Celebrating our Golden Oldies couldn’t be without some insight from CAM4animals supporters. So, here are some tips and fond memories of their old animals from dog, cat and horse owners along with members of the farming community.

Farm animals

CAM4animals is proud to have grown with the support of our farmers, especially those who have trained on farm homeopathy courses.  They rely on herbal medicine and homeopathy along with high welfare and farm management standards to achieve antibiotic-free status or close to. This also enables them to use less invasive methods of parasite control and disease prevention.  We invited some of these farmers to discuss their viewpoints of older animals and the place they fill on their farms. We hope this gives you another good reason to choose products from these non-intensive farms.

Di Slaney from Manor Farm Charitable Trust talking to some of her sheep
Di Slaney from Manor Farm Charitable Trust chatting with some of her sheep

Shadiya Kingerlee ran a calf at foot dairy in Oxfordshire

I absolutely think there’s a place for older animals on the farm, especially herd animals, that in nature would have a matriarch.  Also, if you don’t push for maximum production, you will have a cow that is productive for longer. Buttercup had her last calf aged 17, which was not all that unusual in the olden days, if the old farm books I read are anything to go by. I’d rather have lower yields of milk and a calf every year for 15 years than replace my cows every two to three lactations because they are ill and no longer able to produce loads of milk.

Bridget Whell – Cornish dairy farmer

Like Shadiya, we had a pure Holstein cow, who was 19 years old when she died. Her last two calves were left with her as she thoroughly deserved a proper retirement ~ if child-rearing could ever be called retirement! They definitely live longer and from a commercial perspective we have lower replacement costs and a higher proportion of mature, therefore experienced, calvers and a better milk yield than from a group of heifers (young female cows).

She wasn’t milked whilst suckling – it is impossible to do properly with a large herd, unfortunately. We have racked our brains but 400 cows moving in and out of the parlour would not do small calves much good! We do take a couple of deserving cases (retired cows) each year to double suckle the beef calves, although our 19 year old only had her own.

Di Slaney – Manor Farm Charitable Trust sanctuary for disabled farm animals

Retired goats at Manor Farm Charitable Trust
Retired goats at the Manor Farm Charitable Trust

The Manor Farm Trust team spends most of their time treating the problems that come with aging. We aim to provide each animal with an improved quality of life for as long as we can. The older animals have an important role on the farm. They teach the younger animals how to behave with herd members how to be sensible with their people. They also teach them bad habits ie how to escape or how to avoid being caught to have their feet trimmed!  The older animals also have a real part to play in the community here so we keep them in their mixed groups for as long as we can.  There is a tipping point reached where the younger ones prevent the older ones from accessing the food. That’s when we start to see the older animals starting to struggle, so we pull them out to a safer area.

Read more about this extraordinary animal sanctuary in our blog here 

Eric Kujif, Norway – sheep farmer who uses homeopathy and is antibiotic free

Spike, the Border Collie from Norway
Spike the Norwegian Border Collie

Our sheep normally stay with us as long as they are healthy, the oldest ones are now 10 years of age and will enjoy their retirement. But we do have another pensioner – Spike, our Border Collie, who just reached the age of 15 years. Time has been flying, and I still remember him as the boisterous pup he was. But he has become old now. He is stiff when he rises, deaf, and doesn’t see so well anymore, but his sense of smell still works perfectly. When we are out walking, he tires more quickly than usual, has some difficulty with putting his feet in the right spot on uneven terrain, but he is enjoying life, and that is important to us. My wife and I often say that without homeopathy, he wouldn’t have lived so long.  Lycopodium is his constitutional remedy. So, every few months, when we see he struggles a bit more than usual, we repeat this remedy. The difference in behaviour is almost immediate.  We are still going on, adjusting ourselves to him, and we take one day at a time.

Jane Dobson – Broadstone Rare Breeds – uses organic and biodynamic farming methods and is a Whole Health Agriculture Livestock Health Advisor

For me, working with older stock is a joy and makes my job really easy. They have built up natural immunity to the challenges of the farm’s environment which is passed on to their lambs. This natural immunity means that they are rarely unwell and are productive for longer. The older ewe understands the farm’s routines, what is expected of them and they will ‘ask’ for help if it’s needed. This is especially important at lambing time. During lambing, the older girl has ‘been there before’. She is a reliable mother and enough trust has been built up that any birthing problems are easily sorted without us all getting stressed. Luckily, my use of homeopathy means that lambing complications are few. The older ewe knows post lambing routines so any activity such as transfer into pens, tagging and moving into the field is straightforward. Sheep are social animals and live in a hierarchical system. Youngsters learn from older siblings, ‘aunts’ and ‘grandmothers’. For this reason, I run all the sheep together and only remove entire ram lambs from the group when they are five months old.  

Fly the retired sheep celebrating at Broadstone Rare Breeds farm
Fly, celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Broadstone Rare Breeds

Read more about the older animals at Broadstone Rare Breeds farm in our blog here

Meg Walters Organic Beef and Sheep

Meg writes regularly for Whole Health Agriculture which champions farmers who use CAM in order to provide us with low toxin, ‘Real Food’.  All of Meg’s livestock benefit from nutraceuticals and homeopathy but Meg told us about another important member of the farm team, her retired sheepdog Minnie.

Meg told us

Minnie doesn’t work anymore; she knows her limits! She now runs in the middle of the flock or just half-heartedly chases one. They take no notice of her these days.  I can see my other working collie rolling his eyes as he holds everything together at the back. Minnie has hydrotherapy and physiotherapy and we are currently giving her herbs for her stiff old self!   She’s probably the brightest, most mischievous collie I’ve ever owned. She still has a great sense of humour. In her hay day, she did obedience, fly ball, agility, and of course sheep work. I desperately want her to live forever, but at 14.5 she’s definitely slowing down now!

Minnie the working sheep dog from Lower Hurst Organic Herefords
Minnie the sheep dog, taking a break from keeping the sheep in order

Hook Norton Brewery

Finally, although this isn’t a farm, we wanted to include the very beautiful “Hooky Heavies”, the heavy horses who draw the Hook Norton Brewery wagon to deliver their beer.  Nelson is a treasured member of the Hook Norton Brewery team.  At the age of 22 years old he has been in retirement for two years and is very happy too!

Nelson the retired Shire Horse from Hook Norton Brewery
Nelson aged 22 years, enjoying retirement at Hook Norton Brewery

Kelly May, who looks after him and the other two boys, tells us that he doesn’t mind being retired at all. He’s very happy to watch his buddies, Commander and Lucas, go out to work while he stays in enjoying snacks and pampering.

To keep up the very important job of delivering beer to the local community, The Hooky Heavies enjoy holistic healthcare in the form of Masterson Method equine massage, Zoopharmacognosy with essential oils from Hedgewitch Essentials Equine (who also sponsor their going out clothes) and homeopathy when needed.

Small animals

Jacqui’s cat

My old cat, no longer with us, lived until he was 23 and was raw fed, long before I knew it was a thing. He could smell a prawn from three rooms away. He did have some Reiki but I didn’t know much about complementary health in those days.

Sue MacLennan – Galen Myotherapist and owner of Monty the tripaw and Scooby Dood

Scooby Dood will be 12 in November. He enjoys regular myotherapy and zoopharmacognosy sessions help him to manage his anxiety and fears. He’s a sweet soul, a ‘middle child’ who is always at Monty’s side and is much less demanding and attention seeking than my other two, Holly & Master Fergus!

Bouba – nutraceuticals and homeopathy

Bouba is almost 14 years old. He has been on Rhus Tox 30c for a month and started Nutraquin + a week later. He now has Rhus Tox, Ruta Grav and Arnica (RRA) which we started recently. I’m totally amazed how dogs know what they need as six months ago my other dog was on Rhus Tox. Bou always came over to check, just in case he was missing out but each time he turned his nose up, I believe because he didn’t need it then, but now he wants to take it. However, he’s very cunning about spitting out pills so I just put it on his bed and he keenly licks it up 😁. I think it is making his life a bit better. Thanks to my holistic vet, Ilse Pedler.

Bouba ~ nearly 14

Kate Mallatratt – Canine behaviourist and founder of Pickpocket Foragers

My top tip would be introducing foraging games. When their eyesight isn’t as acute and their hearing isn’t as sharp, I think they rely on scent more. Such a large part of the brain is taken up with olfactory enrichment, and I feel we should take advantage of this. When a dog can’t go for a walk or exercise is limited, they can really benefit from foraging games. You can fold treats in a blanket or use a snufflemat or PickPocket. Olfactory enrichment is also fabulous for dogs with cognitive dysfunction. I do love the wisdom of older dogs. 

14 year old Bec amuses herself with one of the simpler Pickpocket Foragers

Useful links relating to the topics above

Whole Health Agriculture and their Learning Centre

Manor Farm Charitable Trust Website  and Facebook 

Broadstone Rare Breeds on Facebook and their Website 

Lower Hurst Farm on Facebook  and their Website 

Hooky Heavies on Instagram and Hook Norton Brewery website

Hedgewitch Essentials on Facebook

Pickpocket Foragers

See our Modalities Section for information about the treatments mentioned in the blog and how to find a vet or other CAM practitioner.

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This blog may also contain an element of consumer opinionWhilst CAM4animals welcomes positive recommendations for holistic healthcare products, we don’t necessarily endorse the product or the author’s opinion. We acknowledge that each animal is an individual and may react differently to the highlighted product/s. There may also be other products available that produce similarly positive results.

The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website