Water Hemlock and Goats: Toxicity, Symptoms, Prevention

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

In early spring when things are just starting to green up, watch out for water hemlock. It is a horrendous and unforgettable way to lose a goat. I read a fascinating university publication a couple of years ago after we buried our 2nd goat and started to put the pieces together. It was from 1920 and they tested various feeding methods of water hemlock to sheep to learn about toxicity. If you’re interested in this topic enough to read 23 pages or so, I highly recommend The Poison Parsnip Or Water Hemlock, available for free on Google Books.

In earliest spring, water hemlock is one of the first plants to grow. Eager for greens, goats will eat it because little else is available. Even well fed goats long for spring greenery. It is at this point that water hemlock is its most toxic above ground and it is at this point you need to be diligent with your otherwise smart and good-choice-making goats. We just keep ours up off the bottom where it grows until the grass has grown up. Living on a creek, new seeds come in yearly so it’s not possible to be sure they’re eradicated. Continue reading “Water Hemlock and Goats: Toxicity, Symptoms, Prevention”

So You’ve Gone in and Assisted a Birth. What Next?

I am reminded today why raising goats isn’t for the faint of heart.  Things are great when they’re great, but it sure can be intense when they’re not so great.

I heard Silkie making noise and went out to find her already pushing, not progressing well with a backward breech who came out easily enough, but after low intensity contractions and no progress pushing on the second, I went in to find a mess.

This isn’t my first mess, but I felt like sharing this glimpse of goat life for those of you thinking you might want to someday find yourself elbow deep in a screaming doe. 😀

The second kid, much larger than the first, was upside down with his head wedged beneath the birth canal and a single front foot out.  Continue reading “So You’ve Gone in and Assisted a Birth. What Next?”

Sometimes Goat Kids Die

This is a sort of melodramatic title for an issue that I feel needs to be addressed.  When you deal with live animals, particularly with buying young live animals, there are an inherent set of risks that can cause injury, illness or death, even if the animal was well cared for prior to leaving the farm of origin.  New buyers, with the help of comments on social media like, “A reputable breeder would have…” or “I would never sell an animal like that…” are often led to believe that anything less than a perfectly healthy animal for the first month has got to be the fault of the breeder they bought from.  I want to set the record straight and say this: sometimes goat kids die. This is especially true if you are an inexperienced goat owner who may miss signs more experienced owners have learned–often through hard lessons–to notice. Continue reading “Sometimes Goat Kids Die”

Natural Treatment for Lice in Goats

Year after year, despite various changes in management, we would encounter lice in late winter and early spring in our goats. I found dealing with it incredibly frustrating since none of the effective methods were compatible with our goal of natural care. So each year I would resignedly use one of the powdered concoctions on them, hoping maybe next season I’d come up with a solution.

All that changed last year, in 2018, when I re-read Pat Coleby’s book Natural Goat Care, one of the few goat books I have that I recommend to people.  It finally clicked. In NGC, Pat talks about how important sulfur is:

“…animals receiving the correct amounts of sulfur in their diet will not get lice.” Continue reading “Natural Treatment for Lice in Goats”