5 Simple Answers to Livestock Questions

Sometimes people ask me questions that have short answers, so I can't write a whole blog about them. This week let's take a look at some of those.

by Martok
5 Simple Answers to Livestock Questions - Photo courtesy iStock/Thinkstock (HobbyFarms.com)
Courtesy iStock/Thinkstock

Sometimes people ask me questions that have short answers, so I can’t write a whole blog about them. This week let’s take a look at some of those.

Question 1
We had six goats die this summer. We think it was worms. But how can we know? —Darlene

Answer: Darlene, you can’t tell now that they’re dead. However, if you have more goats, please take fecal samples to your veterinarian so he can see if your goats have worms and, if so, what kind. Then he can prescribe the right dewormer to eliminate the worms and your goats won’t die of worm overload.

If you have just a few goats, take the vet a fecal sample from each. Label a small plastic bag with each goat’s name, then take them out to where your goats are and hang out until each goat makes beans. Invert that goat’s bag over your hand like a glove, pick up five or six beans, turn the bag right side out and seal it. The bags don’t have to be refrigerated but take them to your vet as soon as you can.

If you have a lot of goats and can’t afford to have each one tested, take a random sampling from three or four goats. That will give your vet an idea of what’s going on. In the meanwhile, FAMANCHA test your goats by checking their eye membranes to see if they’re anemic. Pale or white membranes usually indicate barber pole worm overload, but anemia can be caused by liver flukes, too.

Question 2
Where can I order or purchase a goat cart? —Martha Evans

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Answer: The best place we know of to buy a cart is the Hoegger Supply Company. That’s where Mom got our cart. If a wagon would suit your purposes, Mom shows how to convert a utility wagon for goats to pull in the September/October 2013 issue of Hobby Farm Home. You’ll have to buy a driving harness to drive your goat to a cart, but you can make him a simple harness to pull a wagon.

Question 3
My goats are killing all of the trees in their paddocks. Is there something that I can paint on the trees to prevent them from eating the bark? There are too many to fence around. —Linda Gillen

Answer: We asked Mom on this one. (Uzzi and I would never girdle trees—maybe because there aren’t any trees in our goat yard to girdle.) Mom says to try painting the trees with dish soap mixed with cayenne pepper. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth a try.

Question 4
Can you please share with me how to tell the gender of baby chicks? —Eugene Tinklepaugh

Answer: If your chicks are of a sex-linked breed or hybrid, male chicks are one color and female chicks are another. If not, it’s very, very difficult to tell them apart until the cockerels are old enough to crow. Hatchery experts use a method called vent sexing, but it’s very specialized and not something most chicken keepers can learn.

Question 5
There’s an Embden goose on the lake in the park where I work and she has gone very unsteady on her feet. She did the same last summer but got over it on her own, but this year, she doesn’t look happy and has gone very quiet and very unsteady on her feet. Everyone loves Clairabell, and we want her to be well. If I can get an idea of what’s wrong, I can take her to the vet and get her back on the lake as soon as possible. —Claire Turner

Answer: Uzzi and I don’t know enough about geese to definitively diagnose Clairabell’s problem. One thing you might check for is bumblefoot, as it’s fairly common in ducks and geese. The best thing to do for Clairabell would be to scoop her up and take her to the vet. Then you’ll know what’s going on for certain.

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