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Livestock & Pets

This section of the website holds articles on everything you need to know about keeping pets and livestock. Choose from the menu on the left to browse our articles.

Understand how and why livestock teeth work the way they do, how to age animals by their teeth and why they have such big jaws.

In New Zealand, pasture growth can happen rapidly after only a few days of sun, following what seems like endless weeks of cold and wet weather. While this fresh green grass is highly appealing for them, there are certain components in spring pastures that can contribute to a variety of problems for grazing horses.

The Arapawa goat is a small, light-framed, dual-purpose goat.

At this time of the year exit drenching is the term that we need to be thinking about the most. The idea behind exit drenching is that animals which were treated with a long-acting drench prior to lambing are likely to be approaching the end of the payout period of that product.

Miniature Zebu cattle are very easy care, they are foragers, pretty much eating anything and can do very well on rough pasture and extra well on lush pasture.

The specific nutritional needs of the broodmare and growing horse are constantly changing and it is important to alter feeding programmes according to the different stages.

The kunekune is unique to NZ. It means ‘fat and round’ in Te Reo Māori. It is smaller than other breeds, although an overweight Kunekune can still be quite a large pig.

Maintaining optimum equine health is the number one priority of horse owners and feeding plays a crucial role in achieving this. Below are descriptions of some of the most common conditions horses in New Zealand are susceptible too, and tips on how to prevent them through nutrition.

Gotlands are born with jet black, silken coats (prized generations ago for fur coats) and change colour as they age. Their faces and legs are black with no wool – barrels on tooth picks.

The Guanaco wild member and cousin to the Llama and Alpaca family, originating from the southern South American region, Patagonia, as well as Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

If you are thinking of getting goats, then you need to be well prepared.

Management of parasites is an essential component to maintaining overall horse health, and often goes hand in hand with providing optimum nutrition.

Sheep with naturally coloured wool are found occasionally in most breeds.  There are two colour ranges from black to pale grey, and from brown to pale cream.

The most common digestive problems seen in equines are gastric ulcers which mainly occur in the stomach, and hindgut acidosis which can affect the large intestine, caecum and colon.

Salers have been selected to perform as providers of milk and meat under tough conditions cold winters and sometimes hot, dry summers.

The Piedmontese cattle dominate beef production in Italy and the Netherlands due to its lean-ness and tenderness but has yet to catch on as a quality terminal sire breed in New Zealand.

Alpacas are superb animals to farm as they are intelligent, easy to handle and very hardy.

If you have cattle, sheep or goats on your lifestyle block then you have some ruminant animals on your hands.

Horses have evolved over millions of years as grazers, with specialized digestive tracts adapted to digest and utilize diets containing high levels of plant fibre.

There are important feeding and management factors to consider to keep horses healthy and comfortable in the heat.

Lifestylers are being urged to help protect New Zealand’s pigs from a deadly swine disease that is spreading overseas and kills about 80 percent of the pigs it infects.

If you have seen the news lately you have probably heard about a highly contagious virus that affects pigs, African swine fever (ASF). It does not affect other animals or humans.

Snuggling up to a soft mohair blanket is a simple luxury, and we are so lucky in New Zealand to have some of the world’s best mohair producers on our door step.

If any of your sheep or cattle seem to be unwell, it can be useful to give your vet a description of the problem by doing a basic health check before you contact them.

Ruminant animals must be able to get around comfortably on their feet so they can eat.

We all have special animals on the farm. They might be dogs or cats, ponies or horses, cattle or pigs. When we’ve shared their lives and enjoyed their company for years, we get very fond of them

Stiff joints, teeth problems, loss of strength and energy. To those of you who are getting on a bit, this may sound familiar.

If one of your horses or dogs seems to be unwell, it can be useful to examine it carefully

These are words to strike fear into the heart of many farmers. However, as lifestyle farmers there are far fewer risks for you and your cattle than there are for many commercial dairy farmers.

Cattle need teeth. But don't ever look in the mouth of a ruminant and worry that it has lost all its top incisors: it never had them.

Cara Meyer is a lateral thinker and her ability to see outside the square is responsible for the establishment of what is now a highly successful horse riding business.

Boars reach maturity around 6 months of age although this can depend on feeding levels and management.

The way an animal is constructed is known as its conformation.

We all know of fat cresty-necked ponies and horses that are prone to laminitis (tender feet or founder).  

Mud fever (greasy heel) and rain scald also known as dermatophilosis are all too common in horses in New Zealand.

We've been farming angora goats for over fifteen years and can't imagine life without them now.

Foot scald and footrot become much more common during prolonged spells of wet weather and they are not easy to deal with.

CAE is a disease of goats caused by a virus. It is present in many herds throughout New Zealand.

Goats that have chewed their way through the dry herbage at many gateways over the summer need as much holiday care as any other animal in the family or on the farm.

Do you think the easiest way to keep your verge tidy might be to get a goat?  Don’t be fooled - it takes a lot of time and effort to look after a tethered goat properly. 

When you shear a sheep or a goat, you remove its weather-proofing. After all, a fleece is warm when it's cold, it prevents sunburn on clear sunny days and it's windproof and water-proof.

In recent years, a lot of progress has been made in understanding how to control worm burdens in livestock.

Housing, health and disease control, some elective husbandry procedures (particularly castration and blunting fighting teeth) and euthanasia.

Females, crias, weaning, identification, selection for transport and behaviour.

The cattle tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) is well established in New Zealand.

Did you know that as a cat owner, you are legally obliged to take proper care of your cat?

 Most of us are responsible dog owners and we already meet all the requirements of the Code.

One of the problems that can occur when a ewe is lambing is that the cervix doesn't relax and expand fully.

Livestock farmers should be careful when allowing their animals to graze any regrowth in pastures that are recovering from drought.

Not a lot is known about the requirements of goats for trace elements like iodine, selenium, copper and cobalt.

For many of us our dogs are our best friends, but we all know the potential for any dog to bite and cause nasty injury.

Some of you keep your goats for their milk, either for home supply or as part of your farming business...

Barber's pole worms (Haemonchus contortus) have been the cause of a lot of goat ill-health, and many goat owners will have suffered losses as a result of this nasty parasite.

Goats now have good legal protection against any treatment that causes unnecessary or unreasonable suffering.

The word 'refugia' seemed to appear out of the blue a few years ago, and was used by veterinarians and parasitologists when talking to farmers about worms (internal parasites) in sheep and in cattle.

A tried and true design for sheep yards built by Bruce Binnie.

Faecal Egg Counts measure the eggs per gram of faeces (epg) that pass through a sheep and hence the worm load.

The broiler chicken industry shows what can be achieved by applied science. 

Bonding between a ewe and her lamb(s) takes only a few minutes. After this she will not take a lamb that smells differently.

With today's more fertile sheep breeds, inevitably there are more lambs born, which everyone thinks is a good thing. 

There are many methods used around the world to shear a sheep using hand shears or blades.

Pig wasting disease, initially called post-weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) is a devastating pig disease.

Zoonoses can be acquired from species other than domestic mammals

There have been some alarming cases of bulls causing injuries and even deaths to humans. 

In the third article in Marjorie Orr's series on zoonoses, we look at diseases including salmonellosis, yersiniosis, ringworm, leptospirosis and scabby mouth.

In this article Dr Clive Dalton examines the things an animal needs to get from its feed

For many of us, our dogs and cats are important members of the family and they enhance our quality of life. 

Ruminants are animals that have a four-part stomach and can digest the fibre (mainly cellulose) in plants.

  We should be aware that there are a few diseases of livestock that can spread to humans.  These are called zoonoses, and many of them are particularly common in spring.

It's worth providing all the help you can in a small flock.  Here are some suggestions:

Many back injuries occur when sheep are being handled, especially when lifting sheep over a fence.

Angora goats are not usually dehorned although the horns are usually tipped (the last 1cm of horn clipped off) as they can be extremely sharp. 

We have to provide a diet for the animal that will meet all its nutritional needs. 

Every spring a new group of people get the urge to rear 'a few calves' to make some extra income. 

If your goats are not doing well, there are many possible causes. 

Suspect neosporosis if any of your cows aborts or is infertile.  Neosporosis is the most common cause of abortion in cows in this country. 

Don't catch or hang on to sheep by their wool.

Chicks dehydrate quickly at the high temperatures of rearing, so they must find water quickly after hatching and learn to drink.

The signs of skin disease are usually fairly obvious, with itchiness, or hair loss, or scurfiiness or sores, or reddening or some other change in the appearance of the skin. 

BVD (Bovine Virus Diarrhoea) is a complicated viral disease of cattle that causes big financial losses in herds across New Zealand.

Chicks are very active and when running, they extend their wings and flap them for use as breaks. 

Studies of wild fowl and free-range domestic hens show the importance of the very strong maternal behaviour that develops between the hen and her chicks.

Thirty years ago leptospirosis was one of the most common zoonoses in NZ with over 400 human cases a year.

This last part in our series on dairy goats considers keeping of one or two pet goats of a dairy breed.

The start of sexual behaviour is greatly affected by the environment, especially feeding, lighting regime and genetic strain. 

Goats don’t have a split upper lip like sheep so don’t graze as close to the ground.

No matter how much we love our goats, we have to subject them to some unpleasant procedures from time to time, like disbudding, castration and ear-tagging. 

Males normally reach sexual maturity between 12-16 weeks old.  This varies with management system and genetics, with the feeding and lighting regime having a major effect. 

This is a fairly long article, but there do seem to be rather a lot of significant health problems in dairy goats. 

In this article Clive Dalton looks at the pros and cons of keeping different types of livestock. If you're thinking of getting livestock for the first time, this article is a great place to start!

Being a social bird from the open forest, the hen has developed a wide range of sounds for communication.

Breeders agree that many traits are important, but they may put them in different orders of priority

Keeping goats in can be a challenge for the farmer!

Part three in a series on Angora goat health and disease looks at lameness and sudden death.

Milking goats provide milk for the family, even butter and cheese, at little cost. 

Every lamb is worth saving this spring - so it's worth putting a lot of effort into your lambing management. 

Dairy goats, like meat and fibre goats, need good feed. 

Acetonaemia is known as ketosis in cows and sleepy sickness (or pregnancy toxaemia or twin lamb disease) in ewes.  Acetonaemia in cows is fairly common, especially in high-producing cows in early lactation. The best cows are most at risk.

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