Learning what to do when you can’t call a doctor may save your life when living off the grid or during a disaster scenario. Discovering what to do when you can’t call a vet is equally important for animals. Keeping your livestock healthy so they can ultimately feed your family or be used for farm work or transportation requires a little bit of learning and stockpiling of animal preps.
I am not a veterinarian, but have been sharing these old-fashioned home remedies with other livestock owners and members of our local Amish community. I find myself in the kitchen mixing the salves and sprays more and more for friends and neighbors looking for inexpensive alternatives to commercial aides filled with synthetic ingredients. I have used all of the sprays and salves on humans and on domesticated pets, as well. Although I have never known any person or animal to have an adverse reaction to any of the home remedies, use these tips, hints and recipes at your own risk.
Livestock Fly Spray
The fly spray is good for keeping away nearly all manners of insects. Before I go out to the barn for a ride, I lather up with it, as well.
- Half gallon of distilled white vinegar
- Bottle of Witch Hazel
- Tablespoon of Tea Tree Oil
- 1 cup of mouthwash
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 3 cups of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid
Tea tree oil is a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory agent. It will help prevent infection from bites and take down swelling. The olive oil helps to coat the fur or feather and keeps the spray from sliding away quickly before sinking into the skin. Apply liberally before or when flying pests become a problem.
My cousin-in-law operates a farm and has taken to calling my great-grandpa’s concoction “miracle salve.” While it does not work miracles, I have seen it do wonders on tendon and muscle issues. An injured horse will not be able to do its job and a cow or goat that cannot stand will be nearly impossible to milk. The salve also bolsters healing.
My grandpa put it on our cuts and bruises as soon as we were old enough to wander around his farm and get boo-boos. After slicing the tip of my finger so deeply that I should have gotten stitches and figured my fingernail would never grow back, I slapped some of the salve on to try to stop the wound from continually splitting open. The salve once again did its job and allowed my finger to heal. There is a scar but the wound never got infected.
I have also rubbed the salve onto pets and livestock when hot spots became an issue. When Sadie, a sweet old pony developed a suspensory tendon issue, we began applying the salve once a day in the morning and wrapping ice packs around the area when doing light walking in a paddock in the early evening. It took nearly three months for her to recover, but she was finally able to once again put weight on her leg. The salve has also been successful in helping burns heal. While suspensory tendon issues are common in older and work horses, make sure to check for a hoof puncture before assuming the injury is a leg issue.
A horse with such a tendon issue will not put weight on a sore leg unless absolutely necessary, but the same mannerism is common with a hoof wound. Clean the hoof, pour peroxide in a bucket and soak the hoof and watch for bubbles. If there are bubbles, carefully go over the bottom of the hoof to look for an impalement or signs of infection.
To make the miracle salve, simply mix together in equal parts petroleum jelly and turpentine and gently rub onto affected area.
Aloe Vera Gel
While you can get gel from the aloe vera plants, it would take a multitude of the common kitchen window inhabitants to garner enough gel. Health food stores and big box discount stores routinely stock small jugs of aloe vera gel. In addition to being used on human burns, the gel can also be used to reduce skin inflammations from bug bites, animal bits and cuts. Aloe vera gel, like tea tree oil, is believed to contain anti-bacterial properties. Although I have never used the gel as an animal laxative, I know other horse owners who poured the gel into an animal’s mouth after a suspected poisoning. A veterinarian could recommend the appropriate dosage to use when flushing the system of livestock in the case of poisoning.
If a rabbit becomes afflicted with hairballs it cannot expel naturally, serious health issues or death could result. Dry oats are comprised of a type of fiber which is believed to help to decrease hair collection and the resulting blockage. My rabbit keeper pals routinely give the animals a cup of dry uncooked oats before they begin shedding in the early spring as a preventative measure.
Dehydration from diarrhea can take place in animals just as it does in humans. The underlying cause of the diarrhea may take some time to determine, but helping the animal regain normal bowel functions is an immediate priority. A few cups of blackberry juice or chamomile tea can help stop diarrhea fairly quickly. A diarrhea remedy which I have seen successfully used with small to medium sized livestock is comprised of potassium. Mix together one quart of warm water and potassium permanganate and give small livestock such as a chicken or rabbit. Do not store in a metal container.
Rain rot is a skin condition which afflicts livestock that has spent time in both the rain and humid weather. The animal can develop a bacterial infection if rain rot goes untreated. Mix together equal parts of baby oil and peroxide and use a sponge to gently apply onto the afflicted area. Some homesteading friends have also had success suing mouthwash in place of the peroxide. While I use mouthwash routinely in many home remedies, it does contain alcohol and may cause drying to occur in the already sore skin of horse or cow with rain rot.
To help prevent worms from growing inside the barnyard critters which provide eggs and help keep the bug population low, toss a cup of finely chopped garlic or onions into their pen once a week. To prevent roundworm, mix together about a tablespoon of tobacco and steep it in water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the mixture down the chicken’s throat. Keep the bird’s head up and cover its nostrils for five seconds. Then, hold the chicken by its feet so it can cough up the roundworm. If you see a chicken appear as if it is yawning frequently, it may have the common roundworm problem known as Gapes.