Important Tips For Your Small Ruminants
Anyone owning livestock has experienced bringing new animals onto their farm and should have been following biosecurity protocol. There is always the expectation that things will be okay and no health problems will occur. The reality is most health problems are brought onto the farm by new animals or sick animals that are not isolated. The following information shares some ideas that can be implemented as preventative or controlled management.
A record-keeping system needs to be established in physical and/or electronic form. This will track everything from livestock inventory, housing locations, identification (ear tags), health issues and treatments, grazing paddocks, recommended medicines and dosages, etc.
Both scrapie and individual ear tags should be used on goats and sheep, whether adult, young or newborn. These ear tag numbers can be entered into the log and used for tracking, unique identification, reproduction planning, health, etc.
As new animals or returning livestock are brought onto the farm, they should be isolated from the herd for 30 days or more until they are confirmed as healthy. Before being released into isolation area, each animal should receive:
Initial application of ear tags and scrapie tags and documenting each animal’s ear tag number, and health treatment should be entered in an information log of some type, i.e. notebook and/or computer.
Initial evaluation of individual body condition and FAMACHA scores.
Fecal-egg samples should be gathered and evaluated for pre- and post-treatment fecal-egg analysis.
Hooves cleaned, trimmed (if needed) and treated for foot rot or scald as a precautionary measure.
Worming and appropriate vaccinations (at least CD&T) given.
Isolation of Sick Animals – any animals that appear or are obviously sick need to be isolated away from herd for at least one to two weeks until they have received appropriate treatment and fully recovered.
Documentation of animal id, health issues, treatment and results should be entered into same aforementioned log.
A scheduled review of animals should take place on a frequent basis and issues addressed with appropriate care for each situation with animal id documented.
Scheduled random sampling for fecal-egg counts should be conducted and relevant treatment and identification logged. Spring through fall may warrant doing fecal-egg analysis biweekly or more often. If an animal appears emaciated, extremely lethargic or has scours, a fecal-egg count is mandatory.
|Left to right, basic treatments to keep on farm are iodine for treating navel cords of newborn small ruminants, powder and liquid insecticide for external parasites, and antiseptic for treating cuts or wounds, foot rot or scald. Tools for use on small ruminants: hoof brush/pick for cleaning out hooves, syringe and needle for injections, drench syringe for oral medicines, wax crayon for marking animals, hoof trimmers, another syringe and needle, elastrator bands and elastrator pliers.|
While grazing of quality forages is the ideal practice for livestock production, the supplemental use of hay and grain-based feeds may be appropriate from time to time.
Recognition of individual body-condition scores and stages of production (lactating, developing animals and maintenance animals) will determine need for any additional forms of nutrition.
BCS of 1 or 2 will warrant additional nutrition; 3, while questionable, will be up to the discretion of livestock manager. If an animal’s BCS is 5, a dietary reduction plan needs to be implemented.
Very young and young (anything less than one year) animals need access to a well-stocked creep feeder.
Ongoing access to fresh water and minerals (loose or block form) for all animals is an important aspect of nutrition and maintaining healthy animals.
A reproduction plan should be put in place that utilizes quality breeding stock, rotation of herd sires, culling for poor performers or animals lacking good conformation, and appropriate seasonal breeding.
The reproduction plan will consider availability of quality forages, extremely cold seasons, age of animals, grow-out rates, ideal marketing seasons and weights, and other factors as determined relevant.
Development of paddocks with quality forages is pertinent to production quality of animals.
Keep your stocking rate low unless you are able to do intensive rotational grazing.
Do not overgraze your pastures!
Development of grazing paddocks and utilization of rotational grazing is essential to forage management and quality, reduction in problems with gastro-intestinal parasites and efficient utilization of natural resources.
Emergency contact information
Keep contact names and phone numbers for your preferred veterinarian and professional consultant available.
The previous information on biosecurity and basic management should offer ideas whether a person is new to goat and sheep production or a seasoned producer. Had I followed some of the recommendations, my headaches would have been much less over time.
Robert Spencer is an Urban Regional Extension Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.