I am small homesteader. Still, raising animals for hobby and for a more nutritious source of food can be quite costly. There are many ways to save money in animal husbandry. One of the best ways is to learn to do as much as possible on your own. Learning some basic vet skills such as learning to administer routine vaccinations, medications and worming your own stock can save you a lot of money and time.
How To Vaccinate Your Own Animals
One of the first skills I learned when we bought goats was how to routinely vaccinate them. This is a very important skill because not only do we have to administer the yearly CD&T vaccine, but we need to vaccinate newborn kids within a few days of birth and then 30 days later. If you have a large herd or even a smaller herd (we have 10), this can be quite costly having to have a vet come out each time you need to vaccinate.
Vaccines are very simple to administer. I always give my goats a vaccine in their left shoulder area and under the skin, via a subcutaneous(sub-Q) injection. You must use a new sterile needle and syringe. After filling your syringe to the correct mark, and tapping the syringe to remove air bubbles, depress the plunger until a drop or 2 is squeezed out to ensure that all air bubbles are removed.Then gently pull the skin upward to make a “tent” and insert the needle gently into this tent area and slowly depress the plunger. NOTE: Discard all needles into an approved container to prevent accidental needle sticks.
I can vaccinate a goat by myself, but prefer to have my husband or daughters present to help. One of the reasons that I choose to always vaccinate them in the same spot is that the vaccines do occasionally cause a harmless injection site lump. Since lumps can be linked to a serious disease in goats and sheep called Caseous Lymphadenitis , it is wise to choose a familiar spot so that if a lump develops, that you will not be afraid and assume the worst. Here is a video from our farm:
How To Medicate Your Own Animals
Medicating animals can be simple or complex. Many times it involves giving them medications or supplements orally. The use of a dosing syringe or Drench Gun makes the process very simple and in most cases can be done by yourself, but if the goat needs medication such as an antibiotic, you may have to learn to give the medicine sub-Q (subcutaneous), or IM(intramuscular).
Sub-Q is under the skin and is exactly like as described above with giving a vaccine. Intramuscular is a little bit more complicated than subcutaneous, but nevertheless, still quite simple. I have learned to do both.
You should research good injection sites based on what type of animal you have (goats for example should never receive and IM injection in the back leg and meat animals get the IMs usually in the neck to preserve the meat), but the process is basically the same. You use a sterile needle and syringe.
- Fill your syringe to the correct mark.
- Tap the syringe to remove air bubbles.
- depress the plunger until a few drops of medicine come to the tip to make sure that the air is completely out of the syringe.
- Find your injection site which will be a large muscle.
- Insert the needle into the muscle gently.
- Pull back on the plunger. If you see blood in the syringe, it means that you have hit a vein and you need to withdraw your needle and find a different spot.
- If there is no blood, you may depress the plunger and carefully remove the needle.
- Rub the area to disperse the medication.
- Discard the needle and syringe into an approved container to prevent accidental needle sticks.
Some medications can be administered either way, but others will be one or the other. You must check the bottle or follow your veterinarians instructions as to how to properly administer the type of medication that your livestock needs.
If you want to learn about starting your own farmette we recommend reading
How To De-Worm Your Own Animals
Worming your livestock is absolutely crucial to good management practices. In many cases, it is the difference between success and failure on your farm. Breeding animals that have natural resistance and a strong immunity to parasites is probably your number one best defense to the numerous parasites that plague the soil and your animals.
You should research the types of parasites that are prevalent in your area and make sure that you are familiar with the types of wormers best suited to treat your stock. Talking to other farmers in your area who raise the same type of animals that you do will also help you to glean valuable information about what types of parasites you will encounter. You should also learn to do fecal exams or have an experienced vet do them for you. This will ensure that you use the proper treatment method for the parasite that is present and causing health issues in your stock.
Some people opt to use broad spectrum wormers and herbal (all natural) wormers such as the herbal wormer formula from Hoegger Supply Co. or even raw pumpkin seeds, but certain parasites such as barber pole worm (stomach worm) have a high resistance to many wormers and need to be treated very carefully and specifically.
A major issue with parasites is their resistance to the medications and drugs used to treat them. Many wormers are no longer effective and are not effective in certain areas. Like antibiotics, they are overused and used incorrectly. That is why selective breeding for resistance and doing fecal exams are so necessary.
Certain supplements such as copper in goats, can make a huge difference in whether or not your animals will succumb to parasites. Also, overall healthy animals will have a stronger immunity and do better against parasites than an already weakened or sickened animal. Mothers that have just given birth are especially susceptible to parasite overload and should be wormed with pregnancy approved wormers prior to giving birth and very shortly thereafter. Wormers, like medications come in many different forms and depending on what type is needed, can be administered orally, or injected. Some types resemble feed and are fed to your stock along with their regular grain ration.
Whether you have a large operation or a small family farm, good health in your stock is absolutely necessary to your success. Learning to care for much of your stock’s medical needs can be a huge time and money saver. You should always have a veterinarian that you can call for advice, emergencies and for things that you cannot treat on your own. Having a network of experienced farmers in your area who raise the same or similar stock can also be a valuable resource for advice and support. Joining online forums for like-minded individuals can also be another tool to help you have success in raising healthy stock on your farm. Remember that healthy animals are happy and productive animals!
What is your best tip for keeping healthy, happy animals?