Thursday, August 09, 2007

Balancing while the wheel turns

Coming back to Foxbriar after 2 and a half months in Colorado gives us a unique view of our livestock. It is easy to become "barn-blind" when you see your animals everyday, changes are subtle and an animal can loose condition or bloom beautifully without you even noticing.

Most of the animals look good, Lena is an incredible shepherd. She saves lambs that would never make it in any normal situation. And the sheep are mostly fat, but a wee bit scruffy and everybody except the angora goats - whose fiber is glistening and they are waddling because they are so fat - just looks a little dull coated.

So we set out to find out what we could to balance their rations and deal with parasites.
When we moved to Arkansas, everybody warned us about parasites. We had our set worming rotation for each type of livestock in Colorado and even when we were doing fecal checks we rarely wormed anything more than twice a year.

The old stand by wormers of Ivermec and Strongid still made a workable rotation and parasites were easy to deal with, even when our flock numbered close to 200. We were using a modified version of the FAMACHA method, which selects animals for parasite resistance and everybody was healthy and happy on their basic diet of alfalfa hay and whole corn, with mineral supplements and salt.

But now we are on unfamiliar ground and having to learn a new path.

Last week, we found a feed mill in Damascus that is starting to work up organic feed mixes and uses a lot of natural supplements. They spent a few hours helping us balance rations for our wide variety of critters. The goats are already milking better with their new 16% protein grain mix that is higher in calcium.

Our small animal vet in Leslie had warned us to worm the llamas with Ivermec every 3 weeks during the summer because of the threat of meningeal worm. We have been doing that. Meningeal worm is a parasite carried by white tailed deer. We have them in abundance on Foxbriar. The spotted fawns are so cute!

The equivalent threat to all the livestock in Colorado was West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitos. Here on the mountain in Fox, I have yet to see a mosquito, but, well, we have lots of those cute deer.

I think it was meningeal worm that sent Rosemary to Summerland. It cannot be diagnosed without an autopsy, and we did not have one done, but all the symptoms were there. Of course, I think any health issue is a whole being thing and stressors bring down immunity and imbalances keep the body from fighting invaders... but that is a whole tangent that can be the subject of many other posts.

So, we are continuing to live and learn and try to balance on the wheel of life.

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