The Yuck Factor

Do not, when going into keeping farm animals in your backyard, underestimate the yuck factor. The many rah-rah boosters of sustainability and those who espouse the glories of raising your own food and composting waste downplay how untidy things really are. Chicken poop stinks. Goats, even small ones, pee… everywhere. Chickens have lice crawling on their skin. Animals shed and hair flies. Puddles in an animal pen are often nasty stews of muck.

Sometimes, you find things even yuckier than the usual day-today messiness.

There’s no break from the care. While I was in Italy, I left the critters under Steve’s capable hands. When I came home he said that Caper had cut his nose and that I should have a look.

scabby nose


I washed it with warm soapy water and dabbed it with povidone and determined that it wasn’t just a wound. I consulted a friend who is far more experienced with goats than I, and my suspicions were confirmed. Bot fly larvae, specific to goats and sheep, had burrowed under Caper’s skin. Yuck.

I consulted with my veterinarian who said that he didn’t appear to need a shot of penicillin, but that I should worm the goats with ivermectin. This anthelmintic comes in a paste form, in a syringe that you squirt into the goat’s mouth. Sorry, I have no photos, as I was squeezing and Steve was straddling Caper, (trying) to hold him still.

It’s not good to worm goats on a regular basis. Pasture management and keeping them healthy help to keep the parasite loads down. However, I do send fecal samples to the vet yearly to ensure that parasites haven’t gotten out of hand. Only once did we need to worm. So, it’s been a few years, and since Caper needed the ivermectin dose, I did Pip, too.

Caper’s nose is still swollen, but there’s no discharge and he isn’t rubbing it raw.

caper nose


It is icky, but that’s the norm with animal keeping. There’s always something.





I’ll be spending a moment in silence this 9/11. I hope that you will, too.


  1. Yuck is the right is probably why neither I nor my 4 brothers became dairy farmers like our father…yuck is delt with on a daily basis, 24/ takes a lot of dedication to deal with the yuck….yet we still have the fondest memories of those childhood years on the farm…and 9/11 will be on my mind all day, take care

  2. I will always remember what I was doing at that fateful moment the first plane hit, a family friend survived but lost many colleagues, my thoughts are with you all.
    At times Yuck can be an understatement. It is amazing how much chickens poop, the cecal and broody poops are the worse !! :)

  3. Oh, the joys of animal keeping! I remember the fun of syringing the larva out of the sores on horses. Woohoo!

    My brother is in law enforcement and watched as the plane flew over him into the Pentagon. He said it was one of the most horrific things he’s ever seen. My mother was on the phone with him when people could be heard shouting that another plane was headed for DC (flight 93). He hung up and called back about 15 minutes later to say they were grabbing what they could carry and leaving the city to set up a command center somewhere else and we would not be hearing from him. We heard nothing for 12 hours after that. He works explosives, so we knew he could be sent to any one of the crash sites. It was a VERY long day. Fortunately, no harm came to him. But it is one of those days you just never forget.

  4. Terry, glad you made it safely back from beautiful Italy. What a great, informative trip!

    Yep, I too understand and live with the yuck factor….but taking care of my animals is always the best part of my day. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world! I know you feel that way, too.

    Glad to hear Caper’s nose is healing. I think you can count on something going amiss when Mama is away, so I am glad to hear it is something manageable. ;) I have not seen bot flies around my goats here in TN, but now that I have seen this, I will be more watchful. We always had them around with the horses.

    9/11 was on my mind all day, too. Thank you for noting it.

    • I’ve yet to see the flies, and unlike horse bot flies, they don’t lay eggs on the animals, so I had not idea that these nasty parasites were about.

  5. This is why I turn to your site first. You do show us all the good, bad, ugly and the YUCK!
    Glad to hear Caper is healing. Thank you for keeping it “real”.

    I think all of us will never forget what we were doing when we heard the tragic news on 9/11.

  6. I don’t worm unless I do an eyelid check and they are looking a bit pink. I usually use Ivermectin, but the paste in a tube that tastes like apples. They actually like it! A few months ago I had some little billies I was about to sell, but they kept having bouts of diarrhea. Long story short, I tried SafeGuard on them and it did the trick immediately.

    Funny how when you go out of town everything just collapses, no matter how good the “help”.

    And speaking of messes, I have automatic waterers for my chickens but have to constantly run the ducks away from them because they stop them up with mud and yucky stuff.

    What bugs me is how the goats will pee and poop where they eat, where they sleep, ugh. Most animals won’t do that.

    It’s pouring rain right now and I’m thinking about how sloppy everything will be today, sigh…

  7. Fascinating. I am always riveted with anything “stable management” related, or veterinarian related. I do have one question: I understand what Ivermectin does, but do you make any other attempt to manually remove the larvae, dead or not? I’ve never had to deal with this particular ‘ick’ although Lord knows I’ve done my time with many others!

    I do recall one period in my life when I owned two Jack Russell then-puppies and a positively antique German Shorthaired Pointer. At opposite ends of the age continuim, the care of each dog required different approaches. One day my boyfriend stopped mid conversation and started laughing. When he could talk he said, “do you realize we haven’t had a conversation in the last two months that didn’t center around the subject of poop?” And there you have it. (Bless him.)

  8. I’ve seen a lot of yucky things as the owner of a wide variety of animals, but the most disgusting by far was the bot fly larvae that came out of a dead wild rabbit that our dogs got ahold of. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. There were 2 larvae, the largest of which was almost an inch long and looked exactly like the picture in your bot fly larvae link above. Here’s a link that explains how it affects rabbits: Apparently they can also infest domesticated rabbits, even inside your home if a bot fly gains access.

    We have a horse and I have heard of bot flies as they relate to horses, but we also have had goats for years and I didn’t realize they could be an issue with goats. Thank you for that information!

    • You also see “fly strike” in chickens – which I’ve seen here once and never, ever, want to see again. Do a henblog search and you’ll find posts about that.

      • Thank you for the heads up on that! I will check it out and hope our chickens never get it!

  9. Yuck or not, requesting return of the goatcam up close and personal…if possible….