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Natural livestock meds

By Staff | Jan 27, 2017

DR. SUSAN BEAL, a veterinarian from Pennsylvania, speaks Saturday to attendees of the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference. Besides outlining natural medicines that can be used for routine treatment of animal injuries and ailments, she emphasized the need to spend more time watching animal behaviors for early recognition of health and welfare issues.

AMES – It’s not a case of the old becoming new again, rather than relearning what was once known.

That was the case Saturday morning when Susan Beal, a Pennsylvania veterinarian presented in Ames on what was in her natural medicine chest for livestock.

She spoke during the second day of the Practical Farmers of Iowa’s annual convention in the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus.

Taking a holistic, homeopathic approach to animal heath and wellness, Beal told about 90 listeners, most of whom raised some sort of livestock, which herbs, roots and wildflowers heal wounds and improve the general health in animals.

But before she got to what she described as “the good stuff,” she walked the crowd through general knowledge of animals – what to look for before knowing what natural remedy to grab.

Key to one’s knowledge base is understanding the interrelationship of nutritional minerals.

“We all have absolute and minimum mineral needs,” Beal said. “And if the animal is lacking in any mineral, its manure will lack it, so the forage it fertilizes will lack it.”

“If that (forage) is fed back to the animal …”

Switching gears, Beal said livestock owners have to get back into the habit of watching their animals’ behaviors.

“We all have a million things on our minds,” she said. “We don’t spend enough time paying attention to animals’ behavior.”

By knowing one’s animals’ behavior when they are healthy, growers can better spot when livestock exhibit mood swings, depression, or pain, she said.

Her tool box for assessing problems includes a flashlight to find lice in fur and hide and microscopes to examine fecal matter contents.

“But my favorite tool is common sense,” Beal said.

The good stuff

Beal recommended farms have free-range chickens. She said the raw eggs produced by those chickens “have all the antibiotics all the animals on that farm need.”

She added raw eggs mixed with milk or water can be used to clear scours in calves, as well as a host of health issues.

Other natural remedies Beal uses on a regular basis include:

  • Calendula: An herb that has superior antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant characteristics. The plant is related to the marigold family and can be used as a tea, a tincture (with flower blooms steeped for three weeks in vodka), a rubbing oil (blooms steeped in olive oil) or with shavings of beeswax, it can be a salve. She uses it in dressings to clean wounds and as an antiseptic to flush eyes and ears.

Beal said this herb “creates a healing tissue bed.”

It’s been known to be a medicinal herb since the 12th century.

  • Comfrey: Used strictly for topical purposes, Beal said she uses this herb as a poultice, to draw infections.
  • Medicinal mushrooms: Beal said these are useful for treating pork and poultry in boosting immune systems, protection against cancers, preventing blood clots.
  • Echinacea: Raises white blood cell counts and gives the immune system “a kick.” She said humans tend to over-use this herb. “If you are giving your immune system a kick everyday,” she said, “it will get exhausted.”
  • Garlic: This antibacterial and antiviral root can be steeped and given to livestock through their water intake. It is sometimes thought of as a cure-all, from colds to cancer prevention in the upper GI tract, lowering blood pressure.
  • Acorns: The acids in this nut are used by ruminant animals as an irritant to purge their systems of parasites, particularly worms.
  • Burdock root: Young shoots, peeled stalks and dried seeds carry numerous compounds that are known to have been antioxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties. A good source for potassium.
  • Cabbage: Useful as a poultice.

Other probiotic (repopulating digestive tracts with natural bacteria) and prebiotic (substances that induce the growth or activity of microorganisms) include yogurt and fermented foods, such as sauerkraut.

“These can remediate glysophate affects in livestock,” Beal said.

Acupuncture in livestock is another homeopathic practice for general animal well-being, she added.

Homeopathic medicines, Beal said, have few side effects and no withdrawal after use.

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