5 Farm Animal Health Concerns To Look Out For On Your Hobby Farm
Farm animals are assets to quality nutrition as well as economic development. However, sustainable farm animal production is, at times, presented with some challenges. Diseases, parasites, and critter infestations result in low levels of productivity, economic losses, and death to our farm animals. It’s important to know the farm animal health concerns to look out for, so you can immediately treat (and hopefully prevent!) injuries and illnesses at your hobby farm.
To create a farm environment conducive to clean and healthy productions, we first need to take preventative measures to keep our animals from contracting and spreading illnesses. Many farmers know their animals and typically will notice changes in their behavior. But they may also get missed, so it is vital to watch out for these specific health concerns within your farm animals.
There are two types of diseases on farms, according to the HFHA (Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture). They are either contagious, meaning you will want to separate the infected animals as soon as you become aware of the situation, or non-contagious, meaning the infected animal will not transmit to the others on the farm. Highly contagious diseases are much more severe in traveling quickly and spreading from animal to animal, sometimes causing many problems or high mortality.
You should observe your animals daily to assess their overall health. Monitoring and evaluating them can be challenging to do every day, especially if you own many animals on your farm. Hiring help may be possible, or if not, you should create a system. Utilizing a simple notebook to collect information, along with photographs, can help you stay on top of your animals’ health.
Checklists help conduct these types of observations. It would help to consult a veterinarian on what parts of each animal you should be checking and how often, and then create your checklist that way. Observing and conducting analysis are essential tools to make your farm safe and stay on top of your animals’ well-being.
If you are unsure what you should include within these observations, here are some questions that you can ask to help you get started:
Below are some specific indicators that you can look out for you at your farm to ensure that your animals are safe from illness.
Because we cannot see issues with the digestive tract, it is not always easy to tell when there might be some gastrointestinal disease. Most of the time, the main symptoms of this type of illness will include lack of appetite, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Goats and horses sometimes show intestinal issues with food coming out of their nose or mouth. Chickens will sometimes exhibit a swollen crop or abdomen. If you see any of these signs within your farm animals, you should first remove the animal from the others and contact your veterinarian.
Lung and respiratory disease may be a little bit easier to spot in the animals. Signs of this type of illness include coughing, nasal discharge, and issues with breathing. Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing are both indications that there is a respiratory issue.
The chicken will sometimes have more labored breathing, where it sounds as if they are gasping. It can be challenging to distinguish heavy breathing from the animal getting exercise, so make sure if you notice it that you pay close attention if it is out of exhaustion or if something more is going on with your animals.
Diseases of the skin will be the most straightforward symptoms to spot since you will be able to see them. It can be challenging for animals with furs, such as rabbits, goats, and horses, to tell if there is a skin condition. Owning these animals on your farm should require a skin check every so often.
Pigs may demonstrate blisters around their nose and feet, and goats may have blisters there as well as inside their mouths. Rabbits under veterinary care by Bond Vet have displayed areas of “hair loss in their furs, which indicate excessive itching and scratching.” The loss of fur could be due to a pest bite of some kind, or it could mean a more severe condition “such as a hormonal imbalance or a digestive issue.”
Chickens will show other skin disease symptoms, such as a discolored comb, legs, and head. They also might have very dark or very scaly, scabby spots on their comb.
Neurological issues are one of the scariest and most challenging problems to happen with farm animals. These vary greatly depending on the type of animal. However, many of them will demonstrate signs including lack of coordination or difficulty walking, the inability to rise quickly, and noticeable behavioral changes.
Pigs may have excessive drool, or you might see them paddling while lying on their side. Horses sometimes will suddenly lose their vision or experience a lot of twitches. Chickens show twisted necks or paralysis in their limbs. Goats will sometimes bite at their feet and will tilt or press their heads. Rabbits will become more withdrawn or vocalizing abnormally.
It is not always easy to diagnose where the issue lies, but it is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a potential illness. General lack of energy or lethargy, high fever, inflammation or swelling in joints, or drainage or watery discharge coming from the eyes can indicate potential farm animal health concerns.
It is crucial to keep farming alive, and our animals are the most significant contributors to doing that. When an animal becomes unhealthy, it is in our best interest to treat and monitor the animal as quickly as possible. As farmers, we tend to know the typical behaviors and actions that our animals engage in, and any deviation from that should require us to pay closer attention.