Now you’re ready to bring home your new animal… or are you?
Let’s see, you have your containment system in place, you have adequate shelter, you know what you are going to feed them… but have you thought about if you are going to vaccinate? If so, do you know what to vaccinate for in your area? Have you thought about what you will do if you decide not to vaccinate if your animal get sick? Have you thought about pests and how you will handle them?
These are a lot of questions that probably never get asked until you are sitting at a vet’s office. I know because I have been there. I had a donkey that got a little cut on his nose from some barbed wire that we had strung up to keep him safe. We cared for that little cut for two weeks and it was almost completely healed. Then I noticed something was wrong with him. He was lying down and refused to get up. When he finally did get up he was very stiff, and I mean extremely. So I called the vet and he came out to check him over. It was tetanus. That little shot that you get every 10 years or so to prevent. I found out two things very quickly that day. Equine are susceptible to it and need a shot just like we do. Treatment success after it develops is very rare and very expensive. I had not done my research on vaccines for equines and, because of that we lost our donkey to a preventable disease.
On the other side of the coin, there are some vaccines that though they are offered, they are not always necessary. If you live in an area that is rabies free, then you don’t need a rabies vaccine for your pet. It is always best to do your research on not only available vaccines but also the necessity of them in the area in which you live. Some diseases that are prevalent in some areas are nonexistent in others and unnecessary to give to your animal or spend money on.
Another thing to think about that is related to this is parasites. You know, worms, ticks, fleas… the list goes on. How are you going to keep those nasty buggers from bugging your animal? There are a lot of different options for different problems. There are the chemicals that you can feed, spray, or drop on or around your animal. There are also natural remedies as well for most of those. In some cases, the chemicals work the best with the fewest side effects and in some cases the natural remedies work best.
For our farm, when it comes to worms we generally treat when we see evidence of a problem. Since we have such a small operation, the transfer of worms is very low so we only really have to treat any of our animals when we bring in new animals that have not been treated before.
For fleas and ticks we use cheap flea and tick collars. We have gone through all of the spot on treatments, spray-ons, flea baths and such, and none of them really seemed to do a good job. The cheap flea collars, which only last about 2 months not 7-8, are the only things we have found to do what they are supposed to. That being said, we live in a hot humid forest and can get overrun with fleas and ticks in the summer months, so what doesn’t work for us may still work for you. When it becomes necessary to give our animals a flea bath, we don’t use any special chemicals. Dawn dish soap works great, and truthfully, any soap does. See, soap breaks the surface tension of water and the fleas actually drown. This is also safer for your animal as well because you are not covering them in chemicals.
We also have a problem with flies on our farm. House flies, black flies, deer flies, and the dreaded horse fly. We have found that there is no real way of getting rid of these bugs altogether but there are methods of keeping the populations down. The first step is to find and eliminate, as best you can, where they are breeding. They like manure and they like damp. Put these together and it is the perfect breeding grounds. Don’t think you have anything like this, dig down an inch around watering holes and where you clean up behind your animals. If it is damp or if you see maggots, you have your source. You can keep manure cleaned up and keep these areas as dry as possible. Spreading DE or fly predators in these areas can help as well.
Next step is to eliminate the adults. For the black flies, we have sticky traps where they like to settle and where the other animals can’t get into them. For the others, we have a device called the Horse Pal that works to attract them by heat and movement and when they let go they get caught in a funnel that goes to a pickle jar where they get trapped and bake.
The final step is to protect your animals. If your animals are being bugged by these pests there are several things you can do. For our horse, it was recommended by our farrier that we use a little bit of garlic granules or garlic powder, not a lot and no fresh garlic as it can make your horse anemic, on her food every day to prevent them from biting. Also, Pyranha wipe and spray seems to be the favorite in the horse world and so far has worked the best for us this summer, but we do have to reapply it every 2-3 days to keep the flies at bay.
Now that we have thought of everything that could go wrong, our next post will talk about picking out our new animals.
- Animals On The Homestead
- Housing For Animals
- Feeding Your Animals
- Containment For Your Animal
- Choosing Your Next Best Friend