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Tip of the Month





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Guess I'm a little late in writing this tip - about 3-4 months late, to be exact - but there's still some hot weather left in this long hot summer, at least in the South. This month I'm going to cover the relief of our beloved animals from heat-related stresses.

Here in the South, late Spring heralds the arrival of not only high temperatures, but also elevated humidities. These twin "whammies" can aggravate a whole series of problems for our goats. Most of us have hard working milkers, and the heat is really hardest on these does. Hence, you can probably concentrate more of your effort and attention on these older ladies. The first thing we at Alchemy do is groom all the animals, starting with the milkers. They welcome a short haircut. This serves two purposes - they are now wearing their "summer duds" to keep them cooler, and you can have a good look at their skin to check for skin and/or parasite problems. Be on the lookout for lice, fungal infections, cuts, bites, etc. Your girls will be a lot healthier if you nip this stuff in the bud. All of your animals should have access to some shade. They should be able to go into a well-ventilated shelter, or loiter under some welcoming shade trees. Fresh water is critical to relief of heat stress. Our girls get fresh, clean, cool water at least twice daily. In addition, we top off the water right after milking, and we check the water buckets in the afternoons to make certain they haven't run dry or become soiled. Keep your water buckets clean. We scrub ours out daily so that algae and other slime doesn't get a foothold. Chances are, if you wouldn't want to drink from the bucket, then neither will your animals. Another thing you can do to increase water consumption (and reduce stress) is to put out water buckets in more than one location. That way a dominant, pushy doe cannot hog all the water. And put the waterers in the shade, if possible. My does tend to want cool water in the Summer and hot water in the Winter. Sort of like me - I want cold drinks in the Summer and hot chocolate in the Winter. Also, the doe is more likely to go for a big drink if she doesn't have to go out into the hot sun to get it. Provide plenty of good forage or clean hay, and make certain that your animals get vitamin and mineral supplements. They should have free access to loose salts. We use high magnesium salts because we're in a magnesium deficient area. Your situation may be differest. We also provide cheap (really ripe) bananas with all their nutrient potassium. Good, wholesome food and lots of fresh water go a long way in relieving the stresses of the summer heat.

Another thing you want to do is worm your animals regularly. Parasites can literally sap the strength and vitality from your goats. And a run-down animal is much more susceptable to heat stress. Here in Tennessee, we worm monthly, because the heat and humidity really favor the growth of all sorts of worms. As I've said before, we use a combination of Safeguard and water-based Zimecterin. We give the milkers Safeguard (dose triple that suggested on the container) most of the time, as the milk withdrawl time is much less. Before the does are bred, however, we sock them at least once with Zimecterin. And be vigilent in looking for fungal skin problems. A hot, humid climate really promotes rapid growth of all sorts of "creeping crud". If you spot something, treat promptly with betadine wash or with a wholistic treatment such as sage tea. This latter works miracles at getting rid of "hot spots" on goats and dogs by the way. If you spot an animal who is huffing and puffing, you might want to spray her down with a hose. We've done this many times with no ill effects. We spray up under the animal on the milk veins and on the tail, chest, and legs. I have read recently, however, that if the animal's core temperature has risen too high, that spraying with a hose can be lethal, so you should probably want to talk with your veterinarian about this.

I guess the bottom line is to provide your animals with shade, shelter, lots of water and good nutrition. Keep any small health problems from getting out of hand, and worm your charges regularly. They'll probably make it thru the Summer better than you will. Now all I have to do is figure out a way to keep ME from stressing out from all the mowing and haying that I've been doing. And another thing - I've just got to teach those does to file by the back door carrying their milk (filled) pails so I don't have to go out in all this heat. Oh well!! I can always dream.


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Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest