4-H Health Rocks
Chuck Denney-Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
A good bit of Tennessee land is hilly and rocky. It’s not so good for crops, but agriculture still happens here with small animal farming. Tennessee is the second leading state for goats.
Jerry Lamb (UT Extension-Rhea County)
“We’ve seen an influx of small ruminant producers. You can drive throughout the county and everybody has five or six little goats in their back yard.”
Jerry Lamb with UT Extension in Rhea County hosted goat and sheep producers from all over the state at this workshop. He instructs farmers in how to protect their animals from tiny internal parasites or worms that can infect the stomach.
“Today we’re looking at different types of wormers they can use. We’re looking at management strategies as far as forages, rotational grazing systems.”
Indoors with a microscope, Lamb also does what’s known as a fecal egg count. If a farmer finds parasite eggs, their medication is not working very well. When farmers learn to test these samples on their own, they save money and protect their herds.
Mike Taylor (Bradley County Producer)
“There’s very few things that occur in goat or sheep that somebody here hasn’t already experienced. You’re never too old to learn.”
Internal parasites are the number one health problem for goats and sheep. Neither has a good immune system, and their grazing habits are also to blame. These animals like to eat grass that grows close to the ground, and that can cause problems.
Dr. Fred Hopkins (UT Animal Science)
“They pick up the immature forms from the grass or whatever herb or plant they’re eating and that completes the life cycle.”
UT’s Dr. Fred Hopkins says parasites can cause internal bleeding and other serious health problems for small animals.
Dr. Fred Hopkins
“Their growth rate, yes. Or their production of milk or whatever their job is as an animal. But they can die also, so it’s not just not doing well or not looking so well.”
“When they become anemic because of blood loss, they basically quit feeding and become unproductive.”
Both Lamb and Hopkins encourage producers to test often for parasites, and take steps to eliminate the problem if they find it. The market is promising for small animal farming in Tennessee, but producers must be focused on herd health and management.
NOTE: This small animal workshop was held with UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Southeast Tennessee Goat & Sheep Marketing Alliance.