We asked veterinarian Jan Pol, the star of Nat Geo WILD’s “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” what are five tips he would give to hobby farmers:
- First of all, make sure your pets are wormed and vaccinated regularly. Especially keep the rabies vaccinations current for your dogs, cats and also horses. Tetanus vaccinations for horses and goats are also very important. The animals are very easily infected with the lockjaw bacteria.
- If you have pet sheep or goats, go very stingy on the grain. And keep the grain in a locked place or container. All farm animals will overeat on grain until they die. But wethers can get crystals in the urine that plug the urethra and will cause severe health complications.
- If you want cows, either for your own milk or beef or as pets, you may get away without vaccinations if you have a closed herd. This means no animals are brought into the herd. So if you have your neighbors’ bull come over to breed your cows, they had better be vaccinated for shipping fever (IBR), bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) and leptospirosis.
- Leptospirosis is a very insidious disease that is carried by rodents, deer and other animals. It will affect all your animals on your farm.
- Finally, keep everything clean. Cleanliness is next to godliness, especially to prevent worms and coccidiosis. Clean out the pen and spread lime on the floor before putting new bedding down. Rotate pastures and cut the grass before letting the animals back in.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Hobby Farms magazine.