Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Natural cure (and prevention) for foot rot in goats and other animals

Several years ago, I began learning about the benefits of copper as a supplement.  I learned that it is actually a necessary mineral for goats, cows and sheep, and is best absorbed in sulphate form.

     What prompted the research was a case of foot rot in one of my goats.  I was unaware that it was foot rot until someone diagnosed it for me over the phone.  I had noticed that his foot had been swollen for a couple days, but didn't pay much attention to it, thinking that a bug might have bitten or stung him.  After about three days from the time that I initially noticed the swelling he was limping badly.  I mentioned this to a man who was interested in buying him, and he said that it might be foot rot.  He said to check and see if it smelled bad, and that if so, it was probably foot rot.

     I checked, and sure enough there was a strong putrid smell to it.  So I started researching  a natural, and speedy, cure for foot rot online.  There was very little information to be found.  I wasted an additional two days before we finally called our friends who raise sheep naturally.  By this time he had stopped eating, and I could see that his foot was literally rotting and would fall off if something wasn't done fast.  If there had been any fast- acting cure which I could obtain, that wasn't ridiculously expensive, whether chemical, drug, or herb, I would probably have tried it.

     We finally called the S. family, and they gave us the recipe for the natural foot rot cure.  (They had gone through their own troubles with this- and they originally went the conventional route.  Their whole flock of sheep came down with foot rot, and the treatment involved soaking all four feet in a solution every day.  They tried it for a year, and then found the real cure.)

     Here's the recipe (well, the recipe the best I can remember it- somehow I lost the original, but this should work):
                                   1/4 lb. copper sulphate
                                   4 cups water
                                   1/4 cup vinegar
     Mix all ingredients in a plastic container until copper is dissolved.

      The directions given to me by Mrs. S. were that "Crocky's" foot was to be soaked for ten minutes in this solution, and that the treatment was to be repeated the next day if necessary.  It was that simple.  One 10 minute soaking killed the rot.  I did soak it again the next day, but don't think I needed to.  The day after the soaking however, I had to take a pair of scissors and trim off the dead flesh on his foot, which was a very disagreeable job, to say the least of it...

     We had been unable to obtain the copper until the day after I'd contacted the S's, and by the time that we had the cure, Crocky's foot had received irreparable damage.  In fact, one of the two hooves on it actually fell off, and when it healed, the other curled round, forming a hook.  This bad foot didn't cause him too much trouble, although he'll probably always limp.

His deformed hoof, a few months after treatment.

     I now own a book which I so wish I'd had before.  Among other things, it explains how important copper is to animals, and why.  The title is Natural Goat Care, by Pat Coleby, and it is available from Hoegger Goat Supply here.

     Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and according to Coleby, foot rot will never be a problem if goats are fed adequate copper.  I have been feeding it to them ever since that episode, and the rot has never recurred.