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Over the past few years we have worked hard to make our goats as hardy and healthy as possible without relying on chemical treatments. This is especially important because 100% of the dairy in our household comes from our goats, and our goal is to be as all natural as possible.
There are a lot of great herbal blends out there from a number of trustworthy suppliers already formulated for a variety of illnesses. Our favorite blends come from Bite Me!, Molly’s Herbals and Fir Meadows. Many of the blends offered are great to have on hand for a variety of common ailments and supportive care.
Herbal medicine can be a bit overwhelming for the novice. Dosages can be hard to determine, and natural remedies aren’t regulated for a standard potency. This is why in an emergency, most people rely on their “tried and true” medications.
To get yourself started with natural treatments, there a few basic items you can keep on hand to treat common ailments.
Arnica is a flowering plant in the sunflower family, known commonly as wolf’s bane or mountain tobacco. It’s well known in the homeopathic world as being useful for treating generalized pain, and assisting with healing from tissue damage. It can be administered both orally, mainly for pain relief, and topically for bruising and swelling. My vet was actually the first person to suggest using Arnica to me for helping with lasting pain or trauma with my goats, as it doesn’t have the harmful side effects that Banamine has.
Garlic has a lot of value in treating sick goats and promoting general daily health and well being. The Allicin contained in raw garlic which naturally combats parasites, bacteria, viruses and fungi. It’s antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-allergy – well, basically anti-everything bad. Feeding your goats raw garlic daily can greatly improve their general health. However, if you have dairy goats be cautious as it can change the flavor of your milk. Giving raw garlic to sick goat as supportive care is highly recommended because of the numerous healing properties it contains. You can’t overdose a goat on garlic. Feed it as a paste or drench for easier dosing. Coating it in molasses also helps it to be more palatable for goats
Cayenne is a cornerstone in a lot of herbal treatments. It’s often used a stimulant to get the blood slowing and is useful in treating goat kids that are hypothermic or need a boost. It’s most often used as a tincture made with raw apple cider vinegar. Cayenne is also high in Vitamin C and B vitamins, which make it a good supportive herb in conjunction with other treatments for a variety of ailments. Cayenne is also antiseptic and styptic, so it’s often used to stop bleeding in place of traditional blood stop powder. Be sure that when you’re using cayenne medicinally that it’s 40,000 hu (heat units) – most cooking grade cayenne has a much lower hu.
I have used blackberry leaves often with goats that have had issues with scouring. Blackberry leaves are astringent and great for treating scours or other stomach issues. They’re also great for mouth issues such as ulcers or inflamed gums. We always give our goats fresh leaves when the season is right, and keep plenty of dried leaves on hand for the winter months.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar with “the mother” provides a lot of health benefits for goats when added to their water buckets daily. It helps maintain a healthy pH balance in the intestinal tract, deters internal parasites, can assist with preventing urinary calculi in bucks, and inhibits algae growth in water buckets in the warm months. There’s even some folk wisdom that claims it can increase the amount of doelings conceived (don’t I wish). ACV is also a great carrier far making a variety of herbal tinctures because of the additional health benefits it provides. You can make your own ACV very easily and save yourself a lot of money.
If you would like to learn more about holistic goat care: