Farm Animal Q&A

I had many questions when beginning to raise animals in a natural and holistic way. I raised sheep for FFA and a boer/nubian cross goat as a pet in high school. Then, I just did what everybody else did. However, my travels and education have left me searching for better ways to raise animals. Some questions were a lot harder to find answers to than others. **Note, I keep my goats, chickens and ducks on a natural diet and thus do not use chemical dewormers, copper boluses or other chemical medicines. Quick solutions will not be found here, I focused on starting animals properly from the beginning of their live to allow their bodies to build up the natural immunities they have to common ailments.

My research in how to do this began with Juliette de Baïracli Levy ‘s book, the Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable. Other questions have been answered via Molly’s Herbals, where I also buy my herbal dewormer. If you’re curious where to start on your natural living journey, I suggest to begin with those.


Can I cure Bumblefoot in ducks/chickens without “surgery” ? 

I cured Bumblefoot on my duck by daily soaking the foot for 20 minutes in Epsom salt and wrapping the foot with paper towel padding under vet wrap. Before wrapping, I slathered the foot with an herbal salve of coconut oil, fresh lavender, fresh sage, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, liquid vitamin E,  powdered turmeric, cinnamon and yarrow. Doing this caused no discomfort to the duck and the herbs helped the duck to push the infection out naturally. Within two weeks the infection did this:

Left_7days_Magnolia Left_13daysMagnolia

Her foot was soaked and re-wrapped every day the first week, and every two days the second week.

Herbal Salve recipe:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1-2 springs fresh lavender
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid vitamin E
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

I also added occasional apple cider vinegar to her water to help boost her immune system during the healing process.

Can I raise ducklings and chicks together?

Yes, you can raise them together, (more about that here) but as they hit puberty things get more tricky. You cannot keep a duck drake with chicken hens, as he can hurt your chickens trying to mate with them (causing prolapsed vents, among other things). Drakes and roosters would probably fight. If you end up with both ducks hens and chicken hens, they could all happily live together, although the ducks make more of a mess than chickens do.

“Why don’t you wash your chicken eggs?”

Leaving chicken eggs unwashed leaves the protective coating on them that the hen provides it to keep bacteria from entering into the pores of the eggs shell. By not washing the eggs, they can stay at room temperature for weeks, and even longer in the fridge!

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How do I know if my dairy goat is pregnant?

Preg-check her if you really want to know. I learned to draw blood and sent a sample using BioPRYN. The labs they work with are friendly and the test kits are fast, helpful and simple (although I bought a 22-gauge needle to use instead of the 18-gauge needle provided. The needle seemed huge for my pint-sized goat!)


My dairy goat has a string of blood in her milk. Should I be concerned?

So far in my experience, as long as it is only a tiny string and the milk smells and is otherwise normal, she probably bruised her udder somehow, either by a rough-nursing kid, a rough electric milker or roughhousing in her pen. This hast he potential to be a much more serious issue, like mastitis, among other things, and requires very close monitoring.

Do I really need to worry about copper in my goat’s diet?

Yes. Copper is vital to a goat’s diet. Be sure he/she has free access to either loose minerals or a red mineral block that isn’t for sheep (sheep can’t have copper, thus it is left out.) I have a separate bucket in my goat pen for loose mineral (I like this one) and my goats nibble at it regularly.

My goat’s coat is dull, dry and flaky. Why?

Most likely your goat isn’t getting a mineral it needs, and more specifically, probably Selenium. When this happened to my dairy goat shortly before giving birth, my research led me to begin a daily supplement of the natural herb Mix_Kop-Sel™ from Fir Meadows.  I do not live in a partially selenium deficient area, but it seems that that is what she was missing. It took a few weeks to become noticeable, but she’s shiny and slippery as an eel now.

Nilahs Dry Skin March MilkingAGoat_Pinterest







Can my goat survive on grain?

Your goat needs roughage for their four stomachs to work properly. Feeding a diet of just grain is asking for bloat and other problems. I give my two goats half a flake of alfalfa to share, twice as a day, to graze on throughout the day and they have access to grass and wild desert plants to graze on occasionally through monitored grazing walks.

How much grain do you give your Nigerian Dwarf doe in milk?

My doe gets about two cups of grains in the morning during milking, consisting of black oil sunflower seeds, rolled oats and some sweet feed. She finishes this in about the time it takes me to finish milking her. On Sundays with her herbal dewormer she also gets a drizzle of molasses to help mix the powder in.


What supplements does my desert dairy goat need?

I’ve found that my doe looks her best and produces wonderful tasting milk with daily kelp supplement, black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS), the Kop-Sel supplement and her weekly herbal dewormer in addition to free access to minerals and monitored grazing walks where she finds Jojoba nuts/leaves, raspberry leaves and cactus fruit, among other desert plants).

How much milk can you get from a Nigerian Dwarf doe, on her first freshening, while separating her kid overnight and milking in the morning?

My goat buckling was raised by his mother.  I separate him at night and milk between 5-6am every morning and get between 6-8 oz. of milk.

Will my goat kid be friendly if he is raised by his mother?

Just after being born my goat kid saw me. He was licked by his mother and fussed over by me, and thus has seemed to consider me a second mom. He received daily snuggles and attention from me and is thus as friendly as any bottle raised kid, but I believe this is largely due to his personality and is not the case with all dairy goats. Thus, he is still here and hasn’t been sold.