Sheep and Goat Care
In general, sheep and goats require very little grain. Male goats are particularly prone to urinary blockage, often related to grain feeding. To help prevent almost inevitable urinary blockage, avoid long-term feeding of alfalfa and feed ammonium chloride 5 grams daily per 120 lb animal. Ammonium chloride is available in a few pelleted feeds such as lamb grower/ finisher products and meat goat feeds.
Feed only enough grain to maintain your small ruminant at an adequate weight. They may need more grain in the winter to maintain their weight. Feeding too much grain can cause rumen upset, lactic acidosis, and bacterial imbalance, and lead to “overeating disease” caused by Clostridium bacteria. This is a serious disease, which is often difficult to treat.
Be careful not to feed grain, treats, or mineral supplements that are formulated for horses, as they can contain high levels of copper which are toxic to sheep. Offering browse off of some trees and green, leafy and orange/yellow vegetables is also good for goats. Avoid yew, oleander, bracken fern, rhododendron, and other poisonous plants. A poisonous plant list can be found by clicking here. Check your pasture area for poisonous plants.
Sheep/goats should be vaccinated for Clostridium group (CD&T) and Rabies yearly. An initial CD&T two booster series should be given if the animal has not been vaccinated previously. Vaccinations can be started at 16 weeks of age.
Trimming feet regularly (every 4-6 weeks) and allowing your small ruminant to play on rocks/stumps will help keep hooves short. Check feet regularly for foul odor, pain, or softness, as this can be a sign of foot rot. Please ask the doctor for a demo chart for more info.
Checking a fecal at least yearly, deworming appropriately, and keeping your animal in a pasture rotation (changing turn-out area to prevent them from picking up their own parasites) will help keep parasites at a minimum. If you get new animals in, be sure to isolate them for at least 2 weeks, collect the fecal sample on day one and immediatly start a broad spectrum dewormer such as fenbendazole at 10mg per kg dose for seven days while waiting for results. This will help keep your pastures clean and the rest of your herd healthy. Its much easier to deworm a few new animals then it is to a whole herd.
Check fecal samples at least once yearly to determine if deworming is needed. It is always recommended to deworm prior to breeding.
FAMACHA system: Check conjunctiva for signs of anemia (white or very pale pink), which can be associated with intestinal parasites. A diagram can be found online if you google “FAMACHA.”
Alternating deworming with Ivermectin, Fenbendazole, or oral or topical Cydectin (Moxidectin) when the ground is starting to freeze and after the snow begins to melt, and at least twice yearly injections of ivermectin 1% at 1 ml per 50 lb body weight is needed to manage meningeal worms. Call us if you need the dosage for these dewormers. Fenbendazole ideally is only dosed at 10 mg/kg (double label dose) once daily for seven days and to manage resistant strongile family parasites, oral cydectin may be required on day seven as well.