Update – Goats

The goats have mostly been OK, except for Ishy.  A couple of months ago she started behaving quite strangely.  At first she was just a little slow.  Then she started eating less, and then after a couple of days she got to the point of just standing and shivering.  It didn’t help that the heavens seemed to be permanently emptying. When she first started behaving oddly I had checked her out, including looking at her hooves.  One of them was pretty bad with scald (footrot), so I treated that.  We got the vet out to see her, and he gave her a dose of antibiotics, and said we should call him in a couple of days if she didn’t get better.

Well, for the first day it didn’t seem to make the slightest difference, and I really thought she was on her way out.  Then it was like one morning someone had switched the light back on, and she was back to, almost, her old self.  Pushing for food, and going out exploring with the others.  It could have been the infection was related to the foot problem, and by treating it both internally and externally, we resolved it.  Or it could have been something else, it’s difficult to tell with goats!  Moby didn’t seem bothered during the whole episode, I think she thought Ishy was just being attention-seeking.

After that scare we’ve had no problems, and they’ve enjoyed the summer.  We had Boris sheared so she wasn’t too warm, and she’s just about at the stage where her fleece looks perfect.  In a month or two, or if it rains heavily again it’s going to look dirty and scraggly, but we can enjoy it in perfect shape until then!

Howard is still being his pushy old self.  He’s a bit grumpy with me as I’m not feeding him at now, during the main part of the summer I’ve only been feeding the pigs.  So he has to watch me walk across the field with a bucket of feed which he just knows he’d like…  it’s a trial for him, it really is.

Footrot/Scald in the Cold

One of the positives of the cold is that the ground becomes nice and hard, which means the bacteria which cause footrot and scald have a much tougher time of it, and it’s less likely to spread between the animals as their hooves aren’t sinking into the mud.  On the downside it does not appear to have had any impact on the animals who already have footrot, such as Boris.  She’d started limping again, and was going so far as to not getting up properly on her front feet.  This morning I flipped her over to get to her hooves.

The front two were fairly bad, with typical scald.  It was wet and warm between the two halves of the hoof, which is exactly what the bacteria like.  I trimmed and sprayed the hooves and hopefully they’ll heal properly.  Also, hopefully she won’t get a repeat infection as it’s only six weeks since I last treated her.  While I can handle Boris easily on my own dealing with Ishy, an animal half the size, required the two of us, with Alex holding her and me doing the trimming.  She had some minor infection, which I treated and then we sent her off.

White Face was also limping quite badly this morning.  We managed to catch her, and with Alex once again doing the holding I had a look at her hooves.  I have to admit they looked fine to me, and I wonder if she’d strained her legs in some other way.  We’ve dug up an area next to the animal restaurant and laid the hardcore ready to turn it into a nice big concrete area, which means that the area is quite rocky, so maybe she hurt herself on that?

We also wanted to take a look at Moby, but as soon as she saw what was happening she scarpered, so we’ll grab her at feed time either tonight or tomorrow morning.

Doing the foot treatment in the cold was particularly harsh this morning as it was still sub zero.  I couldn’t use proper gloves, as then I wouldn’t have been able to feel the hooves properly, so instead I wore some blue latex gloves.  While this protected my hands from the worst of the spray and muck, it did nothing for the cold.  Bring on the spring say I!

Goats Hooves

I went out to fix the electric fence today, just the three points where it was touching the wooden posts, as mentioned in my post a few days ago.  While I was out I saw Howard, Boris and Moby down in the lower field enjoying the slightly longer grass which is still there.  I knew Bertie still wasn’t up for a trip of such distance, it must be four hundred yards or so, but it was a little strange not to see Ishy.  When I was back up at the animal restaurant I saw Ishy sitting in some straw looking a little sorry for herself.

Meanwhile Bertie was up and about, which is great.  He’s been getting himself up without help for the last few days.  I have hopes he’ll be out in the field soon.

Looking at Ishy I was worried she might have scald problems, so I grabbed my trusty foot clippers, some blue spray, and a latex glove for my left hand and went to catch her.  She’s a feisty little customer is Ishy and as soon as she saw I was trying to grab her she scarpered.  It took me a few minutes to slowly back her into a corner, and then I managed to get hold of her.

I flipped her on her back on a pile of straw to soften the blow, though she particularly dislikes being on her back and still struggled a lot.  I started to check her hooves.  The first thing I realised is that we hadn’t looked at them for some time as they were all rather overgrown, and caked with mud.  We’ve been having to deal with the goats hooves quite a bit recently with all the scald problems, but clearly we’d never had to sort out Ishy.  All four were in real need of trimming, and despite her struggling I set to.  There didn’t seem to be any signs of scald which was a distinct positive.  Twenty minutes later and I let her up, and then gave her some food to make her feel a bit better.

Goat hooves grow much faster than sheep hooves, and need regular trimming as they aren’t worn down by our nice soft pasture.  I’d say probably every two months is about the right sort of frequency, and I’ll need to set up a reminder for myself so I don’t let them grow so much again.

Some better news!

Bertie is finally up and about on his own!  I’ve only had to help him up once in the last few days, the rest of the time he’s been able to get up on his own.  He makes a bit of a meal of it, but he gets up and I think it’s getting easier for him.  I even saw him out in the field yesterday, for the first time in weeks.  He’s also making sure he gets his food in, and not letting the others push him off, which is another excellent sign of progress.

This morning we thought we’d take the opportunity to treat all the goats for footrot/scald, as Boris and Moby have been limping again, and Howard looked like he was slightly favouring one of his hooves.  We prepared the footbath of hoof phast, and then did all four hooves of each of: Bertie, Boris, Howard and Moby.  Ishy was out and about in the field, and doesn’t seem to have any rot issues at the moment, so she missed out on the bathing.  They don’t like it a huge amount, but with me holding them, and Alex keeping the hoof in the foot bath to went fairly smoothly.  We also injected Boris, Moby and Howard with anti-biotic to hopefully completely kill off the footrot bacteria.

Everything seems fairly happy at the moment, with the exception of the cows.  They’re definitely hungry, both mooing rather aggressively whenever they see us, but until they’ve lost some of the extra weight they’re carrying we’re going to be keeping them on short rations.

Quick Update

We’ve been bereft of broadband for a few days.  Not due to the inclement weather, but due to a change of supplier and some self-induced complexities.  So time for a quick update:

Bertie – managed to get up on his own yesterday when Alex went to feed him.  Still needed a bit of help today, but seems to be getting stronger.  Hopefully he’ll be getting up on his own again tomorrow!

Double H – footrot seems to have gone, but she’s still not overly happy.  The other sheep push her off food and she’s rather listless.  I gave her an extra portion of food this evening, and stood by her to stop the others from stealing it, which seems to have helped a little.  She’s quite old and isn’t up for fighting the youngsters.

Boris – out and about happily, but still limping quite badly.  We’re going to have to bathe her hoof again, and give her another injection.  Tomorrow hopefully…

Wrath – a few issues about which I will write more later.

Everything else seems fine, and relatively unphased by the dropping temperatures.

Stories of Scald

Scald, or strip, is where the bit between the two halves of the hoof of a sheep or goat starts to rot.  If left it can become footrot, and is caused by similar (or the same depending on the source) bacteria.  Generally when I’ve mentioned footrot I’ve really meant scald.

A couple of weeks ago we had three animals with quite bad scald.

  • Double H the Suffolk, who had scald on all four hooves, and in fact it was getting on towards footrot on the back two
  • Boris who had scald badly on one hoof
  • Moby who had bad scald on one foot

We recently bought some ‘Hoof Phast’ which is a foot bath for treating footrot and scald.  On the 29th November we made up a bucket of this stuff and then treated each of the three animals above.  The treatment consisted of getting a leg and submerging it in the bucket for either a minute or two minutes, depending on how bad the scald was (and how badly they smelt of rot).  Actually it was more struggling with the creature while it tried to lift its now wet and cold leg out of the bucket while we tried to keep it in and time it.  We managed to do all four of Double Hs hooves, and one hoof each on Moby and Boris – the one they were favouring at the time, and also Ishy and Howard because they came near us with slight limps and we felt they wanted the attention.

On the 2nd of December we followed up with an injection of antibiotic for Double H as she was better but still not entirely back to normal. In the last few days she has rejoined the flock and seems almost totally without scald.  Great success!

Sadly both Moby and Boris are now favouring hooves again, though I think they are different ones from before.  They’ve both become a little immobile in the last day or two, particularly Boris, so this morning I decided I needed to treat them.

I started with Moby who, after investigation, seemed to have only one bad foot, though it was really rather bad.  However she really made a racket when I tried to trim it and clean it out.  Eventually after some fuss I managed to clear it out of muck and spray it.

I then moved over to Boris.  Three of her hooves were bad, and one was actually fine.  Quite probably the one we’d bathed a few weeks ago.  I treated her, which involved me sitting with my legs on her to stop her struggling, with her lying upside down.  It looks odd from a distance, and it’s actually quite uncomfortable, but it’s the best way I’ve found to control the Angorans when I’m trimming their feet.

While I was in the process of trimming etc Howard decided to come and take a look.  He mooched about for a bit and then got bored, at which point he decided to have a pee.  All over Boris’ foot.  Nasty.  He then did some poo, but fortunately the little pellets missed her.  It also happened to be the one foot which wasn’t in trouble, though I’m not sure if that’s a sign.

Having trimmed and sprayed the offending hooves I then also injected both Moby and Boris with antibiotic, which they both took surprisingly calmly.  This should mean that they’re fighting the infection from both inside and out.  Hopefully in a couple of days they’ll both be back up and competing for their food just like the others.

Glorious sunshine

This morning was lovely.  Though definitely cold, the sunshine made it worth it.  Here is Muga having just had a little conversation with the ewes on the other side of the fence:

Bertie seems to be getting a little more perky.  He still needs help to get up, but not as much.  I’m hoping he’ll be getting up on his own next week.

Also our Suffolk with a double H on her, continues to have real footrot issues.  We bathed her hooves in a footrot control bath a couple of days ago, and injected her with antibiotic today.  She’s been feeling very sorry for herself and staying out near the old cow hut in the field and not moving around much.  This morning she actually came in to the area next to the animal restaurant for the first time in a couple of weeks, so hopefully that means the bath had an impact.  We’ll bathe her hooves again on Monday.

Maintenance by Alex

Alex decided today was a maintenance day, so she set about sorting a few things out.  Mostly she didn’t need my help, but I was called in to hold Bertie while she washed him, and also to help with the hoof trimming.  Her morning consisted of:

  • Feeding the animals
  • Clearing out the poo and straw in the animal restaurant area
  • Clearing out the chicken poo from their ark, and replacing with new sawdust – probably should have done this a week or two ago
  • Washing Bertie’s bottom – it’s been very mucky the last few days so we:
  • Gave Bertie and Boris some wormer
  • Trimmed and sprayed hooves for: Bertie, Boris and Moby
  • We also injected Boris with anti-biotic to fight the scald she has on all four feet.
  • Cleaning out the main water trough in the goat area – it had become filled with leaves and suchlike, and really needed a proper empty and scrub, which was duly delivered



Autumn should be a lovely time of year.  The trees turn wonderful shades, the weather is fresh but not too cold and we have several opportunities to spend lots of money on pumpkins, fireworks and the like.  Sadly Autumn isn’t as much fun with the animals, because it brings with it perma-mud.  This will stay with us until the spring (or later if we’re unlucky)…

Many farmers and small holders tend to bring their animals in over winter if they can.  This provides the animals with shelter, makes them easier to handle and stops the farmers having to wade through mud all day.

The horror of the mud is worst with the pigs as their hooves seem designed to break up the ground.  As they’ve already mostly stripped any greenery form their areas there is nothing to hold the soil together, and it becomes instant mud after the first decent rainfall.  Indeed it’s one of the main reasons we struggle to sell weaners at this time of the year – not many people love mud that much!  Here’s an example of what we have to cope with:

Actually this isn’t too bad as the liquefied layer is only an inch or so deep.  If we have a wet November then by Christmas it’ll be halfway up my legs, well into welly-sticking territory.  It’s not pleasant to be standing in your socks in calf-deep mud (and poo).  Trust me.

The sheep and cows are mostly better, but in some ways worse.   Their mud forms, logically enough, around where they eat, drink and through gates.  Of course these are the areas where we most have to interact with them.  It also creates sites for easy transference of footrot/scald bacteria.  The sheep’s sharp hooves cut the grass up almost as much as the pigs, and if we don’t move their feed troughs quickly enough we end up with more acres of mud.

This year we’re planning on extending our concrete area around the animal restaurant.  This should give us a better base to feed the animals, and reduce the mud in at least one area.  However there are a number of factors affecting timing for that work, so it may not happen until the worst of the mud has gone…


No posts for a while as much non-animal related stuff going on.  So a quick update on where we are…

Muga – not limping at all, and definitely showing interest in his ewes.  He is still showing us some of the same interest when we’re feeding him, so we’re being extra cautious with him.

Footrot/Scald – will write more on this, but in general we have scald and not footrot.  At the moment Ishy seems to have a bad case, and I’ve had to spray her a couple of times.  Most of the rest seem to be ok at the moment…

Wrath – her wound has now scabbed nicely and we’r eno longer spraying her every day.  She and Avarice are definitely back to being greedy for food.

Electric fence in cow field – the sheep kept going through it so today we’ve redone it as three wires instead of two, and strimmed the grass underneath it.  Hopefully it will hold them.

Piggies – Sir Humph doesn’yt