It's cold again and I'm off to curl up with a couple of books from the library on the subject of natural goat care. Can you believe we were back in coats in June? Thankfully it didn't freeze - only 39 degrees last night and tonight!
The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, I and could hardly stop reading long enough to get up and actually go milk the goats! First and foremost, her book seems to be filled with a lot of wonderful common sense along with her experiences from lots and lots of observation and experimentation. Second, I was tickled pink that despite first being written in 1957, I already have a large amount of the plants and herbs she calls for in her preparations. And third, her book addresses poultry, bees, and sheep-dogs along with a few other animals that I currently do not own. I'm hoping to glean some things from all three categories for my own farm.
Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby, came highly recommended. When I did some further investigation, it seems like Coleby is widely read and often referred to for natural methodologies with caprines.
While this second book has a chapter on herbal remedies, it's much broader, delving into all areas of caring for a goat naturally... from housing to management and everything in between. And I do mean everything! This hefty paperback has over 350 pages with black and white photos, sketches, and diagrams. It should be an excellent addition to the farm library even if I don't agree with every practice Coleby recommends. And I'm hoping it saves me a lot of time searching on the internet! This book was written in 2001, so it's fairly current.
Finally, another great source I've found for natural goat care is Molly Nolte's Fias Co Farm site. Molly has obviously spent hours upon hours compiling a lot of wonderful information for her readers, along with plans for milking stands, herbal preparations (which she sells at Molly's Herbals), and links with all kinds of information. I can't recommend her site enough! Thanks, Molly, for helping us all out on our goat adventures!
One thing I've definitely learned over the last two years... goat owners have definite opinions on raising their herds and those opinions can differ considerably! And just like doctors, vets can have varying opinions - often backed up by research that seems to contradict the other. The only thing one can do is read, study, practice, and observe. Over time, herd management will yield to that which has proven itself over and over again in the barn... or field... or wherever.
UPDATE 6/7/12: Thanks to Homestead Revival Reader Theresa who commented on a couple of excellent resources that should be added to this list. Fir Meadow also sells herbal products for dairy goats and has a wealth of information on their site as well as in Katherine Drovdahl's book, "The Accessible Pet, Equine and Livestock Herbal". I have not read this book, but given the popularity of her site, I'm sure the book is a good read.
The second resource she mentioned was a Yahoo group for those interested in an ongoing dialog for natural goat practices: Totally Natural Goats. You will need to request membership via the link I've provided.
If you've had experience with either of these books, please share your observations, pros and cons.