Just like indoor pets, companion farm animals need veterinary care and routine at-home health care. Of course, providing immunizations to a 250-pound Yorkshire pig is different from putting your kitten in a carrier and driving her to the vet. Fortunately, many large animal veterinarians make house calls (and unless you have a trailor and a very tolerant farm animal, they’d have to).
So what exactly do farm animals need in terms of medical care?
Most livestock (goats, sheep, pigs, cattle), horses, and poultry (including water fowl) require de-wormers and vaccines, which will vary depending on the species. Mammals are generally vaccinated against rabies and tetanus.
All farm birds in the state of Massachusetts must be tested for Salmonella (this testing is free and can be arranged by contacting 617-626-1796). Testing for Avian flu and Mycoplasma is available and encouraged. The state believes that the best way to keep your birds healthy is to obtain eggs and chicks from Salmonella-free farms, and to keep their coop very clean.
Hoof and Horn Care
All animals with hooves require hoof care, which may include trimming or treatment of hoof-related illness or injury. Experienced owners may be able to provide hoof treatment and trimming on their own, but inexperienced owners are encouraged to consult a veterinarian. Animals with horns (goats, sheep) may require trimming or removal of their horns, if they are broken or an injury risk to the animal or others in the herd.
Some horses are shod (wear shoes), but not all. Your veterinarian can help you determine whether shoes are appropriate for your horse. A farrier (specialist who makes horse shoes and attaches them to a horse’s hooves) can help you choose the best product for your horse and assist in creating a hoof care plan for your horse.
To find a local large animal veterinarian, ask for referrals from neighbors with companion farm animals, or contact your local MSPCA adoption center for suggestions.