Ten Commandments for Raising Healthy Livestock

Veterinarian Randy Kidd reminds us when raising livestock (and pets!), the best "cure" for diseases is a sound prevention program.

| July/August 1979

If you live or plan to live in the country, your plans probably include raising livestock for food or fiber. Now some homesteaders are content with a few egg-laying chickens and a dairy goat, while others hope to start a full-fledged livestock operation. But whether your goal is a few gallons of buttermilk or a whole herd of beefalo, you'll have to be absolutely dedicated to keeping your critters healthy.

There is, of course, a practical monetary reason for such a conscientious disease-prevention effort: Animals that are in less than peak condition simply don't produce their maximum in meat, wool, eggs, or milk. And unless you're a lot richer than I am, you plain can't afford to be constantly funneling feed into such "uneconomical" critters.

In addition, there's an ethical reason for doing your best to keep your animals perfectly hale and hearty. Every livestock or pet owner is a guardian of his or her beasts and fowl, and therefore is morally responsible for giving the animals the very best of care during their lifetimes.

Fortunately, maintaining healthy livestock is by no means an impossible or even an overly time-consuming task. On the contrary, if you take the time to learn and consistently follow a few basic guidelines for animal husbandry, your critters will thrive like shoots in springtime. These "rules of the animal health road" (which are guaranteed to help keep any cow, cur, goat, or guinea absolutely fit) are called: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR HEALTHY LIVESTOCK.

Keeping the Right Animals

I. Recognize your market. Before you begin to "stock up" on farm animals, take a good hard look at who will be eating or using their meat or produce. A realistic appraisal will show that—at least in the beginning—the main market for such products will be your own family. It's often difficult to try to turn your critters into moneymakers because the minute you put up a FOR SALE sign, you're competing with all the food conglomerates and "plastic" food producers. And although you know that homegrown "vittles" are tastier and more wholesome than the mass-raised, chemical-injected variety, quality eats are also more expensive in most cases than are store-bought foods. Unfortunately, as we all know, the average food buyer is shortsightedly more cost- than health-conscious.

So don't raise a critter unless you want its products! If your family treats goat milk like some foul-tasting medicine, don't own half a dozen nannies that each give a gallon of milk a day but devour your grain supplies in the process. If you can't see yourself ever butchering any cute-looking rabbits, don't keep a hutch full of the rapidly multiplying mammals.

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