With lambing season just around the corner, we are getting our checklists checked and ready to go. So I am reading and reading everything I can on lambing (for the 15th time). It's funny you start to recognize sheep farms online the minute you begin reading an article. You just know you've read it before, probably printed it and hole punched it and slipped it into your "sheep" binder. But still, you read it again, on the off chance there was something you missed, and just because your pushover for anything about your fluffy Icelandic sheep!
But every once in a while you run into something new, something so cool that you just can't wait to try it and you sure can't wait to share what you've just found. Now I know most of you have heard about the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in humans, and maybe even some have heard of the benefits of it on sheep but I didn't know to what extent.
My first experience with ACV was last fall after our sheep were delivered. We'd had them about 6 weeks and we ran into obvious parasite troubles. Being new to the sheep thing I was doing what I could but it wasn't helping. Their eye membranes were pale, runny poop, all the signs were there. The vet couldn't get out to us for a few days to take a stool sample so I gave them Safeguard (a dewormer) on there recommendation.
As luck would have it, Margaret Flowers from Trinity Farms was delivering a Shetland wether to us and I asked her opinion. That my friends was a loaded question. When she saw their eyes she said rather alarmed "you've got a severe barpol parasite situation here and Safeguard won't begin to touch it"!
The following are the ingredients for the ACV Drench Margaret recommended. I don't have the exact recipe right now (its in the "sheep" binder).
Apple Cider Vinegar
Garlic Powder (a generous amount...don't be shy)
In two days time their eyes were pink and fresh and the runs were a thing of the past! I did give them a dose of Ivermectin three days later for good measure. But truly I think the quick treatment with the ACV had alot to do with their speedy recovery.
Now there are many varied opinions on whether the vinegar should be " or pasteurized and some say it is not necessary, while others say any ol' brand will do. I for one used Heinz brand and like I said, it worked like a charm!
Some shepherds have reported that once they began a routine of administering the ACV to their flocks in their drinking water beginning at three weeks before lambing who had previous problematic births, the problems all but disappeared. And others swear that their fleeces have improved by repeated use of the ACV. One thing most agree on is that alone or combined with garlic and other ingredients, it can act as a natural antibiotic and barrier to diseases.
Every flock is different as are the shepherds, but as the saying goes, everything in moderation. I for one will be trying this ACV beginning at three weeks before lambing at a rate of 3-4 ml per week per head and see how it goes. I will also use it as the first line of defense in future parasite situations especially during the hot months.
Hope this tidbit of information helps. We are always on the look out for anything that can help us better care for our wonderful breed of sheep. Remember, do your own research and make your own determination if ACV is something you would like to use with your flock.