Considerations to make as you prepare to purchase livestock

Purchasing new livestock, whether simply adding to your herd or acquiring a new 4-H requires some pre-purchase considerations to evaluate animal health and to make sure your facilities are ready.

February 13, 2019 - Author: ,

A Sheep looking into the camera

Acquiring new stock is exciting no matter if it is to build your herd or if it is the purchase of your annual 4-H project. Making sure to do your homework so that you are fully prepared is key in starting off on the right foot. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you take the time to get all of the important health information about potential purchases from the seller and that you prepare animal housing facilities ahead of time. This will help to make the transition to a new home as stress free as possible.

Assessing animal health and treatment documentation

When purchasing animals it is important to know their history. Answering the following questions will help you make an informed purchase:

  • When was the animal born?
  • What vaccinations has it been given and when were they given?
  • Have any other treatments been administered to the animal (deworming, delouse, antibiotics, etc.)? If so, what is the slaughter withdrawal for the drugs given?
  • Have any of the animals on the farm been ill or shown symptoms of illness?
  • If acquiring a market animal, what is the approximate weight?

Bringing new stock home

From trailering your new animal home to unloading it and to monitoring its health closely, there are many considerations to make once you decide to purchase new stock.

Transportation. Some of us have our own trailers and transporting new stock home is no problem. If you do not own a trailer, you may need to make arrangements with the breeder or someone else that has a trailer that can transport animals for you. Please remember that, although some people may want to help you out free of charge, as a courtesy you should be prepared to pay someone to provide transportation. The person helping you has a monetary investment in transporting your stock—you are essentially using their equipment (trucks and trailers) which have cost them money and also the fuel that they use for transport. When deciding how much to pay for transportation, consider the amount of the persons time that is being asked for, the number of miles between farms, and the price of fuel. 

Unloading. Making sure that your facility is ready to acquire new livestock before they arrive is essential and can make the transition less stressful. Make sure that you have a pen identified for new animals to go into that is set up with water and appropriate feed when you arrive. Make sure that gates that are supposed to be shut are shut and gates that are supposed to be opened are open, and that there is a clear path to the new pen. This will help to avoid any mishaps and lose animals.

Settling in. Newly acquired animals should be quarantined—or kept away from other animals that are already housed on the premises—for a minimum of 21 days. The more physical space you can put in between animals the better. At minimum, try to avoid nose to nose contact and comingling feeding and watering. Use separate buckets and feed pans. During this time, it is critical to observe the animals for any signs of stress or illness.  If after 21 days, the newly acquired animal has not shown any symptoms of illness, it should be safe to comingle them into your existing herd or flock.

Co-mingling. When you are beginning to co-mingle animals, remember that each specie has a herd hierarchy. It is important to make sure that hazards to animals as they establish their place in the herd or flock are kept to a minimum. Over the course of a day, the herd or flock should settle into a routine that includes the new animals.

Tags: 4-h animal science, 4-h companion animals, 4-h livestock, academic success, agriculture, animal science, beginning farmer livestock, companion animals, livestock, msu extension


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