Article Index "Helping Our Goats To Optimum Health (Part 4)" Article Index

Amber Waves Pygmy Goats
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By: "Linda Carlson"
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Again, I want to make clear that I am not a Doctor or Veterinarian. Nor is the following information intended to replace professional Veterinarian care. I am sharing information I have learned through experience, study and reading. Some parts of this article are my personal opinions, while others are facts and ideas that come from books and studies that I have read.

The topic of herbs (also called food supplements or dietary supplements) is far more controversial than that of vitamins and minerals. The information available is hugh and never ending. Even so, I find the world of herbs to be most fascinating and one I have really enjoyed learning about. I have spent a bit more than 10 years studying and learning about herbs and their uses. I have also spent that same amount of time using them for my animals and myself. I have seen powerful benefits from herbs for people and their animals. I have cured ailments I have had in the past, including one that Doctor's wanted to operate on with herbs. I have also found herbs to give my animalsí immune system a tremendous boost. I continue to learn about and see benefits from herbs and this is what keeps my interest so strong.

You can find one source listing particular herbs for this or that problem and another source may have a totally different list for the same problem. This is not always as confusing as it sounds because there are, often several herbs that work well for the same problem. Your simply getting that persons views. Those views are usually based on what they have tried and found to work well for them and/or others.

So, what do herbs have to do with a healthy animal? They can have a great deal to do with it if used correctly. Many people try them with no knowledge at all and wonder why they did not see any results. I hear about it. Often times telling me they tried some herbs and it did not help. I always ask what they used and how much they used. The two main reasons for failure are - #1. Not using the right herb (s). #2. Not using enough.

Forms of Herbs:
There are a few different forms of herbs available for sale and/or treatment.

Whole bulk herbs: This is where the herbs have been grown, cut and packaged. They are in whole form. I have seen these being sold for the intended use of feeding them directly to animals, either for prevention of illness or for the cure of illness. Personally this makes no sense at all to me. Consider a 450-mg. capsule of Echinacea root (for example). Can you imagine how many Echinacea roots you would have to grind down into powder form to make a 450-mg. capsule? Visualize it if you will. So how many Echinacea plants would your animal have to eat the roots from to equal that one capsule? Come on - itís ridiculous to think that your animal will eat enough of any whole herb to do them much if any good. Even if one or two would possibly eat that many whole herb plants, would they all? Absolutely not. This holds true for most of the whole herb plants available.

Now I am not saying animals won't eat herb plants. They will. Especially if they are alive and growing where they have access to them. But throw a pound of cut, dead Chamomile in their feeder and see what happens.

Tinctures: (liquid form). Tinctures have become popular, especially for pets as they are a liquid form and easy to administer. If you consider tinctures please do your homework. Find out "exactly" what is in the tinctures being offered. Many have a lot of water in them and often they have alcohol as well. Some are cooked down to make the strong liquid. As with anything cooked, a lot of the nutrients are lost. I suggest comparing prices of tinctures to other methods available.

Powders: Powder forms come in bulk, in a tablet or in capsules. If they come in tablet form they have to be crushed into powder before they can be used beneficially for animals. Capsules can simply be emptied out and there's your powder. Bulk is fine if you can get some knowledge about where it comes from, how its grown and, at the very least, an approximate measure per serving.

I prefer to use powder forms mostly because I have a better idea of exact dosages. They are easy to use and the cost is reasonable. Tablets are not all that hard to work with. You know the exact dosage in each one, and I have found that you can put them in a blender and turn them to powder in a matter of seconds. Capsules are the best way as they are already powder and you know the exact dosage in each capsule.

If treating a herd rather than one or two - bulk powders can be very cost effective. But, itís wise to question the distributor on approximate dosage per serving.

So what is a serving when dealing with bulk powder? A quick way to find out is measure a capsule. Example: A 450-mg. capsule of Echinacea root will equal a level 1/4 tsp. The question to the seller is: How many mg's of your Echinacea root powder is in 1/4 tsp. Generally it should be near or at the same mg's as the capsule.

When is bulk best? It can be more cost effective when treating many animals instead of a few. And, there are many herbs that can be added to our animals feed that really do not need specific measurements. At least, not if you have some knowledge of using herbs in the first place. When treating my herd of 22 goats there are some herbs I am very adamant about measuring dosage and others that I simply throw some in. But I don't suggest this for the layman. A lot depends on the herb being used and what it is being used for.

What brands are best? Wow this is a big question. There are hundreds of thousands of brands of herbs out there so "do your homework".

Here are some basic guidelines that I use. I look for a company that has been in the business for a long time. I check them out and learn all I can about that company. Do they have high standards for using quality herbs? I like to know they are harvested from the finest crops, are freshly milled and encapsulated to the most exacting standards of potency, purity and efficiency. I also want to be sure they are without additions of sugar, starch, salt, preservatives, fillers or binders. Personally I choose to buy my herbs directly from the company rather than off a store shelf. I feel more confident that what I am getting is fresh and not outdated.

Price is also a consideration and there is a hugh spread in pricing. The best is not always the most expensive. How the brand is sold can have a hugh impact on the price. Many companies sell their products through distributors. Meaning: They, often, work like an MLM where one distributor recruits more and on down the line. This is important to know because in selling by this method, it only stands to reason that prices go up because there are so many fingers in the pie. Some others allow distributors to sell and simply get a discount from every order. Thus the pricing can be much more reasonable. Itís not hard to find an excellent product for a reasonable price.

The biggest problem I see when people are considering price is that they don't always consider what is in the bottle along with it. Example: You go to the store and look at bottles of Gingko Biloba. You may find one for $10.95 and another for $4.95. We think - wow - what a savings with the $4.95 bottle. Look closer. How many capsules are in the bottle?? How many MG's per capsule? Suddenly the difference in price becomes clear. The more expensive bottle has 100 capsules, with 385 mg's per capsule. The $4.95 bottle has 90 tablets with 60 mg's each. You would need to use about 4 and 1/2 capsules from the cheap bottle to equal 1 capsule from the more expensive bottle.

Label reading is important. And the label should also state the ingredients. Gingko Biloba Leaf, 385 mg (powder) and nothing else should be listed other than gelatin (capsule shell). The bottle should also state that there are no additions of sugar, starch, salt, preservatives, fillers, binders etc! The brand I use goes even further in stating on the bottle. "Contains freshly-milled herb powder from the world's finest crops."

What herbs do we need and how much should we use, for our animals? Again, these are questions that can lead to many different answers. Many people will use the "people" recommendations on the bottle. I can tell you one thing about this. Herbal companies are very cautious with dosage recommendations due to the constant battle they have on their hands. Bottle recommendations on many herbs are far to low in my opinion. My opinion is not unfounded as it's shared by many Nutritionalists, herbalists, scientists, and even Doctors and Veterinarians.

After a few years of learning all I could and adding other herbs/vitamins/minerals to my daily diet it was obvious to me the tremendous benefits from these natural sources and it also became obvious that they worked just as well on animals. If youíre interested in learning more and using herb supplements, my advice is to seek out a knowledgeable person in the field of herbal use.

About the author: Linda Carlson has owned and raised a variety of livestock and pets for more than 35 years. At this time she raises a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats along with her husband, on a small farm in central Montana.

She has dedicated much of her time over the last 10 years to learning about natural nutrients and alternatives. Specifically, the benefits of natural nutrients for optimum health for people and animals. She enjoys sharing what she has learned with others through conversations, writing and on her website "Natures Power". She shares her information based on personal experience, experiences of others, books and studies done on the topics of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. You can find out more by visiting her website at

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