• When my daughters were teenagers, they loved showing our goats. It was a great way for us to learn about goat conformation and to see how our goats compared to others. It also provided an opportunity for us to meet other goat owners.

    In this episode, we are talking to Ellen Dorsey of Dill's-A Little Goat Farm in Oklahoma, who has been raising goats for two decades and showing for almost as many years. She talks about why she started showing goats and provides tips for anyone who wants to get started showing goats or improve their herd with an eye towards showing.

    You can visit Dills-A-Little Goat Farm online at …



  • Because barber pole worm (haemonchus contortus) causes so many deaths among goats, we don't talk about other worms much. Barber pole is the worm that sucks blood and causes goats to become anemic, which can cause a goat to go downhill rapidly and even die.

    Goats can be walking around with a host of other worms in their body, however, and ironically most of those worms are unimportant and don't cause disease. So, why are we talking about them? Because most people think that all worms must be killed, and ultimately, the attempt to kill all the worms can result in the barber pole worm killing your goats.

    Since barber pole worm can become resistant to dewormers, we should only use dewormers when the health of the goat is being negatively affected by worms. The more we use a dewormer, the sooner barber pole is going to become resistant to that dewormer — and then barber pole can kill your goats.

    In this episode, I am talking about these common but unimportant worms with Dr. Ann Zajac, Professor Emeritus of Parasitology at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. We're discussing tapeworms, threadworms (strongyloides), pinworms, whipworms, and lungworms, and why we don't usually need to be worried about their existence inside our goats.

    For more information:

    American Association of Small Ruminant Parasite Control

    Copper Oxide as a Dewormer

    Deer Worms in Goats

    Natural Parasite Control with Lespedeza

    Roundworms and Goats

    Using Dewormers Correctly

    Worms During Kidding Season

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  • If you have goats for very long, you may realize that some never need deworming while others need it frequently. There is definitely a genetic component involved in a goat's natural resistance or resilience to worms.

    In this episode I'm talking to Andrew Weaver, Ph.D., Small Ruminants Extension Specialist at North Carolina State University about genetic resistance to worms in goats and sheep. Although there has been a lot more research done on genetic resistance in sheep, goat owners can learn from their playbook and use some of the same selection tools for improving the worm resistance of their herds.

    For more information:

    American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control

    Worms During Kidding Season

    Roundworms and Goats

    Deer Worms in Goats

    Using Dewormers Correctly

  • If you look online for a list of plants that are poisonous to goats, you might think you need to chop down trees and pull up dozens of weeds to keep your goats safe. Those lists can include things like oak and maple leaves, which my goats eat regularly because my farm is covered with them. The fact is that goats actually have a much higher tolerance for poisonous plants than horses and some other animals. So, what's a conscientious goat owner to do?

    In this episode, I'm talking to Kim Cassida from Michigan State University as we talk about the fact that many weeds can actually very nutritious for goats while the number of plants poisonous to goats is actually pretty low.

  • If you ever wanted to sell your goats or sheep to someone in another country, then you are already familiar with the US's problem with scrapie. It's not a huge problem, but having anything more than zero cases for seven years means that most countries will not allow our sheep and goats to be imported into their country.

    In this episode, I am talking to Charles Gaiser, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, who is a sheep and goat epidemiologist with the USDA, APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service), VS (Veterinary Services), RHC (Ruminant Health Center), Small Ruminant Health Team, and we are talking about scrapie, which is a spongiform encephalopathy similar to "mad cow disease" but in goats and sheep.

    Because we have animals in the US with this disease, breeders can only sell goats and sheep to other countries if they have a herd or flock that is certified scrapie free, which takes seven years of testing and surveillance.

    Every time I get an inquiry from someone in another country who wants to buy my goats, I have to say no because my flock is not certified free of scrapie. I've thought about enrolling, but then I just keep hoping that the US can go seven years without any cases. I got really excited in 2019 when I heard that we had gone three years with no positive cases of scrapie! But then there was another one, so that resets the national clock back to zero.

    In this episode, we are talking about the disease, the symptoms, testing, and what you can do to get your herd certified free of scrapie and sell goats internationally.

    For more information

    Main USDA Sheep and Goat Webpage:

    USDA APHIS | Sheep and Goat Health

    National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) Webpage:

    USDA APHIS | National Scrapie Eradication Program

    NSEP Standards:

    Microsoft Word - nsep_program_standards 2019 final.doc (usda.gov)

    Designated scrapie epidemiologists in each state for questions on scrapie:

    Official Designated Scrapie Epidemiologists and Local Points of Contact List (usda.gov)

    To request official sheep and goat tags, a flock or premises ID or both, call 1-866-USDA-Tag (866-873-2824). Free tags can be provided if producer has not received free tags in the past 5 years or as an incentive for providing scrapie surveillance samples from their animals.

    SFCP Webpage:

    USDA APHIS | Free Flock Certification Program

    SFCP Standards:

    standards_current.pdf (usda.gov)

  • Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz first entered our lives in 2004 during their Year of the Goat when they traveled from coast to coast learning about all things goat. They were enamored with these amazing creatures, and they knew they wanted to do something with goats. But what?

    Instead of just reading a couple of books, they decided to literally write a book, as they visited goat dairies, the circus, pack goat operations, slaughterhouses, and even homesteads that had goats as an integral part of their plan for greater self-reliance.

    After 12 months and thousands of miles, they ultimately settled on a small homestead in Maine and decided to start an agritourism business with goats as the centerpiece.

    In this episode, I'm talking to Margaret about their trip, their experiences, and why they ultimately decided on tourism rather than one of the other many goat businesses they learned about. And what it's like sharing your farm with total strangers, both pre-Covid and during.

    You can visit Ten Apple Farm online at ...




    If you are thinking about starting an agritourism business, also check out previous episodes on ...

    Avoiding Diseases with a Biosecurity Plan

    Zoonotic Diseases and Agritourism

    Goat Law

  • There is an old veterinary saying that most animal diseases are bought and sold. It can be so tempting to buy every cute goat that you see, but there are some very good reasons to only buy your animals from reputable breeders who have herds that have tested negative for common diseases.

    In this episode, I am talking to Patty Scharko, DVM, MPH, a Field/Extension Veterinarian at Clemson University in South Carolina about keeping your goats health with a good biosecurity plan. It all starts with buying healthy animals and then being careful to not bring home any germs that will cause diseases.

    We talk about annual herd testing for the most common diseases, as well as how to keep your goats safe when people visit your farm or you go to goat shows.

    To learn more about caprine arthritis encephalitis, check out the "Working to Eradicate CAE" podcast we did a few months ago.

    To learn more about biosecurity:

    Dr. Julie Smith’s biosecurity grant funding provides:

    Biosecurity Training (videos)

    Youth, 4-H and FFA Biosecurity Learning Modules

    Iowa State University Center for Food Security and Public Health:

    Small Ruminant Diseases and Resources

    For more information on infection control:

    Disinfection (info about disinfectants, bacteria, and viruses)

  • Most of us love our goats so much and want to share their awesomeness with the world. Unfortunately, that is not a risk-free proposition because there are some diseases that goats can transmit to humans — even healthy goats!

    In today’s episode, we are talking to Megin Nichols, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, at the Center for Disease Control where she leads the team that investigates multi-state outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli, and other zoonotic diseases. I first heard her speak at a conference of the American Dairy Goat Association where she talked about a huge outbreak of E. coli that occurred in Connecticut when a farm decided to have an open farm day where visitors could get up close and personal with their goats.

    We are talking about how you can protect yourself, as well as guests who visit your farm. In addition to that, we also talk about protecting yourself when delivering baby goats, butchering chickens, and doing just about anything that involves poop or bodily fluids that come from livestock.

    Stickers to hand out at events:

    Washing hands after petting zoo: https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/images/social-media/v1-wash-your-hands-ig.jpgWashing hands after an animal exhibit: https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/images/social-media/v4-wash-your-hands-after-exhibit-ig.jpg
  • If you're confused by everything you've heard about copper needs in goats, then hopefully this episode will clear things up.

    We are joined again by Dr. Robert VanSaun who teaches veterinary science at Pennsylvania State University and specializes in ruminant nutrition, and he debunks common myths while explaining symptoms of deficiency and toxicity, and how they are different, as well as where to start in your copper supplementation program. He also drives home the idea that all nutrition is local, and you can't simply copy what someone is doing on another farm.

  • Although we are finally getting the word out that current research shows that you should not routinely deworm goats or deworm the whole herd at one time, one of the last old-fashioned ideas about dewormers is still hanging on -- the idea that you must deworm all does after kidding (or within a week or two before kidding). The fact that does have often have an increase in their fecal egg counts around the time of kidding has caused people to believe that deworming is necessary. However, this comes from a misunderstanding of how correlation in this case does not mean there is a cause and effect.

    Most people are not aware that worms do NOT hatch inside the goat, so more eggs in a fecal does not equal more worms in the goat. Worms need oxygen to hatch, so they only hatch on pasture. That means that the increase in fecal egg count does not cause the poor body condition that you may see in some does after kidding. In this episode, I am once again talking to Susan Schoenian, a sheep and goat specialist at the University of Maryland Research Center, as we talk about how kidding affects a doe's immune system, as well as what we need to do about it -- or not. And what can we do other than administer a dewormer?

    For more information

    Copper Oxide as a Dewormer

    Using Dewormers Correctly

    Natural Parasite Control with Sericea Lespedeza

    American Association of Small Ruminant Parasite Control

  • I've always referred to colostrum as liquid gold. Whenever someone asks me what they should give a kid when it's born, the answer is short and simple -- colostrum. When a kid is born, the number one goal is to get colostrum into it as soon as possible. After recording this episode, I am even more appreciative of this amazing food that mama goats make for their babies.

    Dr. Robert Van Saun, a professor of veterinary science at Pennsylvania State University, returns to talk about all of the amazing properties of colostrum, as well as how much kids need, when they need it, and what can mess things up. (Hint: do not milk your goat before she kids!)

    Dr. Van Saun also talks about how you can tell if colostrum is higher or lower quality, including recent research and how to test colostrum.

  • Whether you live in Florida or Canada, odds are good that you will be worried about your goats giving birth when it is cold out. However, the definition of cold can vary dramatically between those two places. When I'm talking to people in southern states, they are worried when temperatures are dipping below 50. Whereas those of us in Illinois and other northern states don't worry too much until it looks like temperatures will be dipping into the single digits or below zero.

    We've had more kiddings below zero than I can recall at this point, and personally I'd be happy if it never happened again. There are so many things to worry about at those temperatures, which are not a concern at warmer temperatures.

    In this episode I am talking to Lisa and Michael Davis of Sweet Doe Dairy, whom you first met in Episode 18, which was about their gelato dairy in Vermont. Since they have temperatures that are similar to Illinois in winter, I thought it would be interesting to compare stories and experiences about goats giving birth in cold weather.

    You can follow Sweet Doe Dairy on Facebook and Instagram.

  • Selenium is a very important mineral in a goat's diet. However, since most soil in the U.S. is deficient in selenium, and the U.S. government limits the amount of selenium that can be added to goat feeds and minerals, it's not that easy to make sure your goats get enough selenium.

    In this episode, I'm talking to veterinary and ruminant nutritionist, Dr. Robert Van Saun, a professor of veterinary science at Pennsylvania State University. He talks about the notorious history of selenium, as well as symptoms of deficiency. You'll learn how much selenium goats need in their diet and how to make sure they are getting it. We also talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of selenium supplements. (Spoiler alert: So-called "selenium gel" does not actually have enough selenium in it to be helpful for a goat that is actually deficient in selenium.)

    If you are listening to this episode while driving or milking goats, and you have an urge to start taking notes, remember that the transcript is on the Thrifty Homesteader website, so you can review all of the numbers that Dr. Van Saun shares.

  • What is the difference between a controlled study and observations that you make on your farm? In this episode I’m talking to Joan Burke, Ph.D., who has been researching alternative dewormers in small ruminants for about two decades.

    In addition to talking about some of her parasite research, we also are debunking some myths that you may have heard. Plus we are talking about the importance of randomly assigning goats to a control group (that receives nothing) to compare to a treatment group, as well as a few others important factors involved in figuring out what treatment caused what response.

  • In addition to being the author of the newly released book, Grow Your Own Spices, Tasha Greer is also a homesteader and goat owner. Today we are talking about extended lactations in Nigerian dwarf goats, as well as making cheese without a recipe.

    Although most people only milk their goats for a few months or a year at most, many goats are capable of continuing to produce milk for two to three years. This is something we've been doing on our farm for awhile, so I was excited to learn that Tasha milks her does for an extended period without rebreeding.

    Tasha uses her goat milk to make homemade cheese for her family, and we also talk about how she doesn't let her cheesemaking be defined by recipes. Instead, she has created her own unique cheeses.

  • Meningeal worm, also known as deer worm, is a worm that is normally found in white tail deer, but goats can become infected. In this episode Dr. Tatiana Stanton, a goat and sheep specialist with Cornell University Extension, is talking about how deer worm is different than intestinal worms that goats have, symptoms of an infection, and treatment.

    Although deer worm is not nearly as common as intestinal worms, they can be much more deadly. While a goat can walk around with thousands of roundworms in its digestive tract, a single deer worm in the spinal column or brain stem can paralyze a goat and even kill it, if it is not treated. Getting treatment started as quickly as possible also plays a big role in a successful outcome.

    For more information:

    Deer Worm Factsheet for goat and sheep producers, Cornell University

    Deer Worm Treatment Protocols, Small Ruminant Parasite Research, Cornell University

    Meningeal Worm (Deer, Brain Worm) by Dr. Mary Smith, DVM, and Dr. Tatiana Stanton (PowerPoint presentation)

  • If you've had friends taste your cheese and tell you that you should go pro and start selling it, this is the episode for you. Years ago when that happened to me, I visited Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in Illinois for a two day workshop to learn more about turning my passion into a business.

    Unlike most of my guests whom I've only known online, I've personally known Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell for more than a decade, so this is an especially fun episode for me. Leslie tells the story of why they decided to build a creamery and how they got started, as well as some of the lessons learned along the way.

    For more information:




  • If you ask any goat breeder what is their favorite breed, they will most likely tell you it's the breed they are raising. However, there is no perfect breed. Each one has its own pros and cons. In the world of meat goats it is not uncommon to hear people say that boers provide more meat, whereas kikos have better parasite resistance — and the discussion usually ends with those two breeds.

    Richard Browning, Ph.D., of Tennessee State University, has been studying the genetic differences between boer, kiko, Spanish, and myotonic goats since 2001. In this episode he talks about the differences that they have found in their research herd, which numbers about 250 head.

  • Today we have questions from three listeners, so we are talking about

    urine scald, does in heat, and what you may want to have in your goat medicine cabinet. Remember that I am not a vet, and that this information is provided for educational purposes only. I'm talking about why people may have specific items in their medicine cabinet and what they may be used for.

    If you would like to ask a question that may be used in a future Q&A episode, click here to record your question.

    Click on one of the podcast players to listen, or page down to read the transcript.

    For more information on topics I discuss in this episode, check out these links:

    Copper Oxide as a Dewormer -- podcast

    Using Dewormers Correctly -- podcast

    Roundworms in Goats -- podcast

    Dewormer Resistance in Goats -- article

    Today's episode was sponsored by Standlee Premium Western Forage, which makes my favorite alfalfa pellets and timothy hay pellets!

    Standlee Premium Western Forage
    We've been using and loving hay pellets from Standlee Premium Western Forage for more than 10 years!

  • Whether you are facing resistance to chemical dewormers, or whether you prefer to use more natural remedies, copper oxide wire particles may be helpful in the fight against barber pole worm (haemonchus contortus) in goats and sheep. Joan Burke, Ph.D., has been studying the effects of copper oxide and other alternative dewormers on intestinal worms since the early 2000s. She has had multiple studies published in peer-reviewed journals, such as Veterinary Parasitology. In this episode, Dr. Burke talks about using copper oxide in goats, as well as her research on herbal dewormers.

    Dr. Burke is also a member of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, where you can find links to more than a decade's worth of studies done on worms in goats, sheep, and camelids.