Herbs and farming have gone together since the beginning of humankind's
domestication of animals. It is only in the 20th century that we began to see routine use of
chemicals and began to lose our ability to work with the natural world around us in keeping
livestock healthy. Sheep that are allowed to graze free range will pick and choose the plants
that they need for optimum health. It is our imposition of fencing and our control of their
forage that has left them most vulnerable to parasites. In an ideal world, sheep would graze
an area and move on to clean pastures, and they would not choose to eat unclean pastures.
But our methods of farming livestock takes away that natural ability of the animal to
remain healthy on its own. Without a doubt, we are fortunate to have chemical dewormers
available to battle parasites, which are the most common cause of sheep illness and failure
to thrive. But, I also believe that we can incorporate herbs (and other natural remedies) so
that overall immune system health can be improved. The healthier an animal is, the better it
will be able to battle parasites and illnesses. I am now a firm believer in using cider vinegar,
and if you haven't done so already, be sure to visit this page.
Following are some resource books of interest to those who would like to use herbals in
managing their flocks:
"The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable" by Juliette de Bairacli Levy)
"Raising Animals by the Moon" by Louise Riotte.
Following is a "materia medica" of herbals for livestock health. As time permits this list will expand. Much information is taken from the
above reference books. This is by no means a complete list, but I hope it will inspire you to do further research.
Alfalfa - Alfalfa contains large amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins; it is nervine and tonic and is an excellent kidney cleanser. Because
alfalfa has roots that can go as deep as 125 ft., it brings up vital minerals not attainable by other vegetation. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E
and K. It is a blood builder, good for teeth and bones, and excellent for milk producing animals.
Birch - Birch is useful in treating digestive ailments. The leaves are cleansing and will expel worms.
Carrots - Carrots are useful for eye disorders due to the carotin. They are good for all animals, and help to expel worms.
Comfrey - Comfrey is a large plant and sheep particularly relish the young shoots. Its healing substance is identified as allantoin.
Dandelion - Dandelion is blood-cleansing and tonic and helps cure jaundice. The leaves strengthen tooth enamel and dandelion is an over-all good
Dill - Dill increases milk yield and is a good treatment for digestive ailments.
Fennel - Fennel increases milk yield and possesses antiseptic and tonic properties.
Garlic - Garlic is very well known for its medicinal purposes. Highly antiseptic, garlic is rich in sulfur and volatile oils. Garlic is one of the best
worm expellents. Garlic helps immunize against infectious diseases and helps in treating fever, gastric disorders, rheumatism and is affective
against parasites such as ticks, lice and liver fluke. Garlic is also thought to increase the fertility of animals.
Hops - Hop shoots are beloved of grazing animals and hops are a good conditioner, being tonic and nervine. Also an antiseptic and vermifuge.
Flowers are a milk stimulant.
Horehound - Horehound is best known as a cough remedy in the treatment of pneumonia, colds, and lung disorders.
Lavender - Lavender is highly tonic, antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial and gives a sweet flavor to milk and cheese. The whole plant is useful.
Click here for more information about lavender.
Lemon - Lemon is a good blood cleanser. Also good for fevers, diarrhea and worms and may be used externally for skin ailments, ringworm and
mange and to cleanse sores. Add honey when using internally.
Lemon Balm - Lemon balm is a good pasture plant as it promotes the flow of milk. Its good for retained afterbirth and uterine disorders.
Marigold - Marigold is eagerly eaten by sheep and goats. It is a good heart medicine.
Mint - Mint will decrease milk flow and would be good for ewes when weaning lambs.
Mulberry - Mulberry leaves and fruit are a good treatment for worms.
Mustard - Mustard is a good natural dewormer
Parsley - Parsley improves milk yield and sheep love it. Parsley is rich in iron and copper and improves the blood. It contains vitamins A and B
and is good in cases of rheumatism, arthritis, emaciation, acidosis and for diseases of the urinary tract.
Pumpkins - excellent for deworming sheep and a good source of vitamins.
Raspberry - Raspberry is well liked by sheep. It is especially good for pregnancy and birthing. Also good for digestive ailments.
Rosemary - Sheep love rosemary and it gives a fine flavor to the milk. It is both tonic and antiseptic.
Sunflowers - Sunflowers are rich in Viamins B (1), A, D and E.
Thyme - Thyme is another milk tonic and the oil is a worm expellent.
Turnips - Turnips are another good food source that helps in deworming sheep.
Violet - Violet leaves are rich in Vitamin C and A.
Watercress - Watercress has large quantities of vitamins A, B, C and B (2), as well as iron, copper, magnesium, and calcium. It promotes strong
bones and teeth and is good for anemia. It increases milk yield.
Yarrow - Sheep in particular will seek out the beneficial yarrow plant.
Wormwood - This very powerful herb is especially good as a dewormer, as is Southernwood.
When the misty vapors start to
and the sheep and goats do
sneeze and wheeze,
Then, quick! With herbs ward
Hollyhock root & raspberry
Peppermint and chamomile
if you please."