Katy Whitby-last

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since Apr 18, 2011
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goat forest garden trees
North East Scotland
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Recent posts by Katy Whitby-last

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?
11 months ago
We have plenty of moisture - that certainly isn't a problem, but it isn't very sunny here (Highlands of Scotland). Would that make any berries grown here less effective?
11 months ago
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.
11 months ago
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.
Please don't use barbed wire. If you have ever seen an animal who has pushed through it the injuries are just horrible. Could you use electric or even plain wire instead?
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.
Unless there is another in the second horn of the uterus, which is very rare, the passing of the afterbirth indicates that you are all done. Well done and enjoy your lovely new addition