use is becoming the norm among livestock
Along with chemical wormers, antibiotics are a staple of
many livestock producers' management programs. More and more
sheep (and cattle and hog and poultry) producers are feeding
their animals commercial feeds containing low levels of
antibiotics and/or other drugs every single day, as a
preventive measure. The prevailing theory seems to be that a
continual supply of antibiotics in the animal's system will
"beat the bad guys before they get a foothold."
Research has demonstrated that lambs (and the young
of other species as well) show a dramatic increase
in weight gain when they're fed antibiotic-laced
feed from birth.
course, fast weight gain is an important issue when
your livelihood hinges on getting lambs raised to
market weight as quickly and as cost-effectively as
possible, but this approach seems short-sighted to
me. There's almost always a price to pay for fast
One downside to overusing antibiotics is that, just
as with using chemical wormers, the tough little
critters we're trying to kill have the ability to
adapt, mutate, and develop immunity very quickly.
Hence, we need to continually come up with bigger,
stronger antibiotic guns.
then there's the issue of the antibiotic residue
that may end up in our food supply.
does this cycle end?
grow up nourished by
mom's rich, pure milk, the farm's
lush green pastures, and leafy green alfalfa
Antibiotics are not part of the
get me wrong, antibiotics do have their place. They are
truly the "miracle drugs." I always keep a supply on hand
and have no qualms about using them on an animal if the
natural method doesn't work for me. That's what antibiotics
are for as far as I'm concerned, a last-ditch, big-gun
method of curing infections that resist natural treatments.
Garlic is a
In addition to being a great natural vermifuge, garlic also
has antibiotic properties. Many livestock producers use it
regularly and successfully. I have used the same garlic
recipe described in the Parasite Control page as part
of a regimen to treat mastitis (infected udder) in ewes. I
have also used it for sheep with upper respiratory
infections that I've been able to catch in the early stages.
(I've often used fresh garlic on myself in the early stages
of a cold too -- and does it ever work!)
As with many issues in
life, I believe that the antibiotic vs natural method of
treating illness is a matter of finding the correct balance.
practices work to support sheep health
way to achieve balance is to provide a healthful environment
for the animals. Good management practices help keep the
sheep healthy and strong, meaning neither antibiotics nor
garlic are necessary in the first place. The management
practices followed on SkyLines Farm include:
and airy barns
a virtually closed flock to reduce the incidence of
Natural Health Care page for more details.
observation is crucial to any natural
My experience has shown that catching the health problem in
the early stages is crucial to the success of a natural
health care regimen. This means that I have to spend some
time every single day doing one of the things that I love
the most - hanging out out with the sheep!
Looking with a critical eye
Critical observation is just that - it means really looking
at each animal with a critical eye. Looking to see if
anybody's limping, sniffling, has a poopy butt, has droopy
ears or dull eyes, is standing off from the rest of the
flock, isn't crowding to the feed bunk at dinner time, or
just doesn't seem her normal self. If any sheep looks a
little off, I immediately give her a thorough inspection to
see if there's a problem. Early diagnosis and treatment can
make all the difference in the success of a natural health
working . . .
This kind of individual daily attention has proven itself
over and over again to be the very best kind of health care
management I can give to these animals. It's fun for me,
it's easy, it's economical, and it works.
have responded over the years by remaining extremely healthy
and vigorous, and by giving me strong healthy fleeces and
strong healthy lambs that are up and running fast. What more
could a shepherd ask for?
Farm 4551 Highway 6 Harvard, ID 83834
Purebred Romney & Romney-Cross