When raising healthy sheep, the goal is to feed only the sheep and not a batch of nasty moochers looking to literally suck the life and nutrition out of the animals. These little moochers are the parasites that are a very real part of life on virtually every farm. Sheep are prone to them, and unfortunately, many parasites have developed resistance to many of the wormers that were once very effective.
These wormers also have another downside – derived from chemicals, these pesticides are not exactly what we want to give to our darling pets, nor is it something you want to consume if you raise some of the sheep for the table, as we do. The lables on these commercial wormers provide withdrawl times before you can eat the animal, but we all know that toxins tend to acumulate in the fatty tissue, and how much is really cleansed out of the system?
For years, we had no parasite problems at all. We were able to use diatomaceous earth as our sole wormer and fecal counts from the vet came back with no parasites. Then we brought in a few sheep, and despite worming them upon their arrival, they obviously had a strain of parasite that was resistant to the wormer. Failure to thrive started appearing, which caused us to look at the flock and our program in a new light.
Research showed that natural iodine, such as Thorvine Kelp, added to the diet would help the sheep to fight parasites naturally, but when faced with a persistant problem, it is only a bandage. We also tried making fresh garlic juice and drenching the sheep, which we had read is also effective. This was funny during administration time. We used this with some lambs we were setting aside for butchering, and felt like we were seasoning them ahead of time…
Thank God for my friend Esther. She is another local farmer raising animals, mostly chickens, but with years of experience raising cattle and other animals. She is also a superiour gardener and it is always so interesting to talk with her – I always learn something. Yesterday, I learned something from her yet again, about her system of parasite control. Having had a resistant problem in her flock, and not willing to use toxins to solve it, she searched for a solution and found Olive Leaf (olea europaea). She was able to mix this into her chickens “mash” and within a short period of time her chickens are laying better and the size of the eggs has jumped to jumbo.
Googling Olive Leaf, shows that it has been used for health benefits for both humans and animals – all sorts of them. According to the articles, horses, cattle, sheep, all can benefit from properties within this bountiful plant, and we have decided to give this a try for the next several months and see what benefits our sheep can derive. I intend to update this post, and during the worst parasite month – typically July, I will get some fecal counts from our veterinarian.
Esther also recommended a tincture from Mountain Meadow Herbs called Para-Rid that in addition to having olive leaf, also has wormwood and black walnut hull extract. Mountain Meadow Herbs has a sale running until tomorrow, and I may explore trying some of this with a few of my sheep. I will update this post with more information as our experiment unfolds.