Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sheep or Goat Feeling Oogy? Give Him a Beer!

I'd like to pass along a valuable tip given to us by John and Alice Moore of Redgate Zwartbles Flock 252, who raise beautiful Zwartbles sheep at their farm on the Shropshire/Mid Wales borders in Great Britain. Be sure to visit their public Redgate Zwartbles Facebook pages and view their lovely sheep.

At the time, our enormous Boer-Nubian goat wether, Salem, was feeding poorly and didn't want to eat. We'd given him vitamin B injections and oral probiotics to no avail. Alice said to feed him beer.

Yes, beer. As soon as she said it I recalled reading about old-time horsemen drenching colicky horses with beer.

Alice had gotten the tip from an old Welsh shepherdess when one of the Redgate Zwartbles was sick. Given beer the ewe recovered. So off we went to buy Salem some beer.

We needed dark beer, the darker the better. Keep in mind that neither John nor I drink and we live in a 'dry' county in northern Arkansas. There's a liquor store across the state line in Thayer, Missouri, but just one, so we didn't have a lot of types of beer to choose from. We decided on the store's only bock beer. It wasn't as dark as we'd have liked but "bock" means "buck" in German. We took that as a sign.

The next trick was feeding it to Salem. We tried drawing it into a dose syringe and ended up with 5 cc of beer and 25cc of foam in the chamber. So, we decided it must be done the old-fashioned way. I forced Salem's mouth open and John poured in a little beer. Salem gulped, swallowed, and licked his lips. We kept it up, always giving him time to swallow, until the bottle was empty (since Salem wasn't exactly standing still, some of it splashed on the ground). That evening we gave him another beer and by then he decided he liked it. When I checked on him later that night, he was happily munching hay. Fantastic!

A beer bottle topped with a calf bucket nipple with a slightly smaller than 1/4" hole
cut in the end makes a first-class straight-from-the-bottle sheep and goat drencher. 

The next time we needed it, we were prepared. John (just call him McGyver) figured out a safer system for dosing beer. He bought a calf bucket replacement nipple from the feed store and opened a slightly smaller than ¼" hole in the end. This can be snugged down over the neck of a beer bottle, protecting the animal's mouth and also helping assure the bottle doesn't break.

Tumnus LOVED his beer!

This next patient was Tumnus, another Boer-Nubian wether of somewhat smaller size. Tumnus loved the beer and begged for more. Again, after two beers, one in the morning and another in late afternoon, he was right as rain.

Recently one of my purebred Nubian wethers, Hutch, went off his feed and out came the beer. At first taste Hutch gagged and his eyes bugged out on stems. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! But Hutch, too, improved after two feedings (maybe so he wouldn't have to choke down any more beer).

Is it the hops that do the trick? We don't know! Keep in mind that we dose with beer in addition to doing more straightforward medical things. But if you have a sick sheep or goat, haul out the beer and give it a try. It just might work!

P.S. We were later told that by allowing the beer to go flat, it's possible to dose using a dose syringe. But maybe the bubbles help? Since we're not sure, we'll keep on dosing beer straight from the bottle, just in case.
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