxicity?  Because goats in nature are not being fed large quantites of copper compounds as happens with domestic goats being fed feeds and supplements containing these compounds.

Copper supplementation for goats is still a topic of much debate and discussion, and there has been less research than on the copper needs of sheep, cattle and horses.  In Europe, copper needs for dairy goats have been established.

Here are some key points I have found out about copper.  I am not listing all the various citations after each point.  You can google the topics and find citations to back up any of these statements, unless otherwise indicated:
  • The form of copper is critical.  Copper oxides are very hard to absorb and use.  Copper sulfates are more absorbable.  Copper proteinate is even more absorbable.  Copper amino acid chelate is the most absorbable.  Amino acid chelated copper also catalyzes the uptake of the more unabsorbable forms.  Amino acid chelated copper is the only form of copper that does not have to be broken apart in the gut into elemental copper Cu.
  • Other minerals can inhibit or enable copper uptake.  What you feed the copper with is just as important as the copper itself, and this includes your water, pasture, hay and grain.
  • Iron is a copper inhibitor.  If you live in an area of high iron soil, you are more likely to need additional copper.
  • Zinc is also closely tied to copper, and to iron.  As is sulfur.  All minerals are connected.  Focusing on just one will drive you crazy, and leave your goats with too much or too little of something.
  • Goats need more copper than sheep.  Feeding a supplement designed for sheep will lead to copper deficiency and health issues.
  • Goats likely need as much copper as cattle, possibly more.
  • Copper has the potential to accumulate in the liver, and if the animal is stressed, release suddenly causing a severe health crisis.
Some thoughts on the research establishing copper requirements in goats:
  • The research should consider the form the copper is in, as some forms are more likely to accumulate rather than flush from the body.
  • Mineral interactions are so complex, can one mineral truly be isolated in a study?
Here are several links I found:

So, all of this being said, what I have chosen to do at Oak Hill for our goats is based on all of the information above, plus anecdotal information from various goat keepers, combined with muscle testing to tailor the nutrition to my herd and environment.  At Oak Hill, I have 2 basic feed programs - one for animals that are breeding, pregnant or lactating and one for the resting season and wethers.  My program is discussed in detail here and here and here.

You can find the Dynamite products at 

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, December 5, 2013

Salt for goats

Salt For Goats
by Carrie Eastman

One of the key supplements for goats.
And so often misused, underused, overused, or used in ways the goats cannot utilize.
So, let's learn about salt.

First, when folks say salt, the mineral that is really being referred to is sodium.  Salt is sodium chloride NaCl.  Sodium is very reactive, and never found in nature by itself as Na.  When salt is eaten, the body splits the sodium and chloride apart.  For you science-minded folks, here is a sodium link for more details.

Salt is critical for good health.  Salt is used to maintain the fluid and mineral balance between the outside and the inside of the cells in the body.  Inside the cell potassium is higher and outside sodium is higher.  Salt levels in the blood drop as the body transmutes sodium to potassium to maintain that balance.  The salt the goats eat restores the blood salt levels and keeps the cells balanced.

Salt also activates the first digestive enzyme in the mouth, salivary amylase. In the parietal cells of the stomach wall, sodium chloride generates hydrochloric acid, one of the most important of all digestive secretions.

This delicate balance between sodium and potassium in the body is the reason that salt should not be force fed or withheld.  Allowing goats to choose how much to consume each day lets them maintain their sodium balance.  How much salt is enough salt for a goat?  Well, that really depends on the goat, the diet, the current temperature, stress levels, etc.  Basically, the goat will eat as much or as little as is necessary for good health.  Sometimes that is just a nibble.  Sometimes that can be some very large quantities, ounces per day.  So it is very important to provide plenty of fresh water, and to provide salt that is not mixed with other supplements, feed or additives that could limit or artificially encourage consumption.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Goats & Parasites - updated information

Goats & Parasites
by Carrie Eastman

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?

I cannot say enough about the importance of copper.  Goats must have healthy copper levels to fight off parasites.  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.  Copper can be added to feed, offered free choice or bolused.  I personally prefer free choice, so the goat can choose the most appropriate levels.  I have used both copper sulfate dissolved in water as a free choice and dry copper sulfate added to my free choice mineral mix.   Boluses are also very popular among many producers.  Some breeders prefer to bolus smaller doses several times a year to keep the copper levels more consistent.  Here is an excellent article about copper boluses   I continue to experiment with the best approach to copper for my herd.  In general, I feel the research supports that chelated minerals are safer because the excess is easier to excrete.  That being said, copper sulfate has years of use behind it as a free choice option for goats and other livestock.  Each producer has to watch their herd and make their own informed decisions about copper.  If parasites are a problem, the coat is looking bleached out, the hair is fishhooked at the end, or the goat's tail looks like a fishtail, these are all signs of copper deficiency.  In general, animals with black skin will need up to 8 times more copper than animals with pink skin.

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


*Moxidectin (moxidectin has a very narrow margin or error and should not be used on overweight or underweight animals)

*In order by reported deaths in any species, 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 (paramagnetic) which attracts positively-charged toxins and repels parasites (parasites are diamagnetic).  Parasites cannot become resistant to clay.  My favorite pelleted grain ration, my favorite browser/grazer mix; and free choice calcium-phosphorus mixes are all products that contain clay.

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.)  Parasites cannot become resistant to DE.  Goats should not breath in DE dust, so the DE should be dampened with water or otherwise kept from becoming dusty.  I personally mix DE into my free choice minerals, at a rate of 2 cups DE for every 5 pounds of mineral.

I use and love a combination product that contains DE, clay and prebiotics.  Excel can be topdressed or milled into feed.

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 sells herbal dewormers and has a good section on parasites. I personally use my favorite herbal detoxifier, except on pregnant does.  In general herbal dewormers should be given as needed, rather than by the calendar, as parasites can develop resistance to herbs also.  Some herbs are not safe during pregnancy, so use professionally prepared mixes or consult with a master herbalist.

Many folks find that pumpkin guts, especially the seeds, are effective against parasites. Acorns, certain types of pine, garlic, cloves,black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) and lespedeza are all mentioned as being effective against parasites.

Here is an excellent article on the effectiveness of lespedeza.

 This link leads to an excellent article on parasite control written by a well-known veterinarian homeopath.

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 prebiotic that balances gut pH and encourages healthy gut flora. Also consider adding zeolite (I like ACZ Nano brand) and/or montmorillonite clay or clay/diatomaceous earth 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 parasite life cycle. Certain fertilizers can trigger premature egg hatching, killing the parasites.

Feeding the goats from feeders and hay racks rather than on the ground makes a big difference in parasite exposure also.

In summary, my personal parasite control program is daily DE and clay.  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 the herbal detoxifier, clay and diatomaceous earth for 7 days (except on pregnant does).  I use a prebiotic during and after the 7 day herbal program.

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.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Adding Muscle & Fat to Goats

Adding Muscle & Fat To Goats
by Carrie Eastman

Folks talk about putting weight on a goat. First let’s talk about what they really mean. Adding weight can mean adding fat, or can mean adding muscle. The strategies for adding fat or adding muscle are different.

Adding fat: Goats store fat under the skin (subcutaneous) and in the abdominal cavity (visceral fat). Goat do not develop marbled meat when they gain fat. Increasing fat weight means adding fat under the skin and in the abdominal cavity. To add fat to a goat, you feed more calories that the goat is burning. The most concentrated calorie sources are grains (carbohydrates) and fats. High-carbohydrate low-fat grains like corn, oats and barley produce an insulin spike while the body digests them, then the body actually spends energy to convert the extra calories into fat stores. Large grain meals also have the potential to create digestion problems such as acidosis and enterotoxemia . Fatty grains, nuts and oils are digested and used more slowly for energy, and are more easily converted by the body into fat stores. Looking at the diet of wild goats, or foraging domestic goats, the diet is generally low in carbohydrates and sugars, and also fairly low in fats, except for seeds and nuts. Black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) are about 40% fat. However, the fats in BOSS are mostly omega-6 fats, which can cause inflammation in the body. BOSS is also very high in phosphorus, so a free-choice mineral buffet or very careful ration balancing is necessary.  I have fed 100 pound goats anywhere from a handful to a cup of BOSS daily.  BOSS can be fed dry, soaked or sprouted. Soybeans are typically around 8% fat, and a moderate fat source. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in soybeans is more balanced and less likely to cause inflammation.  I use a cold-extruded soybean pellet and feed just a handful to a 100 pound goat.  More can be safely fed, though even a full-size Boer show goat should not need more than a cup daily.  My preferred soybean pellets can be fed dry or soaked.  Chia seeds are about 31% fat and have an excellent omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. (The drawback to chia is the expense.) Chia is fed by the ounce (very roughly 2 tablespoons).  One ounce daily for a 100 pound goat should be sufficient, although more can be given.  I prefer to feed chia dry, rather than soaked.  Alfalfa, at only 2% fat, is a less-efficient calorie source.  Goats will also forage for wild nuts if given the option.  Some wild nuts like acorns will be very high in tannins.  While tannins do have some effect on parasites, too much tannin can be toxic, so make sure your goats cannot gorge on the wild nuts.

Adding muscle: Proteins are used to build muscle. Proteins are chains of amino acids. Of the 22 amino acids, 10 are important for muscle building, with lysine, threonine and arginine being most important. Lysine is highest in soybeans and alfalfa, making those feeds the best way to bring up the protein level and build muscle. Soybean is 26% protein minimum and alfalfa can range from 15-25% protein depending on maturity. Black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) are about 22% protein, but are low in lysine and the other muscle-building amino acids, so BOSS is not the best muscle building option. Chia seeds are 23% protein and high in lysine and would be great for adding muscle. Rice bran and rice bran pellets are high in lysine. However, rice bran may have solvent residue from the oil extraction process and rice is the most polluted grain crop right now. Rice is heavily irrigated, and picks up the pollutants in the irrigation water and from the soils, including heavy metals like lead and cadmium. All rice has been found to have arsenic (horse dealers used to feed arsenic to make the horses fat and shiny, and the horses would then quickly lose weight and die after being sold). Another good source of muscle-building proteins are supplements with high amino acid content, like regular formula horse Dynamite.

Now here is where it gets really interesting. The quality of soybeans, alfalfa, BOSS and grains can vary considerably. In the case of soybeans, the majority of soybeans sold in the US today are genetically modified, also called GMO. GMOs are a controversial topic, and each goat person must do their own research and make their own decision. For myself, I feel there are enough studies available now showing the harm GMOs can cause, especially to the very important gut organisms, that I will not feed any GMO products. Soybeans need to be heat treated before feeding as well, to a fairly specific temperature. Too hot, and you reduce the nutritional value. Too cool and the trypsin inhibitors are still active, which makes the soybean toxic. Additionally, most soybean in livestock feed these days is soybean meal, which means the oils have been solvent-extracted. This reduces the fat content and potentially leaves behind a solvent residue.

Alfalfa has also recently become available as a GMO crop and has the same potential drawbacks as other GMO crops.

BOSS is sometimes treated to inhibit sprouting, either by cooking or with chemical sprays. If in doubt, soak a handful and see if they sprout in a couple days. Healthy BOSS suitable for feeding should sprout.

Among the grains, oats and barley are still fairly chemical-free and not yet available as GMOs. Barley does need to be rolled to remove the pointy awn at the end of the seed. The quality of barley and oats depends on the health of the soil they are grown in. Look for large, heavy plump grains, and if possible, check with the local farmer to see what sort of fertilizer program is followed. The standard N-P-K approach to fertilizer does not put sufficient minerals back into the soil.

Corn is almost entirely GMO at this point. ‘Nuff said. Look for organic corn, or heirloom corn varieties.

Calf manna is a popular feed these days for goats. The label tells an interesting story. The first ingredient is soybean meal (byproduct of solvent extraction soybean oil process), not whole heat-treated soybeans. The second ingredient is corn, followed by hominy feed, which is processed corn. All of which will be GMO.  Calf manna also contains flax, which can be a thyroid inhibitor.

So, what do I feed to my goats to build muscle or add body fat?

I use a combination of a pelleted grain ration and cold-extruded soybean pellets. The grain ration contains corn, oats and barley. The company avoids GMOs, and their grain mill is entirely chemical-free. The whole extruded non-GMO soybean pellets are cooked to the correct temperature. I also feed locally-grown non-GMO alfalfa, and BOSS. The pelleted grain ration also contains montmorrillonite clay as a pellet binder, which helps absorb any environmental toxins and also repels internal parasites. I also offer my goats a pinch of my favorite regular vitamin/mineral  pellets for horses, which is high in amino acids.

If I did not have access to these specific products, I would feed local organic roasted soybeans or chia seeds (to build muscle) and BOSS (for the fats), and add oats, barley and/or organic or heirloom feed corn as needed. I would mill in or topdress montmorrillonite clay. I would also make 10% of their daily hay ration non-gmo alfalfa hay. If I still needed to build more muscle, I would also add a multivitamin mineral supplement with lysine, threonine and arginine.

Want to learn how to muscle test or dowse for which fat source best suits your own goats?
Interested in more information about feed label interpretation?

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.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Environmental Toxins

Goats & Environmental Toxins
by Carrie Eastman

Having worked as an environmental regulator for 16 years, this is a topic dear to my heart. Even 20 years ago, this was not a major concern. Today, things are different. Our animals are exposed to:
  • lead from old paint
  • pesticides and herbicides that blow in from neighboring farms or are in the feed & hay
  • aluminum and other metals in galvanized stock tanks
  • mercury from industry
  • ethoxyquin in black rubber buckets and feed tubs
  • lead and mold inhibitors from garden hoses
  • chemicals in fly sprays, vaccines, and dewormers
  • and now radioactive fallout from Japan

Any feed or hay produced these days, even organically, will have a toxin load from airborn fallout and rainwater.These toxins build up in the body over time, and are not easy to spot. This non-acute or non-lethal exposure affects all the body systems and is passed to offspring through mother's milk, as well as actually affecting the DNA.Possible symptoms include: allergies, agression/behavioral disorders, anemia, bone & joint disorders, cancer, diabetes, infertility, skin problems,thyroid problems, infections and birth defects. This exposure is why all my animals and my family get regular liver cleanses.

 We also do heavy metal cleanses because the liver does not recognize and filter out all the heavy metals. Historically, chelation therapy was considered the best way to remove the metals. However, it was mainly used on people, is very expensive, and can be risky. There is now another approach available. Zeolites are a naturally occuring crystalline mineral found in rock deposits and formed by volcanic activity. Zeolites attract and bind toxic particles such as heavy metals, radioactive particles and certain other toxins. Zeolites have also been shown to help balance blood sugar levels, balance the body's pH and support healthy immune function. Several forms of zeolite are commercially available. Always look for zeolite that has been cleaned and has particle sizes below 8 microns, so that it reaches the bloodstream.  Read more about my personal favorite brand here.  I add the drops to the feed, scaling the dose down by bodyweight, as the dose on the package is for an average weight person.

I also use clay and herbs to cleanse the liver and digestive tract of my animals and family regularly.  The horses and dogs typically get get a 28 day cleanse in spring and fall.  The goats at least get the fall cleanse.  The humans use clay weekly, and herbs as needed based on muscle testing.  I use clay, a clay blend and also an herbal detoxifier.  I especially make sure to do a cleanse before goat breeding season starts, as I want my kids conceived from the cleanest genetic stock possible. Please contact me if you have more questions about toxins and my experiences with detoxification.   The dosages for horses and dogs are right on the labels.  For goats, I give 1 teaspoon of the herbal detoxifer per 40 pounds bodyweight in their feed twice daily for 10 to 14 days, making sure I catch the full moon somewhere around day 5 to 7.  My goats get clay daily, as it is in their free choices and pelleted grain ration.  Otherwise, I would give the goats 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon daily of my favorite "miracle" clay in their feed daily (either can be milled into a custom feed mix also).  I also use a clay blend that contains digestive aids and diatomaceous earth.

A nice side benefit from the clay, clay blend and herbal detoxifier is that all have anecdotally been reported to coincide with negative fecal tests. Clay and diatomaceous earth are the only 2 substances that parasites cannot adapt to, no matter how often you use them. 
You can find my favorite products at 

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.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Some quick thoughts about ketones, ketosis and ketoacidosis

Quick Thoughts About Ketones, Ketosis and Ketoacidosis In Goats
by Carrie Eastman
Ketosis is a normal biological process especially during pregnancy when the body burns fats for energy.  Ketones are produced when fats are burned. Where the goat (or any animal) gets into trouble is when the ketones are produced faster than they can be filtered by the kidneys and excreted.  The ketones in the bloodstream then overwhelm the body's blood pH buffering mechanism, which is mainly bicarbonates.  The blood then becomes too acid, which is called ketoacidosis.  Also there is a link between ketosis and insulin production, with the progesterone of pregnancy perhaps inhibiting insulin production.The standard remedies for ketosis and ketoacidosis are oral glucose and increasing the grain (carbohydrate) ration. Some additional thoughts to ponder:   if the problem is kidneys being overwhelmed, then supporting the kidneys with alkalizing minerals and/or herbs could be helpful.  Also, electrolytes to encourage water consumption might also be helpful.  Finally, minimizing kidney stress by reducing protein and nitrogen would make sense.  If the blood becomes acidic after the buffering bicarbonates are overwhelmed, then perhaps having adequate mineral reserves to support buffering would be a helpful preventative.  To balance the pH of the blood and body alkalizing herbs or minerals could be used.  If lack of insulin is part of the problem, then chromium and cinnamon to stabilize blood sugar could be useful.
My favorite electrolyte encourages drinking and provides sugars and is made with molasses, which is an excellent source of minerals and slowly-metabolized glucose
I also have a favorite herbal blend that is alkalizing and supports kidney function.
See my annual nutrition calendar for my base program that insures good mineral reserves.

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, May 24, 2013

Oak Hill is evolving...

As the goat herd has grown, horses have come and sadly gone (RIP Poco) and I have learned more about soils and healthy land, the layout and approach at Oak Hill has continued to evolve.

This is a picture of the original pasture layout and dry tracks for the horses:

This is the layout now:

Pastures 1 through 4 are a mix of grasses, clovers, herbs and useful weeds.  These are rotated between the goats and horses.  Pastures 5 and 6 are browse just for the goats, with a variety of hardwoods, some pine, and lots of honeysuckle and multiflora rose. 
Watch for posts coming soon about pasture rotation, the mix of herbs and weeds, a discussion of salad bar goats and results of the latest soil tests.

Oak Hill continues to evolve...

As the goat herd has grown, horses have come and sadly gone (RIP Poco) and I have learned more about soils and healthy land, the layout and approach at Oak Hill has continued to evolve.

This is a picture of the original pasture layout and dry tracks for the horses:

Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Kidding season is over!

So, the 2013 kidding season is over.  I always have mixed feelings at this time.  No more late nights, worries about does, wondering what the season will bring.  On the other hand, no more exciting moments of seeing new babies come into the world - what color? what sex? eyes color? horns?  1 or 2?  It's like my birthday and Yule all bundled together.

So, this year was a bit bittersweet. 

We lost Myst.  Very large kid, not formed correctly and neck bent back.  No way to save either of them.  RIP Myst - you are very missed.

Winky lost her twins after nibbling something she shouldn't have (probably a cedar that grew up in the pasture unnoticed).  A boy and a girl.  She cleaned them and tried to help them start their lives.  It was just too early.

And then the joyous events.  We had 6 lovely polled doelings and 1 buckling.  Yes, 6!  And I promised Chryssy she could keep her daughter if she had one this year, as she really truly is retired now after this season.  No matter how much she begs when breeding season rolls around.  (Just gotta keep reminding myself of that...)  So Chryssy has last year's Fancy Pants and this year's Butterscotch to keep her company in her retirement.

And Truffle - well, I promised her a daughter this year too.  She's had such lovely kids I've sold them each year.  So this year she gets to keep the newest addition to the herd, finally, and start her own little family group.  She hasn't told me her name yet.  She's fiesty and loud and tiny and has the LONGEST legs.

Carlotta had a lovely buckling, Bouncing Boo.  I suspect we will look for a loving home for him (more on that later).

Harley had 2 daughters, Ebony and "V".  "V" is the blue doeling I always wanted.  And Ebony has just about perfect conformation.  So how to choose?  Hmmm...they may both end up staying...

Lexi had a lovey daughter.  Lexi was not such a great mom, sadly.  Her daughter has gone to Goat Flower Farm to be pampered by Carol Ellis and her family.  We'll see if Lexi gets the hang of motherhood next year.  I hope so...

Mimsy had a gorgeous peacock doeling.  My last breeding to Cocoa Puff before he left for his new home.  Gosh, peacock AND the last of Cocoa Puff's kids, and only one daughter of Mimsy here.  Hmm...all good reasons for little Mystery  to stay as well.

So, now back to Boo.  He's good enough to keep.  Except that I went down to Dancing Bear Farm in West Virginia to pick up a buckling I fell in love with online.  That would be Minstrel In The Gallery aka Jethro.  Well, after getting a look at the amazing goats in Susan Soeder's herd, I came home with Jethro AND Tank.  So back to Boo - looks like he'll be placed in a good home, as I really am maxed out on bucks now.  Really.  Truly.  I'll just keep telling myself that.  

So Cocoa Puff the buck has moved on to a lovely home.  Folks came to buy Boo and fell in love with Cocoa Puff.  It was meant to be.  He looks so happy in his new home.
So that wraps up the 2013 season.  I'll make my decisions about selling selling Ebony and Mystery and Boo over the next few weeks.  Meanwhile, if someone absolutely falls in love with one of them, well, it may just be destiny, so let me know.  Until then, I'll enjoy all the kids and their crazy antics.

Watch for my next post on banding buckling horns, spring Herbal Tonic for parasites, free choice copper and more.

Make it a bountiful spring!

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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Kidding Season partway over!

Harley x Gandalf polled brown-eyed doeling

Harley x Gandalf polled brown-eyed doeling

Lexi x Astro Boy polled blue-eyed doeling SOLD

Chryssy x Dreamer polled brown-eyed doeling RETAINED

Carlotta x Astro Boy horned blue-eyed buckling
Mimsy and Truffle are still due.

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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kidding, new bucks & Runa

2013 kidding season has officially started!  The first buckling was born on Saturday, February 23 just as I was leaving for West Virginia to pick up our new buckling.  Does have a sense of humor.
So this is Boo, short for Peekaboo.  Blue eyes, maybe polled, black with some white.  I'm still deciding whether he will be for sale.
Meanwhile, I fell in love with a buckling at Dancing Bear Farm in West Virginia.   From the day Susan Soeder posted his picture, I just knew this was my buck.  This is Dancing Bear Farm Minstrel In The Gallery, barn name Jethro.

So off to West Virginia I went, to pick up my amazing Jethro. This is what I returned with...

Meet Jethro AND Dancing Bear Darkside Eclipse, barn name Tank.  Both are blue eyed and built like Mack trucks.  When they are a bit older, they will be dehorned, per Oak Hill safety policy.  Dancing Bear stock are selected for thriftiness, hardiness, and high meat to bone ratio, ideal for the homestead market.  I'm really excited to add these genetics to our chemical-free and vaccine-free program.   Meanwhile, Runa continues to grow and learn to be friends will all the creatures at Oak Hill.  Here is Runa with her chickens.

Stay tuned for more kid pictures as kidding season progresses!

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, January 20, 2013

Runa update - some new lessons, and playtime!

Daisy, our oldest dog, playing with Runa in the house this morning.  Daisy is enjoying having a puppy around (she has had pups herself).  The morning dog play lets Runa use up her play energy before going out with the goats, and possibly roughing up the yearlings.

So, Runa is now 26 pounds and I swear her legs are longer too.  She is getting my favorite premium dog food and supplements.  Growing steadily, yet not getting too fat or too thin.

We've had a couple learning experiences recently.  Remember my post about learning to stay back at the door?  Well, the first few times I was putting the other dogs out and insisted that she stay back by pushing her back with my foot, she growled at me and bit my leg.  Instant alpha roll.  I asked her again.  Another growl, but no bite. Another immediate alpha roll.  Third time - another growl, and another roll.  And after that she accepted the request, and has not growled about being held back since.  It only took the one session, and today she still remembers and accepts when I need to move her back from something.  I think the long-term solution to this one may be to teach her Wait first.  Once she has Wait down, then we can do Wait at the doorway.  Then add Wait with the other dogs going out.  Chunk it down.  I do know that every single time Runa and I go through any gate or door, I MUST go through first, no matter how tired, or busy, or distracted I am.  No exceptions.  The leader always goes through the door first.  And I have slipped on that one.

Then there was the feeding lesson.  Runa suddenly got food protective and growled at my hand when it came near her bowl.  Instant alpha roll.  Another try, another growl and her teeth on my hand, another alpha roll.  And that was it.  On my third attempt, she tolerated my hand.  As a longer-term solution, rather than dump all her food in the bowl at once, I now add it to the bowl 1 handful at a time, leaving my closed fist in the bowl until she stops holding her breath, then I open my hand and let her eat from my hand.  Or I put the handful in the bowl, then reach in with another handful and add to the food already there.  Basically showing in many ways that when my hand is in her bowl, she gets good eats.  So far it's working, and she has not growled or tensed again.

So, a couple thoughts on alpha rolling.  This is a controversial subject, and honestly, a technique I'm not happy about using.  I have figured out a positive way to overcome the food guarding, so no need to do any more alpha rolls over that one.  I'm sure that there is a positive way to set Runa up for success at the door also, so that she WANTS to stay back, and I can do away with any conflict there as well.  At the times I rolled her, I had to make a very quick decision how to handle a growl & bite, from a puppy that is bred to be stubborn and independent and intelligent, and who will be VERY big someday.  With hindsight, I should have seen that she was tensing/holding her breath, side-stepped the entire issue, and then figured out a different way to approach the situation.  And that IS how I will handle it next time.  I am sharing honestly here about how I handled it, in hopes that it someday helps someone else facing the same dilemma.  I have worked with other breeds before - retrievers, collies, huskies, labradors, a border collie.  Runa is my first Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD), deliberately bred to think independently and defy her humans if she thinks it's in the best interest of her livestock.  So learning to handle that genetic defiance is a whole new process for me.  This blog had some interesting thoughts on the different dog training methods, especially Caesar Millan and Tamar Geller.

Her house manners continue to improve.  She has mostly learned to tell the difference between her chew toys and our possessions.  She tells me when she needs to go out to go to the bathroom, and I've learned to anticipate the timing now.  She slept through the night for the first time last night.  She had been waking up once to drink and go out.

And her off-leash time is great!  She stays right with me, comes when I call her, and so far is respectful of the cats and chickens.  Of course, off-leash is closely supervised, as a treat, and at a time when I know she has been missing me and is eager to stay close.  Setting her up for success!

Yesterday she ducked under the electric fence and got loose.  She stayed right in the barnyard with her animals, and was waiting for me when I got out there.  Which is very good news, as she could have gone wandering, or could have left her animals to come up to the house.  So that tells me she is recognizing the boundaries, and has instincts for staying with her animals.

So many good lessons for us both! 

And, of course, something new to learn about...
This morning when I fed Runa, the does came over to investigate her food and Runa growled, barked, then nipped when some got their noses in there.  Not sure if this is a good behavior or not.  Time to do more research.

Until next post, happy puppy kisses!

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA or AVMA, 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, January 17, 2013

Kidding preparation and supplies

Goat Kidding Prep and Supplies
by Carrie Eastman

With kidding season approaching, time to get the kidding kit ready.

Homeopathic remedies, all 30C potency:
Cimicifuga - dilates cervix, for lack of progress at any stage of labor
Pulsatilla - turns kid if positioned incorrectly, must be used prior to labor, no effect if kid is correct. 1 dose every 2 hours up to 6 doses max
Arnica - helps with swelling, bruising, sore muscles after

Kid sweaters, just in case.  I made mine from old sweater sleeves.  The cuff becomes the neck hole.  Cut leg holes and hemmed up the leg holes and cut sleeve edge.  For boy babies, make the top longer and the belly shorter to make sure the penis isn't covered by the sweater or it will be soaked.

Goat milker, like EZ Milker or this homemade milker
DIY goat milker

Colostrum & milk replacer (I will confess I do not stock these.  There is usually a doe available to snitch colostrum from if I would need to, and I haven't had a nursing issue yet with any of my does)

My favorite electrolyte to mix in warm water and offer right after kidding.

Get your heat lamps hooked up and tested.  No cords or bulbs within reach of goats.  Be very very careful - lamps can easily start a fire and kill your goat family if they are locked in the lamp area.

Fresh straw or hay bedding in the stall, and more bedding ready to replace any wet areas after kidding.

Scissors if you need to cut any extra dangling umbilical cord.  I do not cut unless it is dragging on the ground.

Dental floss or thread to tie cord if needed, and iodine or tea tree oil to dip cord end.  I normally do not dip or tie or cut the cord.  I have these on hand, in case I would need to for some reason.

Blood stop powder, Yunan Pao, my favorite liquid trace minerals, styptic powder.  Have some means to stop catastrophic bleeding.  You will likely never need this.  If you ever do, seconds will count.

Clean bath towels for drying kids, wiping yourself off.  Use unscented laundry detergent and no fabric softener.  Best not to add strong smells while mom is bonding with her kids.

Hand disinfectant, in case you have to go inside a doe.  K-Y jelly for the same reason.  If I do go inside a doe, I dose her with chelated colloidal silver that day, and for several days after.

A head lamp.   A hands-free source of bright light in the middle of the night is invaluable.

I also use flower essence sprays.  One spray is used orally for fear.  Helps a stressed-out doe, and if accidentally ingested by her person, can help a stressed out assistant as well.  The other spray is topical, used for pain and swelling.  Great around the vulva during and after birth.

Generally speaking, I'm a minimalist during kidding.  Myotonic goats are known for hardiness, good kidding and good mothering.  While I won't stand by and watch mom or kids die, I prefer to let nature take its course as much as possible and stay hands-off.

I do lock does in a kidding stall with fresh water and hay, separate from the other does, if kidding will occur at night or in cold weather.  Otherwise, I let the doe choose her spot, and make sure there are plenty of clean areas to choose from.

I do not offer a full grain meal until the day after kidding, just hay and water and electrolytes.  I will give a tablespoon of grain soaked with  prebiotic after the doe is done cleaning up, or add the prebiotic to the electrolyte water.

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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DIY hay & mineral feeders for goats

DIY Hay and Mineral Feeders For Goats
by Carrie Eastman

This is a collection of hay and mineral feeders I have built over the years for the horses and goats.  As I find more old photos, or make new projects, I'll add to the collection.

Any hay rack that I put in the goat pen must be easily cut apart or unscrewed for safety.   Not sure how I'd get a goat loose if it was stuck between welded metal bars on a rack...

So far, I haven't found any hay nets safe for goats, although I'm told the slow-feeder hay nets with the tiny holes can work safely.

This newest hay rack was built entirely from salvaged lumber from hurricane Sandy and some house remodeling, and finished up with leftover paint.  Cost me about $1 in screws.  The legs are made of an X of lumber, with the bottom of the X set much wider for stability.  It holds 1 standard 50 lb bale of hay.
My most recent project - large hay rack for the bucks
Back side of hay rack
Trash can hay feeder for goats
Worked great for does - bucks destroyed it

Wall mounted

This is a mineral feeder.  Used a silicon muffin mold for the mineral cups, as the metal molds rust out from the salt.  put the mold inside a wooden box to keep the goats from standing on/in it or pooping in it.  Held up for several years, before someone tore a corner off the mold.  Still works, just missing a compartment now.

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, 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.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How I transition a goat from a typical commercial diet to the chemical-free lifestyle

Transitioning Goats To a Chemical-Free Lifestyle
by Carrie Eastman

During the first 4 months:
Our gets get black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) and some combination of plain oats and/or barley (the barley must be crimped/rolled). Not corn.  Or they get my favorite pelleted grain ration*.

I slowly blend the Oak Hill feed into the typical commercial feed, transition the mix over a few weeks until the goats were getting same amount by weight.  Use a food or feed scale for this.

During that transition, I give a prebiotic* with every grain meal.  I add extra doses during the day if the goat is struggling with the change.

After the goat is fully transitioned, I adjust the feed up or down as needed to maintain weight. Remember:  fats are for weight gain and grains are carbs and for energy.  So thin goats often need more fat (black oil sunflower seeds and/or cold extruded soybean pellets*).  To increase protein, I'll add a bit of alfalfa hay or Standlee brand alfalfa hay pellets.

Meanwhile, I start the goat on my favorite browser/grazer vitamin mineral mix*, fed free choice. I make that change as soon as I start changing the grain.

3 wide loads plus Alruna in the pasture!


Mystique - her first time

With kidding season arriving in a few weeks, I thought I'd share some doe pics.  Enjoy!

And Alruna went out in the pasture today with her does!

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, 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.

Monday, January 7, 2013

More adventures with Runa

So Runa went with me to the feed store today.  (Thank you Lehman's Feed in York Springs, PA for being so welcoming).  She had lots of puppy kisses and wiggles for the staff, and was very happy with the pig ear she picked out.  I introduced her to some new vocabulary for our trip:  "car ride" and "up"

I've been talking a fair amount with some other LGD breeders about adaptability training, and learned a few more things about our routine.

I will be setting up a dog kennel & house in the doe pen ASAP.  When the kids start arriving in 6 weeks (or less - how did that time fly by so fast???)  Runa will need to be supervised with the kids, and penned apart from them when unsupervised.  LGD puppies are sometimes too rough with young kids, and with these being myotonic kids they are even more vulnerable.  I figure someday the dog pen will turn into Runa's whelping pen, so it's a good idea all around.

I need to get more consistent about asking her to wait when I open doors or gaits, and make her wait for me to go through first.  It's so much easier to just let her run through, I confess I have taken the lazy route.  This is actually sending her the wrong message.  First, that it's ok to be leading me, rather than the other way around.  And second, that an open door or gate always means she can leave.  This could be very dangerous for her.  So I have promised myself to be more disciplined, no matter how tired or busy I am.

I also should probably start asking her to "heel" occasionally, or at least "stay close", rather than always being at the very end of the lead tugging to go forward.  While it's cute in a 22 pound puppy, at 120 pounds I'm sure it won't be cute anymore.

I can certainly add "sit" to the vocabulary, as she does it so well already on her own.  That's what happens when you're a short little pup in a human world.  Too much looking up - just gotta rest the neck and sit down. 

So many things for us both to learn and relearn.

For general training, I'm reading and rereading Tamar Geller's material, especially The Loved Dog.  I love her methods - so similar to conscious horse training.  For LGD training, I'm going by the experiences of a couple breeders who do adaptability training, and a lot of trusting my gut and listening to Runa.  So far it seems to be working.  It's a bit of a leap of faith.

I'm still giving Runa her meals in the goat pen, and only giving her meaty bones for treats in the pen as well, so the pen is associated with happy events.

Well, until next post - may your day be full of puppy or goat kisses!

Copyright ©2014 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, 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.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Alruna is bonding with her does!

So far the adaptability training seems to be working.
This morning, Runa wiggled and whined and greeted her does like friends when I took her out at sunrise.
And later I spotted her watching over her does from a good vantage point.
I think she's getting the hang of it!

We are still working on house breaking when she comes in at dark.  She's doing pretty well with the other commands, and sleeps through the night now in her crate.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Alruna update

Alruna is now out in the goat pen from sunrise to sunset, at her request.  As the days get longer, her time with the goats should naturally increase.  Yea!

The does have been accustomed enough to her to butt her if she gets too frisky, and otherwise ignore her.

Alruna has made herself a hay nest under the play equipment, and keeps her bone and food dish there.
I snuck out today, and caught her napping with one of the quietest goats.  Of course, she ran out to see me before I could get a picture.

After sunset, she comes in the house with us to socialize with the dogs and play.  She sleeps in her crate at night.  She is starting to tell me when she needs to go out to go to the bathroom.

The first kids are due in a couple weeks.  I will have a dog pen set up in the doe pen before then, so that she is not unsupervised loose in with the young kids.

So far, the experiment in adaptability is working.  She is confident and happy, and doing well with all the creatures.  We'll see how she grows!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Alruna, our Livestock Guardian Dog

Pick up day!
This is a new adventure for me, so I'm doing lots of research.  I'm a big fan of conscious horsemanship, preferring techniques like Carolyn Resnick and TTEAM/TTouch.  For dog training, I love Tamar Geller's methods.  So I'm searching for ways to work with livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) that allow a more conscious, soul-honoring approach.  And that allows the LGD to move easily between guarding stock and participating in our home life, traveling in the car and interacting politely with strangers when asked to.  I have found a lot of advice saying to have no contact with the pup, just put her in with the goats and leave her alone other than food and water, or I'll ruin her for her guard duties.  I've seen other advice to put her in with the goat, but that it's ok to work with her out there and take her in the house with us, as long as her homebase is the goat pen and she sleeps and spends most time out there.  It has also been suggested to mix the 2, leaving her alone with the goats for 2 weeks, then working on socialization.

So, I have a lot to mull over and learn. 
From reading about Great Pyr history, they originally worked with the shepards to guard flocks of livestock, as well as the shepard's family and home.  They later did guard duty for the French nobility, working side by side with the soldiers and jailers.
So, as a dog with a long history of working hand-in-hand with people to guard various things, my gut says perhaps Runa does not need to be forced into isolation in the goat pen, but instead can work with me, accompanying me on all the chores and rounds and spending lots of time around the livestock.

My approach so far has been to have a crate in the house for her.  She accompanies me on leash for all the barn chores, walks the fence line with me on leash, has supervised playtime in the house with the other dogs and her toys.  She is learning all the same commands and rules as the other dogs, including crate training and housebreaking.  Go out, in the house, go pee, good girl, phoey, no, leave it, ok, wait, come, and sit are already in her vocabulary, although she is not consistent yet. 

I put a meaty beef bone out in the goat pen, so she is excited to go out and visit the pen (and the goats) when we go outside.  I leave her in the pen for a while when I am done with chores, so she has been spending 3 or 4 chunks of time in with them, usually for a couple hours at a stretch.  And I feed the goats treats when she goes out, so the goats are learning to associate her with good things.  It has been 3 days now, and Runa is asking more and more often to go out to the goat pen and stay in there, while I leave to do other things.  This morning she wanted out at sunrise and spent several happy hours out there.

She played with the house dogs for the first time today, so they are coming to accept her.

Yum - chair leg...
I am SUPER grateful for bitter apple spray, as she has been testing the furniture.  She also thought the Christmas tree was a wonderful dog toy dispenser.  We have (mostly) convinced her otherwise.

Hopefully this approach works out well for both of us.  We'll see when her guarding instincts start kicking in at around 6 months old.

These are some links I like:  Stages of development and the focus of training at each  Another on integrating the LGD into your family & home

Pooped after a few hours in the cold snowy goat pen with her bone.
We are also doing an herbal cleanse to get rid of any residue from the deworming, flea meds and puppy food.  She is transitioned onto Taste of the Wild dog food now, and will be switching to my favorite premium dog food as soon as the new shipment arrives.  She will also be getting a bit of chelated minerals with vitamins daily.