Tuesday 17th August 2021
Derinda Blakeney, APR | University of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Old McDonald actually had a farm and what made his farm so fun for us?
Kids, and maybe now that we’re singing it with the kids in our lives, that was all
different animals that he had. Multi-species farming is common in Oklahoma, and they are
Bring joy as the song suggests. There are some considerations, though
several animal species are housed in the immediate vicinity. Certain medications,
Feeds and feed additives that are beneficial to a species’ health can indeed
harm other species.
Here are the five biggest dangers on a multi-species farm:
- copper is an important trace element. It is used by all animals for a variety of important
biological processes. The amount of copper that livestock species require varies widely.
Sheep are by far the most sensitive livestock species to copper. While sheep need
a small amount of copper in their diet that provides them with almost any food that is not
labeled for sheep is potentially dangerous. Goats are a little more tolerant of copper
than sheep and need a little more in their diet, but we see copper toxicity in
goats too. In general, feeds for pigs and poultry are the most dangerous, followed
through horse feed and cattle feed. Only feed food that has a picture of your animal
do not allow other species to access this food.
Remember that everything that is eaten shows up in the feces. So, the crap of this higher one
Copper-tolerant species are also rich in copper. I once consulted several people in one case
Sheep die-off on a farm adjacent to a pig farm. The sheep were in a
Pasture below the pigsty and there was drainage to the sheep pasture. The grass
along the fence between the two was lush from all the manure and the sheep
would graze that fence line and die of copper poisoning.
Feeds are not the only sources of copper on a farm. Loosen and block trace elements,
injectable trace elements, copper boluses, algicides (copper sulfate),
and other agricultural chemicals can also contain copper and be toxic.
- Ionophores are a class of feed additives that promote growth and help control coccidia
in ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats. The ionophores include such drugs as
Monensin (Rumensin) and Lasalocid (Bovatec). Their usefulness ends with the ruminants,
however, as they are fatal to horses. There are many stories of horses that were accidentally made
fed or retracted and consumed cattle feed containing ionophore. The ionophores
cause acute heart failure. Even traces of these drugs can be fatal, with some reports
of horse deaths from feed factories that mix horse feed after cattle is fed
the same blender without cleaning it sufficiently.
- Grain, maize in particular, is used in the feeding of all types of farm animals, so how can they?
be problematic on a multi-mode operation? Let’s talk about the digestibility of grain,
using corn as an example. Maize comes to us for feeding in different forms: whole
Corn, steam flaked, rolled, cracked, ground, etc. The less processing there is
to corn, the less digestible it is. You know this because you often see whole kernels
of corn in manure from animals on whole corn diets. With increasing processing,
However, more starch of the corn is exposed, making it more digestible, however
also potentially more dangerous. With increasing processing and exposure to starch, the
the risk of cereal overload or rumen acidosis increases. So whole grains are much less likely
lead to grain overload and rumen over-acidification than much finer ground maize in poultry
or pig feed, for example. If an ox broke into a box of whole corn, it could
get severe abdominal pain that needs treatment, but when it breaks into chicken or pork
Feeding corn, it could quickly puff and die due to the extra processing.
I recently saw one of the worst cases of rumen acidosis I have ever seen in a loved one
Pet a goat because it broke into the feeding area and ate a large number of waterfowl
feed. She came to us unconscious on Christmas morning and had to be hospitalized for a week
to recover. The fine corn grinding used in poultry and wild bird feed is extremely dangerous
to cattle, sheep and goats.
- alfalfa is an important protein-rich feed on many farms that is fed to a large number of species. While
It is safe for most of our common domestic animals, animals that should never be
Alfalfa are exposed to male sheep and goats, especially if they are pets or miniatures
Breeds like Nigerian Dwarf or Pygmy. Male sheep and goats are at high risk for
Bladder stones, which can become lodged in the urethra and cause the urethra to rupture
or bladder and kidney failure. Bladder stones can also develop in these males
Also eat a high-grain diet, but the stones made from an alfalfa-based diet are
by far the hardest to deal with. When you feed horses with grain and alfalfa
or cattle, it is best to keep male sheep and goats away from these feeding grounds.
- Avermectin Class de-wormer includes the products that contain ivermectin (Ivomec and generics),
Doramectin (Dectomax), Moxidectin (Cydectin) and Eprinomectin (Eprinex, LongRange).
Many brands of horse paste de-wormer contain an avermectin de-wormer
– Be sure to read the labels. Farm dogs are the problem here. How do you know if you are
Giving a horse a de-wormer, especially an oral paste, some will act on the
Floor. In addition, the active ingredient is excreted in the faeces and is present in the manure
in the pasture. Some breeds of dogs, especially white-footed herding dog breeds, are very
sensitive to ivermectin and should never be exposed to these drugs as they
Damage to the nervous system and be fatal. Most of the fatal farm dog exposures come from
Deworming agents that fall on the floor during administration or when consumed
Dung from a treated animal, as the drugs are excreted in the faeces.
Here are some safety tips for caring for multiple species:
- Keep each feed in a container with a secure lid in a safe room. Make sure the
is clearly marked with the species for which the feed is made.
- Separate species at feeding time to deter other species from sneaking or plucking forage
forage falling on the ground.
- Keep feed containing ionophore in a completely separate area from horse feed.
- Review health and safety concerns with ranch help and ranch sitters so they are aware
of dangers. Provide clear, written feeding instructions, including accurate ones
how much to feed.
- Keep the stables picked and cleared of manure.
- Always read the label of any supplements or medication you plan to use. Never use
a veterinary medicine that is not on the label unless directed to do so by your veterinarian.
About the author: Meredyth Jones, DVM, MS, DACVIM, is an Associate Professor of Food
Veterinary medicine and surgery from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University.
A diplomat from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Large Animal),
She also owns Large Animal Consulting & Education.
Veterinary Viewpoints is offered by the Faculty of OSU Veterinary Medicine
Hospital. Certified by the American Animal Hospital Association, the hospital is open
to the public providing routine and specialized care for all types and 24 hour emergencies
Care, 365 days a year. Call 405-744-7000 for an appointment or more information.
OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of 32 accredited veterinary colleges in the United States and is the only veterinary medicine
College in Oklahoma. The college’s Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital is open to the public and provides routine and specialized care for both small and large
Animals. The hospital offers 24-hour emergency care and is American certified
Association of Veterinary Clinics. For more information, visit https://vetmed.okstate.edu or call 405-744-7000.
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