Resources for Sheep & Goat Owners
At Three Charm Farm, we specialize in supporting first time owners before and after they purchase from us. We want both you and your new animals to be happy together, so we have created this list of resources to help you care for your new animals. As always, you are also welcome to contact us with questions – we help if we can!
Note: These are the guidelines, resources, and products that we use at the farm. We are in no way suggesting that these are the best or only way to go! These helpful hints are based on our experience. We also hope that you will share your experience and resources with us as you raise your animals!
Important Information for New Owners
- Essentials: In addition to food (grain AND hay), shelter, water, and fencing, at a minimum you should have the following on hand: a Beginner Book (see below), a digital thermometer, gatorade, activated charcoal/Pepto Bismol, herbal dewormer, and minerals. We also highly recommend setting up a relationship with a veterinarian. Most will not see a sick animal unless it is already a patient.
- Feed: We feed a combination of Sheep Pellets or Goat Pellets, ‘All Stock’ Pouli n Sweet Feed, and sometimes beet pulp. We provide loose minerals (species specific), kelp, and add zinc to our minerals as we appear to be more deficient than most. We also give BoSe shots twice per year. This is a prescription from the vet that provides the proper selenium for both sheep and goats. (Copper CAN BE toxic to sheep, so it’s important to get this right.)We feed the highest quality hay we can find – a combination of first and second cut.
- Scouring: If your goat kid or lamb starts to scour (have diarrhea), address it immediately. I usually give 2-3 ml of Pepto (burnt toast or free choice wood ash from your wood stove). If it doesn’t clear up within 24 hours, chances are it's a parasite problem and MUST be addressed. In recent years we have fed all kids and lambs medicated feed to prevent coccidia. Medicated does NOT mean antibiotics! Getting a fecal analysis is ALWAYS the best bet, as different parasites are treated with different medicines. We use a herbal dewormer and rarely need to do the CORID Drench anymore but we still keep it on hand. Keeping feed and water buckets super clean, employing rotational grazing, and making sure your animals have the right minerals on board will keep their immune systems strong and able to fight off many parasite overloads.
- Sheep and goats thrive on routine and do not appreciate change! If they are not eating or are chewing their cud for 18 hours, something is WRONG. Before you call the vet, take their temperature! It’s always the first thing they will ask. (Leave your animal's temperature with their message service because they probably won’t answer.)
- Vaccines and Microchips: We will vaccinate lambs and kids for CD&T upon request at no charge. All kids will be disbudded (unless they are born naturally polled), no exceptions. We do not guarantee that scurs will not develop, particularly on males. Our sheep are naturally polled, though some have occasionally developed scurs. We do not vaccinate our sheep and goats.
- Body Temperature: If your new lamb or kid is huddled up, shivering, and not wanting to eat or drink, TAKE THEIR TEMPERATURE ASAP. It should be 102–103°… If it’s less, they have hypothermia and need to be warmed up. If it’s higher than 103, it’s an infection – call your vet. Babies must have a minimum body temperature of 101°F to metabolize milk and food.
- Bedding in Stalls (pine shavings and/or straw): From fall through kidding/lambing season, we use the deep bedding method – it is considered the most economical, environmentally sustainable, warmest in winter, and overall best method. Prior to winter, we vacuum all of the barn cobwebs (they are dust catchers in the winter) and do a really deep clean before establishing the winter bedding. In spring, we deep clean again and work hard to keep the barn completely clean for the respiratory health of babies and the udder health of mamas.
- NEVER heat the barn!! When the cold weather comes, goats and sheep need to have a space out of the weather and wind, dry feet, and someone to snuggle with. It is normal for them to shiver at the start of winter – they are acclimating. As long as they continue to eat, drink, chew their cud, pee, and poop, all is well. When in doubt, take their temperature!
- Considerations for Males: Unless they are castrated/banded, both little rams and bucklings can impregnate at just 90 days +/-!!! Ewe lambs and doelings should be around 9 months and/or 70% of their predicted adult weight before breeding. Breeding males will likely 'spar' with each other (especially if a female within a mile comes into heat), but if they start really fighting, they will need to be separated because they could end up getting hurt or losing confidence. If you are raising your goats as pets, they will require very little grain, except possibly in winter. Males can get urinary tract infections if their diet is out of balance and too high in grain - it is always a case of Ca:P imbalance. To ensure the right balance, you can buy specifically formulated grain for males.
Essential Books for Beginners
Located at Tractor Supply stores or online, these Storey Guides are great general reference books that I keep on hand at the farm.
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep by Carol Ekarius and Paula Simmons
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Jerome Belanger and Sara Thomson Bredesen
Other Books That We Use
- Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Baïracli Levy. First published in 1952, this book is a classic in its field – old but still applicable and fascinating.
- Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell. I love this book. The author is also a famous cheesemaker and has written excellent books on that topic as well!
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Clinical and loaded with medical terminology, but can also be very helpful.
Information & Supply Websites
- Fias Co Farm: I use this site all the time for helpful information, pictures, and 'how-to' help. The owner of Fias Co Farm, Molly Nolte, is also the owner of Molly’s Herbals.
- Molly’s Herbals: I recommend getting their 2-part herbal deworming product and starting ASAP.
- Hoegger Supply Company: Hoegger has a great website as far as products, information, and resources but they have less than stellar customer service – almost every order is messed up when I try to order.
There are lots of super helpful Facebook groups for sheep and goat owners! Here are just a few:
- Homestead Dairy Sheep
- Katahdin Sheep Breeders
- Successful Goating with Rosie
- Mini Nubian Goat Breeders
Resources & Partners
- American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA)
- Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA)
- Maine Cheese Guild
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Sheep and Goats
- Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)
- USDA & NRCS: United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Maine Farmland Trust (MFT)
- New England Cheesemaking Supply Company
- Maine Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
- University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension
- Washington University Animal Diagnostic Laboratory: Biosecurity Testing
- Hamby Dairy Supply: Milking systems and more
- Sydell: Sheep & goat handling equipment
- Premier1: Sheep & goat equipment/fencing
- MicroDairy Designs: For small commercial cheese kitchens
- Maine Small Business Development Center
- Long Horn Horse & Pet Supply
- Ken’s Custom Meat Processing: (207) 282-9078
- Curio Museum Design: They made our awesome website!
- Carroll Family Farm: Eggs, lamb, beef, and more!
Veterinarians that we use
- North East Farm & Family Mobile Veterinary Service: Dr. Taryn Pearson, (207) 206-5521 (Our current vet)
- Branch Equine Veterinary Services: Dr. Nicole Mailot, (207) 251-4709
- Cara Shepard, DVM: (207) 636-7505