What are Holistic Treatments?
Holistic Treatment or “Holistic Therapies” are designed to treat the whole patient whether it be animal or human as opposed to the specific symptom they may be displaying. Holistic treatment is thought to treat the illness by boosting the immune system and overall health of the animal, which will in turn treat any secondary illnesses.
The foundation of holistic treatment is optimal nutrition. This is the “fuel” for the body and therefore needs to contain all of the essential components that an animal needs to boost its immune system and maintain health. We look at natural nutrition in more detail later in the course.
Other important elements of the holistic treatment of ailments and diseases in animals include naturopathy, herbal treatments, tactile therapy and homeopathy.
Prevention is Always the Best Control
Disease is one of the greatest risks of livestock health. The risk of disease should be minimised so as to avoid costly treatment and/or potentially having to destroy infected animals.
The main source of many diseases and parasites are the individual animals themselves. Animals that may have been infected by a disease when young might still carry the disease later in life. These diseases can then be transmitted to younger stock that come into contact with these older animals. However, steps can be taken to reduce the chance of disease spreading through a herd or flock.
Housing or shelter
Areas and buildings where animals are grouped together for protection are one of the most likely places for diseases to be transmitted. The risk of disease being spread in these areas can be minimised in housing by taking certain steps which include:
- Provide good ventilation in permanent housing with adequate spacing between animals – This prevents the temperature rising to a point which may cause heat stress to the animals and also reduces the likelihood of respiratory diseases spreading between the animals.
- Keep permanent housing free of faecal contamination – Faecal build-up is a potential source of pathogenic build-up and attracts flies to the shelter. Regularly clean floors with disinfectant. Ensure that flooring and walls are free of cracks. Place food and water away from where they may be contaminated by faecal matter.
- Temporary housing should be treated in the same manner. Animals should be provided with adequate space in clean housing. It is beneficial to rotate the holding areas regularly.
Ensure that all equipment used with animals are kept clean and disinfected. If you do not wish to use disinfectant it is paramount that equipment is kept clean and free from organic contaminants. Harnesses and other equipment should be checked regularly to ensure that they fit correctly and are not causing stress to the animal.
If farmers are administering drugs to animals themselves, they need to ensure that all syringes and needles are kept sterile. Contaminated needles can pass pathogens from one animal to the next.
Unhealthy animals can require grooming by the farmer to ensure they are kept clean. If this is not done, they may become infested with ectoparasites such as ticks or mites. Skin which is soiled by faeces can also attract flies leading to risk of myiasis (fly-strike). Wound care is also important in maintaining health. Small cuts and wounds should heal themselves as long as they are kept clean. Those which become septic may require antibiotics.
It is important for farmers to be aware of seasonal arthropod infestations and how these should be managed. Farmers should also gain knowledge of poisonous or noxious plants in the region. Animals introduced to a new pasture might not avoid poisonous plants, so farmers should restrict their grazing time each day to reduce the chance of poisoning. There is also a danger when pastures are overgrazed and the deeper-rooted noxious plants are the only ones available for grazing. Farmers should provide adequate fodder in different areas. This also avoids congregation around one feed source which can increase the risk of disease being spread.