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An Ounce of Prevention


This week has been “pedicure week” for the girls. We have thirty-two goats, who all have four feet. That’s a lot of feet to trim. My bib overall-wearing buddy did the pedicures over the course of two days. The Bibbed Wonder sits on a five-gallon bucket while the girls eat grain, and he trims their hooves. After hours of sitting in a hunched-over position, he is getting around almost as well as me. Farming is not for the weak.

 

This time of year is brutal on the goats’ feet. With consistent rainfall for the past several weeks and the melting snow, the ground is saturated, making it difficult for their feet to dry out. Although the barn is warm and dry, the girls don’t want to spend these rare sunny days inside. When their feet don’t have an opportunity to dry out properly, they develop hoof rot. Hoof rot is the bane of our existence. We have difficulty keeping hoof rot at bay during the spring and wet seasons. Hoof rot is a bacterial infection that can lead to lameness and even death if left untreated. Not only is it painful, but it is also highly contagious. Hoof rot is the devil.

 

The Bibbed Wonder takes preventive measures to fight hoof rot and its spread. He pours a heavy coating of lime on the barn floor near the big doors. The goats must walk through the lime to go outside. The lime helps to battle the hoof rot. Also, when he trims their feet, he has a solution that he squirts in between their toes and makes a copper sulfate poultice that he packs between them. This, too, is preventative if they have not developed hoof rot, and it treats them if they do have the beginning of an infection.

 

With thirty-two goats to maintain and keep track of, The Bibbed Wonder uses a color-coded marking system to decipher each goat’s needs. If they are healthy, they get a green stripe on their back using a harmless chalk-based marker. If they need hoof care, they get a pink stripe. It is the easiest way to keep track of everyone and give them the optimum care. If a goat has a pink stripe, their feet are checked and treated daily until the infection is cleared.

Treating them requires them to be brought into a stall individually each day, sometimes twice a day, to have their hooves cleaned, dried, and treated with medicine and a copper sulfate poultice. If the infection is deemed worse than the mere beginning of an infection, the goat is kept in a dry stall so as not to spread the disease. Again, hoof rot is the devil. We rarely have to keep a goat stalled because of hoof rot. Eric is an excellent farmer who prioritizes the girls’ care.

 

Keeping the girls safe and healthy is a top priority. One cannot slack or be lazy about hoof care, especially when the ground doesn’t have time to dry out properly. Most of the girls are very cooperative about having their feet cared for. However, at least one always puts up a fight and isn’t comfortable with having their feet lifted, cleaned, and trimmed. It is usually the young goats who are difficult and uncooperative. Fortunately, The Bibbed Wonder is the epitome of patience. He is always gentle and talks quietly to them. When he feels like he has reached the end of his patience, he walks away, takes a break, and returns to business once he feels rejuvenated. Most girls are happy to have unlimited grain in front of them and stand quietly. We really do have a lovely herd of girls.

 

Checking for healthy feet adds hours to the morning chores. As I sit writing to you, he is out in the pasture, checking everyone once again and bringing in the girls who show signs of infection. There is so much more to farming than just feeding and milking. However, as long as The Bibbed Wonder continues to enjoy this lifestyle, we will continue to do what we do best: care for our girls, give them the best life possible, and make great products.

 

On this lovely spring-like day, stay safe, be smart, remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and keep washing your hands.

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You ALL are amazing!

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