Why avoid chemical antibiotics in the barn:
While factory farming makes extensive use of routine antibiotics in livestock feeding and animal husbandry, most homesteaders avoid the use of antibiotics in all but extreme emergencies. This is a good change. Routine use of antibiotics in food livestock has given rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria — deadly bacteria. Those of us who raise our own food, want to ensure that we also aren’t raising antibiotic resistant Super-bugs. By limiting our use of anti-biotics on the homestead we can create healthier food and healthier animals.
Livestock that receives adequate natural food, minerals, and pasture for their needs will be naturally resistant to most diseases. When disease does crop up, it can often be traced to a husbandry issue, unsanitary housing conditions, inadequate ventilation, over grazed pastures, or wet, damp weather and ground conditions. By keeping livestock on clean pastures, ensuring that your animals have adequate minerals, including enough copper sulphate for goats, and giving them dry, well limed bedding to keep the noxious odors down, you will avoid most disease issues with your animals.
Home based veterinary medicine:
When health issues do arise, and they will, you can in many instances, turn to home based veterinary medicines to support your animals’ healing. Herbs can be more effective than chemical medicines for livestock, just as they are for humans. They can help heal the systemic issues because they are nutritive as well as healing. At Joybilee Farm we look to herbal medicine first, before calling the vet. This article is part of a series of article on using herbal homebased medicine on your homestead for your livestock.
How to make an herbal salve for minor cuts, abrasions, bites, and scratches:
Herbs that are specific to fight inflammation and infection are your first choices in making a first aid salve for your livestock. Herbs like balm of gilead, pine, willow, St. Johns Wort, Calendula, comfrey, rose, and arnica can be combined in olive olive to make a healing salve for mild skin abrasions and to fight infection and inflammation. Add to this tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil for their antibiotic effect.
To make an herbal salve for your livestock begin by gathering:
Balm of Gilead (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa0)– these are the black cottonwood or balsam popular (Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera) buds. Gather them any time after leaf drop in Fall until bud break in Spring. If you are too late and need the healing properties of this plant during the Summer, gather leaves and twigs and simmer in olive oil (don’t boil) — willow bark (Salix spp.) can also be used in this remedy if you can’t get balm of Gilead. Immerse the buds with their red resinous droplets in Olive Oil. Slowly warm the oil over a low heat, and heat gently for one hour. Strain and reserve the oil.
Pine Pitch (pinus spp)– Immerse pine pitch in olive oil and simmer gently until pitch is completely melted. Strain and reserve the oil.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perfatorum)- Gather the blossoms in July. Make an oil infusion by filling a quart jar with flowers and olive oil. Leave on a sunny window sill for 2 weeks. Strain the oil and reserve.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)- Gather the blossoms in August and September. Make an oil infusion by filling a quart jar with flowers and olive oil. Leave on a sunny window sill for 2 weeks. Strain the oil and reserve.
Rose (Rosa canina)– Gather the blossoms in June and July. Make an oil infusion by filling a quart jar with flowers and olive oil. Leave on a sunny window sill for 2 weeks. Strain the oil and reserve.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)– Gather the young leaves as they grow. The younger leaves have more allantoin than older leaves. Make an oil infusion by filling a quart jar with leaves and olive oil. Leave on a sunny window sill for 2 weeks. Strain the oil and reserve.
Arnica (Arnica montana) – This is the yellow sunflower that is seen growing on the hillsides in dry climates May to August. It is irritating when swallowed but is healing when used topically. Gather the flowers when in bloom. Make an oil infusion by filling a quart jar with flowers and olive oil. Leave on a sunny window sill for 2 weeks. Strain the oil and reserve.
To make the salve, gather all these infused oils or infuse the oil yourself as needed from dried plant materials. You can purchase these herbs as dried herbs, at Mountain Rose Herbs, if you are unable to grow them yourself.
Recipe: Herbal Salve for Homestead Livestock Use:
1/4 cup grated beeswax
2 tbsp. each of Infused oils of: Balm of Gilead, Pine, Comfrey, Rose, Calendula, St. Johns Wort, and Arnica. (1 cup of infused oil in total)
1/4 tsp. oil of oregano
1/4 cup Virgin Coconut Oil
Simmer all ingredients in a sauce pan, just until bees wax and coconut oil is melted. Add 1 tsp. vitamin E oil (natural source). Pour into 1/2 pint glass jar. Will keep for 1 year if kept in a cool, dry place.
When to use herbal salve:
When your animal has a nick, scratch, bruise, or swelling wash the affected area with hot water, soap, and rinse with hydrogen peroxide. Dry thoroughly. Apply salve liberally. Repeat twice daily. The addition of pine to this salve makes it a drawing salve, as well as a healing salve. This salve is anti fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and encourages cell division and healing. May be used on sprains, bruises, and areas with broken bones. In severe injury this salve will support other therapies in healing your animal.
If your animal is being bedded down in dirty conditions, you will need to clean up the environment that your animal is housed in to see strong results with this herbal remedy. Animals that are kept in unsanitary conditions will become reinfected easily. Keep your animals on clean dry ground, with adequate ventilation for best results.
Where to buy Herbal Salve:
If you don’t have the time or resources to make your own herbal salve you can purchase the one that I make here.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinary and I do not give veterinary advise. I am sharing the recipes that I use on my own farm, with success. Your success rate may differ. If you have a serious issue with your livestock please consult your own alternative holistic veterinarian. If you are new to making herbal medicine please consult a reliable in print plant identification guide before you gather plant material from the wild. Some plants are poisonous.