Melba Corbett wrote:There is a difference in toxicity levels between Sambucus Nigra, (European varieties), and Sambucus Canadensis (American varieties), and then there is the Sambucus Racemose (red variety of berries). Young plants are apparently more toxic. With goats, it may depend on how much they eat of it. If they have plenty of variety and not overly hungry they tend to not eat as much of a toxic plant. My goats frequently eat elderberry and have never had problems. I knew a lady who juiced the berries, including the unripe ones and got very sick with diarrhea and vomiting. Heating or cooking the berries neutralizes the toxins. Goats can often ingest plants people or other livestock cannot eat, with no problems. Probably best to proceed with caution, maybe try one or two animals first to see if they get sick from it, before turning the whole herd in.
Melba of the species that you mention which are the most toxic?
Is there a difference in the effectiveness of berries from different varieties of elderberry? I have planted a lot of standard elderberries in our hedging but also have one of the purple elders (Sambucus Nigra Black Lace) in the garden and wondered which to use.
Deborah, I read your article and I'd be interested in how you manage the calcium / copper balance. We are in an area with high molybdenum because of high rainfall and I feed a goat specific mineral. However, we need to feed quite high levels of calcium as some of my milkers are producing 2 gallons of milk per day which I expect could inhibit uptake of copper. We don't have any signs of copper deficiency but I would rather avoid a problem before it arises.
Ragwort IS toxic to sheep they are just not quite so sensitive to it as horses and tend to have much shorter lives so that the liver damage does not become so obvious. Personally I wouldn't graze anything on ragwort. I dig up all of the rosettes and put clover seed down in the bare patches. I rarely see it on my land these days.
They really need milk to grow properly. My kids get milk until 6 months of age but I have weaned males at 4.5 months if they are uncastrated. If they are fairly young they will not manage on just browsings and grass.
Your tup should be fine with a wether in with him just make sure that they either both have horns or both don't. If they don't know each other already then make up a very small pen that you put them in for a couple of hours. They shouldn't be able to move around at all. This way they will get each others smell on them and won't be able to injure each other. When you let them out make sure the ewes are not nearby so that the tup doesn't feel the need to compete with the wether for them.
With your ewes they can vary enormously as to how long in advance they bag up. First timers may be just a few days, some older ewes or very milky first timers it can be a month in advance.
The main indication for dropping the lambs is their behaviour. Look for pawing the ground, restlessness, some will go off their food. If you can get close enough to see the vulva will be puffy and darker coloured and you may see a discharge.
It is possible to get your ewes scanned with an ultrasound scanner which would tell you if they are pregnant and, depending on the stage that they are at, may be able to tell you roughly how far along they are. In the UK there are specialist scanners who travel around or vets sometimes do it.
If you haven't rotated pasture yet at all I would personally do a FEC to ascertain what their current worm burden is. You can then plan your strategy accordingly - whether it is preventative treatment through feeding herbs or chicory etc or antithelmetics targeted to the species of worms that are present in high numbers.
I just have a smallholding. We have a small flock of sheep that I am selectively breeding for fleece quality, though we eat them as well. I also have milking goats, geese, ducks, hens and sometimes pigs. I'm in the process of creating a forest garden and I'm trying to redesign the layout of the fields so that it is easier to mob graze them and still let the goats get to shelter.
Most of the permie people I know up here aren't online much which is probably why your web searches aren't turning up much.
If you are ever up this way you are very welcome to come and visit.
Hi Anna. I'm in Scotland too but further north (Aberdeenshire). I can understand you wanting to be somewhere warmer as I've been freezing in the snow today as I go out to check whether the ewes are lambing. The only problem is that, certainly in the UK, warmer generally means more expensive.
There is a Permaculture North Scotland and the Isles Facebook group and a Permaculture Scotland Yahoo group and Facebook group if you want to get in contact with more Scots.
You really need to get an FEC done as the swelling could be caused by liver fluke. These will not be killed off by Panacur and you would need a specific flukicide that works for the stage of development of the fluke present.
If you aren't sure of your goat's weight for dosing there are guides online that help you to calculate weight by measuring girth and length ( sorry I can't access one right now to link to)
How about mulching with newspaper for some of the crops. It's easier to get to the allotment as you can take it in a bit at a time and you could get extras from the recycling centre. If you soak it well it should stay put unless you are somewhere really windy. If the slugs collect under the paper you can easily pull it up and dispose of them.
When I have to use electric fencing for my goats I use the horse tape. You have to put the strands quite close together so that they don't jump through between them but it works quite well. I have different types of electric fencing for the chickens - I use the netting stuff - but it is never used in the same area as the goats or sheep in case they get caught in it. I wait until they have moved on then put the chickens in.
One factor to take into consideration is whether your goats have horns. If so I would avoid the netting type fence as they can get stuck in it and end up getting continually shocked. There are probably lots of people who use these fences with horned goats but it isn't a risk that I would personally be prepared to take.
Sheep and goats don't compete much and should be compatible. Sheep prefer grass and goats forbs.
We sometimes have some of our sheep in the same area as our goats (over winter when I need them all nearby to make things easier for me) and I have found that the matriarch of the goat herd can be quite forceful with the sheep near the hay feeders. She is disbudded so can't do more then slam into them but if she was horned I wouldn't keep them together. When the matriarch isn't there (when she's in the maternity pen) the next goat down in the hierarchy does the same thing.
I seem to remember you mentioning that she had a difficult birth last time and didn't dilate properly. If it was me I would go for the Caesarian option as it sounds like she has problems with her cervix so you at least have live lambs at the end of the process. If she survives she can at least raise the lambs. Her chances of surviving the surgery are better if it is done before she gets into too much difficulty with the birth.
I don't know if it will affect you down in Wales but here, although the winds are predominantly westerly it is the easterlies that bring the really cold weather and snow. If you get the same you might want to think about curved windbreaks open on the southerly side
You don't need to worry about Coccidia as they are species specific so the goats will not be affected by Coccidia from the poultry and vice versa. The main issue that you will have is keeping the goats away from the poultry feed (as they can suffer from bloat if they gorge on the hen food) and stopping them from jumping all over your hen house.
R Ransom. If it was her cervix failing to dilate that is likely to be a case of ring womb and I wouldn't breed from her again. If it happens again this time you will need to manually dilate the cervix with your fingers. I would suggest asking your vet to show you how to do it so that you are prepared. Good luck
Yes all the chestnuts in the UK tend to be in the south of England where the big coppice woods are. We are pretty borderline here for growing lots of stuff so I'd rather grow from seed and try as many types as possible to increase my chances of getting some sort of crop.
One thing I would check is the level of the water table. You mention that you have dug test pits and you are on clay. Have you left those pits open? If not I would suggest leaving some and see if they fill up with water at all. I only mention this because up here where I am also on clay soil any hole in the ground just fills up with water and that may affect your decisions about your foundations.
One of the important things with this method is to mulch well beyond the areas that you wish to plant (as you did with the paths) otherwise weeds like couch grass and ground elder just run along under the cardboard and find a way through after the mulch has started to rot down or when you harvest.
If she is close to lambing (ie in the last month of gestation) she won't eat as much roughage as the lambs are taking up so much space that she can't fill her rumen adequately. If she is eating grain that is great and will give her the calories she requires. You can always offer some molasses on her grain to give her an extra boost.
The other sheep specific book to help with lambing that I really like is:
Tyne "the Sheep Book for Smallholders" I like this because it has chapters on specific times of the year and the particular issues that may present at those times, so it covers the pre and post lambing period as well.
For goats, the book I would recommend is:
John Matthews "Diseases of the Goat" I don't know about elsewhere but in the UK most vets know very little about goats as they are barely covered in the syllabus for a veterinary degree. there are no pictures as it is geared towards vets themselves but I find it handy to lend to my vet
Kelly, I have a wee lambing box that stays nearby when lambs are due and it has the following things in it:
phone number of my very knowledgeable neighbour and the vet
obstetric lubricant in case I need to assist a birth (I also have a wee bottle of antiseptic hand wash so I can clean my hands first without having to run back to the house)
injectable calcium (Calciject in the UK) plus appropriate sized needles and syringes in case of hypocalcaemia (I had my first ever case last year and was glad I had it to hand)
twin lamb drench in case of pregnancy toxaemia
Iodine for dipping navels
rubber rings and applicator for castrating males
powdered colostrum, syringe and tube in case I need to tube feed a sickly lamb (only use this if you have been shown how otherwise you can put the liquid into the lungs)
dental floss for tying off an umbilical cord that hasn't closed off and is still bleeding ( this can sometimes happen if they are born fast)
a copy of "A Manual of Lambing Techniques" by Winter & Hill
Many of these things you won't use but are important to have on hand because if you do need them you need them at that moment not when you've had a chance to get them from somewhere.
One thing to watch out for with easy lambers is the second twin. Often they come out so fast they are still in the membranes and if mum is busy with the first born she doesn't get the membranes off in time and they can suffocate. In that situation I always pull the membranes off myself as soon as they are out and clear the nose then leave mum to do the rest.
I rarely have to intervene with my girls but I like to be prepared and keep a close eye on them so that I can step in and help if needed.
It's very unusual for them not to bag up at least a week before lambing, particularly in ewes who have lambed before.
We are expecting goat kids around the end of February and our lambs are due at the end of April. I prefer to lamb later when the weather is slightly less inclement and there is some grass growth for turn out. I usually do the same with the goats but I had a buyer for my billy so covering took place earlier than usual.
I prefer to know when lambs are due as I give my ewes supplementary feed in the 6 weeks prior to lambing to reduce the risk of pregnancy toxaemia. They also get extra ACV in this period to help reduce lambing difficulties.