“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Friday, July 24, 2009

Animal Health and Food

Good, bad, or in between, I stay away from as much medication as possible. Same for my goats. They could be someones food or breeding animal one day. I consider what I want in my food, and want nothing less for anyone else.
We do not have a vet come to our goats, because in reality - that does not happen. Maybe in a real herd crisis, but if its one animal, it would be the same as your cat or dog. In the car they go to the vet's office. A big dog crate works great.
We are with our animals every day, see changes, and look more closely accordingly. Sometimes all it takes is reassigning which stall a goat ends up in if they are getting pushed around too much.
As I was learning about sheep and goats in my quest to find the right animal for the farm, I also learned about medications. Parasite control is important for the good health of all animals. One of the first things I heard was that a lot of herds in different parts of the country had internal parasites that were resistant to medications. This was because the medications had been improperly and overly used. That made control of eggs and worms difficult, and therefore made it difficult to keep the animals healthy.
That's where rotational, pastured grazing got my interest. You basically try to stay ahead of the life cycle of the parasites by giving the animals clean fields, on a regular basis, and move them along before they contaminate themselves. Weather and growth conditions have a play in all this, and you need enough space to make it work well. That's why you read about us moving fences and putting the goats in new areas. We keep them going across the fields - water, sheds and all, to stay ahead of the parasite life cycle.
I admit that I am learning everyday, and do not have all the science committed to memory. What I do know is that when we took fecal samples to the vet last fall, which I ridiculously and painstakingly gathered one morning, only one goat - the littlest - needed worming. We treated the animal with the problem, and not the whole herd as industrial farms do. That is only one of the differences between small sustainable farms, and the farms that produce the cheap meat and eggs you buy in many grocery stores.

Today the New York Times printed a short Op Ed regarding this topic.

Farms and Antibiotics (click title to read more)

In an environment where antibiotics are omnipresent, as they are in
industrial agriculture, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases quickly
develop, reducing the effectiveness of common drugs like penicillin and
If you care about your health, then care about where your food comes from. Be educated about what you put in your body. Be aware of regulatory news and why its happening. Most of the news about food borne problems have not originated on the small farm but on the "factory" farms as in the article above. Visit you local farms and know your food. Its important.

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