Winter for me, is a time to be able to slow down a little and do one of my favorite activities, studying. Today my search takes me down the trail of how to naturally keep parasite activity to a minimum in my animals. Fortunately, we don't have a problem here, but preventative measures I am sure has helped with that. The reality is, if you have animals, then you probably have a certain parasitic load around. In generations past, it was also common to treat "man and beast" every spring and fall. Somewhere along the line we have lost that knowledge, but they are still all around us. Parasites can cause so many ailments and are just commonly overlooked as symptoms. There is no place that doesn't have them, so learning how to keep them in check is key. Notice I said "check", the truth is we will never be without them so the idea is to learn how to manage and use them to keep your immune system strong enough that they cannot harm you. I want to preface this blog that I am not a doctor or a veterinary, I am only sharing my search of information and what I am doing. Do your own search and what is right for you and your situation.
In today's world the answer is to give them a dewormer regularly, but is that what is best? I am not a big proponent of using commercial deworming medications on a regular basis as the first level of defense. As with antibiotics, overuse of dewormers can lead to resistance and not work at all. You want something that is going to work especially in a time of severe need. In my search for information, it is best to be preventative and only as a last resort turn to commercial deworming products. There are many natural alternatives or even products out there that can be used, but how effective are they and how much money do you spend finding out? Up until now, my philosophy is to be proactive, so I don't have to be reactive. I randomly give my goats black walnut leaves a couple of times a summer which is high in tannins and is known to be antiparasitic. When I can I feed foods that are also antiparasitic like pumpkin seeds and pine branches. I always try to feed up off the ground so when they go out in the morning, they always have hay in their feeders. Parasites live on and in ground. During the wet dewy mornings, they climb up the plant matter to avoid the wet. This makes it riskier for grazing animals to eat them, which then keeps a cycle going of infestation. By feeding them dry hay up off the ground it ensures me that they will be eating from their feeder and not grazing until after the grass has dried. Parasites are also more prone to be plentiful during a wet season vs a dry one. It is always good to keep watch and look for factors which can determine when you may need to support your animals with prevention.
It is always my goal to be as self-sufficient as possible, either by having something needed on hand or having the knowledge to know how to solve an arising problem. I like to challenge myself that if an emergency was to happen and I couldn't go buy it, how I can be prepared. This brings me to one of last year's experiments in the garden... growing tobacco. I had a couple reasons for why I would want to see if I could even grow this here where I live, but the main one was using the tobacco leaves for a natural dewormer. This was a success, and I was able to grow and harvest some leaves to be able to use. In the articles I found they said that using snuff or a chewing tobacco as natural as possible, meaning no additives or preservatives should be used. This was my main reason for wanting to grow my own, I then would know how it was grown and how it was processed. Mine is 100% natural and I feel good about using it. In my search I have found that it is used on most all animals but can be toxic in large amounts so to make sure you do your own search with dosage. I was able to find some information that stated in dogs to use 1/2 teaspoon of ground tobacco per 10 lbs. of body weight is the general rule – However, if you’ve got a bigger-sized and larger breed, then you should deworm with 2-3 teaspoons of tobacco. You would just grind it and sprinkle it over their food for 1 serving, then wait and watch. Most stated that within an hour they would have a bowel movement and could see their results. This would not need to be done only a couple times a year or if you noticed a change that would indicate parasites. Many also stated that they have used this not only on goats, but most of the farm livestock.
My next find, I have to admit surprised me... I stumbled upon it when looking for information on tobacco and how to use. So here is what I found, in story form. There is a natural product company that has been around since the 1960's called Shaklee. "Basic-H was one of the first environmentally safe household cleaners, the number one choice for safety. Scientifically formulated with natural ingredients, Basic-H is nonflammable and contains no ammonia, acids, alkalis, solvents, phosphates, chlorine, nitrates, or borates. That means Basic-H is safe to use around children, pets, and plants. Because it’s biodegradable and nonpolluting, Basic-H is also safe to use on cars and patios in areas where gutter run off goes straight to waterways." I am very familiar with it as my mom was a consultant for them all while we were growing up. The main product we grew up with was called basic-H. My mom used it for everything! It is marketed as a multipurpose cleaner but is gentle enough to be used as a body product with the same PH as our skin. It was used in our baths, for shampoo, dishes and even for rashes including diaper rash. Farmers like to use it on their fields and crops because it helps with growth and building lush green crops. Like most things though they made a new "improved" version and it isn't as well liked by the original users, this one is called Basic H2. Joel Salatin is a farmer "well known in the natural farming community." He practices natural farming techniques and teaches many his methods. In his book salad bar, he talks about using basic h as a natural dewormer. Here is how it works; Basic H is a soap which contains a surfactant. Surfactants attach to and dissolve oils. Parasites have a protective coating made up of oils, so the surfactant dissolves this coating. As the coating is broken down the digestive acids can now do its job and attack and kill the parasite and eggs. So basically, any soap would work, but this one is used because it is naturally derived. Intertwined in all this information I ran into a neat story. Someone told how their grandmother used to give her dishwater to the animals every night to drink. This was because they wasted nothing, and the little bits of food would also feed the animals as they drank it. Isn't it interesting that because it contained dish soap... which was just a lye soap, she was also inadvertently preventing parasites. Our previous generations were so intuitive and wise!
Here is what I found for dosages.
Dogs – Apply 2 drops H for every ten pounds of the dog’s weight on their feed for one week. Repeat this application every 3 months. You may put it in a spray bottle with a little water and spray it over the dog’s food. You can also add a drop or two to the water.
Bovine- mix 5 gallons of water add 1 Tablespoon, 50 gallons of water add 10 Tablespoons and a 100-gallon tank of water would be mixed with 1 1/4 cups of Basic-H. You want them to have this for 2 full days, so you need to make sure they have no other main water source. Repeat this every month.
Goats- they have a faster metabolism so you would want them to have the same rate of mix, but have it for7 days, then off for 24, repeating it monthly.
I found many testimonies of using this method with many barnyard livestock and poultry all with great results.
Here is the hard part.... It can only be purchased in 5 gallon or 55 gallon amounts. The 5 gallon will last a REALLY long time but is about $225. I figured though that 1 vet visit and medication for a sick animal is a worthy and wise investment. Try to find another who may also be interested and split or divide the cost with multiple people!