It can be expensive to stock every possible treatment that your sheep and goats might need.

Fortunately, there are some less expensive home remedies that can sometimes be used to treat mild disease conditions or provide support to sick or stressed animals. While the benefits of these are often anecdotal, and research may be lacking, many producers swear by their use.

Metabolic problems are among the most common experienced by sheep and goats. Symptoms are usually the result of too much acid in the gut.

Sheep and goats with mild cases of bloat or acidosis can be drenched with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vegetable oil, mineral oil, or over-the-counter antacids.

Constipation can be relieved with castor oil, mineral oil or Milk of Magnesia. Some producers provide free choice baking soda to their sheep and goats as a preventative for digestive upsets.

Mild, non-infectious causes of diarrhea (scours) are often treated with Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol.

Yogurt is commonly given to animals with diarrhea. The probiotics in yogurt help to restore gut health. kefir contains more (but different) probiotics than yogurt.

Dehydration is a common result of diarrhea. Sheep and goats can be rehydrated with Gatorade or Pedialyte if commercial electrolytes are not available.

Pregnancy toxemia (ketosis) is caused by a lack of energy in the late gestation diet. While propylene glycol is the standard treatment for early cases, you may have items in your kitchen cabinet that can similarly provide quick sources of energy.

These include corn oil, corn syrup, apple cider vinegar, molasses and honey. Corn oil can also be added to the feed to increase energy content.

Sometimes the only symptom of a sick animal is it is off-feed. There are many ways to provide supplemental nutrition to sheep and goats.

Beer has a long history of being used for livestock that are off-feed. Some producers give Ensure or similar nutritional shakes. A popular recipe for homemade nutri-drench is 1 cup corn oil, 1 pint molasses and 1 pint corn syrup.

The probiotics in yogurt and kefir can help to restore a healthy gut and stimulate appetite. It is likely that future research will determine more precisely the role of probiotics in animal health and nutrition. In the meantime, it advisable to give probiotics — including yogurt — to any animal that is sick, off-feed, or stressed.

Essential oils are increasingly being used in animal and human health. Peppermint oil is recommended as a mastitis therapy. Tea tree oil has been used to treat hoof disease. Oregano oil is being evaluated for its potential to prevent coccidiosis.

Aspirin can be an option when prescription anti-inflammatory drugs are not available. Some producers opt for children’s aspirin, especially for smaller animals. Unfortunately, aspirin is insufficient to provide pain relief for docking or castrating.

There are probably many more household remedies that sheep and goat producers could share.

As with any animal health issue, producers are encouraged to contact their veterinarians if they have any questions about these household remedies.

For more information about natural and home remedies, go to

Susan Schoenian is a sheep and goat specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.


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