Three or four years ago, we bought a breeding pair of sheep and a breeding pair of goats. Hair sheep so we don't have to shear, meat goats (Boer) so we don't have to milk. They've always been together as one flock. Now the sheep are so prolific we need to get rid of some. The goats, though, die one by one. First Brutus, (1st male) then Benjy (his replacement). This spring, we bought Murray, (Boer X LaMancha cross) just old enough to ween. He really looks good, and we had high hopes of kidding in spring. Until the female (Poulan) died today. I'm around the flock way more than I used to be, so now I can notice changes in behavior. She seemed to not feel good three or four days ago, but I helped her up and she seemed to feel better in a few minutes. Yesterday, she relapsed, and seemed even more lethargic. I called the vet, and after I looked at her eyelids, (pale pink, almost white) he sold me a shot of "Longrange". She was dead when I checked her today.
We still want goats, but can't just keep buying and losing them. So I've started reading up, and I find this spectrum of how to care for sheep and goats, from drugs every sixty days to don't do anything. I don't know where in that spectrum I want to be. Take Murray for example: he seems to feel fine, but I checked his eyelids and gums today. They're almost as pale as Poulan's. Do I just watch him, or should I worm him now? Should I start to worm on a schedule, or only as needed? How do I determine if it's needed?
At the vet's recommendation, I bought a pound of Safeguard pellets to feed these guys. I haven't fed any yet, though, because they seem to be made for horses and cattle. It's 0.5% concentration of the active ingredient. The labeled dosage is one pound per thousand pounds of animal weight. No copper, according to the label. Is this safe for sheep and goats? If so, what dosage should I use?
We're moving toward a pasture rotation, but we're limited by our acreage and the cost of fencing. We currently have two pastures. There's always been enough grass for them to eat, but not enough for it to always be tall. In the next year or two, we hope to re-fence the rest of our land. That'll give about another acre.
I'll stop there for now. Obviously I'm full of questions, but these should point me the right direction. Thank you in advance to anyone who offers me some guidance. I appreciate it.
The other thing is that your goats might be copper deficient, especially if you are keeping them with sheep and not providing a free-choice mineral that includes copper. Even if you are, it might not be enough copper for the goats. When goats are copper deficient, it can mimic iron-deficiency anemia. Also, goats that are copper deficient will have a very low resistance to parasites, so a rather small parasite load can kill them.
So... I need to:
1) Keep watching/ observing.
2) Start offering free choice minerals, with copper, where the goats can access it but the sheep can't. Can I place the minerals where the goats have to climb, or will the sheep climb up there too? Do I need to section off a "room" in the barn and only let the goats in there? If I do that, how long and how often do they need to be in there?
3) Consider specific supplements like ammonium chloride and copper oxide wire particles. Are these things to use when there's a problem, or to avoid a problem? Should I offer copper oxide wire particles to healthy goats to provide dietary copper, or only to "wormy" goats as a medicine?
4) Read the book.
5) Get Murray a girlfriend or two.
Sounds like a great start. You can get Copasure in goat boluses from Jeffers and other places online. Goats need 1 gram per 22 pounds, and depending upon your situation, you may need to give it every 3-4 months, regardless of what the label says. http://www.jefferspet.com/products/copasure-capsules-for-sheep-goats Symptoms of copper deficiency are faded coat (red goat turns cream; cream goat turns white; etc), fertility problems, goats don't get pregnant or stay pregnant. You might also see fishtails and hair loss on the face, especially bridge of nose and around the eyes. There is a picture in the buck article of a copper-deficient black buck who looks reddish.
If you put the goats in the barn separate from the sheep at night, that's a good way to provide them with a free choice mineral. They need access to it daily, but if that's only 10-12 hours a day, that's fine.
There have been around 15 or so studies that have shown that COWP also works as a dewormer for stomach worms, such as barberpole (haemonchus contortus), which is the one that causes anemia, so you might find your goats doing much better after that.
Only bucks need ammonium chloride, but if you're not giving him grain, he shouldn't need it.
And yes, I'm sure Murray will be happier with a couple of girlfriends.
I keep both sheep and goats. I get regular FECs done for the goats so that I can work out when to worm them as they are much more susceptible to internal parasites than sheep because naturally they would not be grazing grasses but browsing shrubs. You can use a herbal wormer as a preventative but I use these in conjunction with FECs and then use a chemical wormer if the FEC shows it is necessary.
If your goat has pale eyelids now then you need to act now and not wait to see what happens. If you can't do a FEC asap then I personally would use a chemical wormer then FEC to check that it has worked and there is no resistance to the one you are using. Then get them supplemented with minerals to support their system.
If you are in an area that is wet then you also need to consider the possibility of liver fluke.
So.... Murray does not like Safeguard pellets. He ate a few though. He also doesn't like goat minerals. He ate less than the bag says to give him in a day. I just went back over the earlier posts and found you specified free choice. So my next move is to put some in a pan or tub where I can shut him in for short periods.
So... I don't wanna be the guy who worms all the time and makes the worms resistant. If he's anemic because of copper deficiency, how long should he stay like that after he's on the minerals? How long do I watch now before I step up to a stronger suppliment like the copper oxide wire particles? If that still doesn't fix it, is that time to deworm? Or do I still wait as long as he's filled out and seems to feel good?
When a goat has a resistance to parasites, does that mean his immune system kills some, or that he's less effected by them than other goats, but they live in there unhindered? Do I need to monitor FECs? Is there a DIRECT relationship between that number and my need to worm? Or do I only observe his behavior, appearance and diet?
I'm in chapter 6 of the book right now. So far, it seems common sense and understandable. I don't think it'll take the place of experience, but no book will. I'll have to hang in there and earn experience.
With the FEC you are looking at the level of infestation. Low levels are absolutely fine and you shouldn't worm - no animal will be totally worm free, apart from straight after a worming dose. If there are high levels however you should worm asap, particularly as he is anaemic
Time for follow-up. Murray still seems happy and healthy. I got him some goat minerals. He doesn't eat much. He has access a lot less often than he should. It still seems to be helping. The red part of his hair is darker, and his gums are a little less pale.
Murray right after we got him:
How Murray looks now:
Also, I just finished working out a trade that should bring his first four girlfriends and three stepkids (one of which will grow up to be girlfriend #5) here within the week. As part of that trade, ten sheep are leaving, so the grass situation should improve as well.