Organic standards ban the routine use of antibiotics so alternatives for treating farm animals are vital. Sheepdrove has always used homeopathy on the farm.
Organic husbandry works on the principle: prevention is more powerful than cure. We aim for healthy conditions so the animals don’t get ill in the first place. Sheepdrove’s livestock are outdoors as much as possible, grazing on organic pastures with healing herbs, and living in family herds. All this helps reduce stress and create positive health so animals can withstand disease.
But what happens when an animal gets ill? Homeopathy fits well with organic principles because it is non-toxic. The original substance in the remedy is so diluted, there is hardly any left to measure by the time it is used.
It sounds mad. How can it work? As Sue Miles explained, there is not enough of the original substance to cause adverse side-effects but just enough to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
‘We have yet to find a scientific explanation for homeopathy. It will come,’ she says. ‘The thing is – it works.’
Although science does not know how this 200-year old system works, there are many studies to show it does. The animal does not know it is being treated so it can’t be the placebo effect. Farmers like homeopathy because there no worries about antibiotic resistance or toxins going in the food chain. Farmers are practical – they wouldn’t use something that did not work.
The key is to identify symptoms, preferably before the animal gets ill, when it is ‘not quite right’. The more precise the observations, the more accurate the remedy. You need to know your animal. Is it standing in an odd position, away from the rest of the herd or flock? Are its symptoms worse at night? Is it thirsty?
The symptoms are treated like for like. In other words, you chose the remedy that would, in its original state, produce those very symptoms. For instance, if an animal has red, inflamed eyes then a farmer or homeopathic vet might choose the remedy Allium Cepa or Red Onion because onions can cause runny eyes.
Homeopathy does not treat disease by killing it with antibiotics. It’s about looking at the animal as a whole, holistically. Homeopathy, like organic farming, sees symptoms as messengers, giving information that something is wrong: the animal needs help to raise its natural ability to resist disease.
As a butcher, I must add that a healthy animal produces the best-tasting meat.
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