Goats relish Neem leaves. We try to feed them with these normally using lopped off branches when trimming as and when we can afford to and we only have a single mature tree. There are some younger saplings but these are just too young to justify the quantity of leaves we would like to have available.
The use of Neem in veterinary medicine in India dates back to the times of the epic Mahabharata (300 B.C). According to scholars, two of the five Pandava brothers Nakul and Sahadev, who practiced veterinary medicine, used Neem to treat ailing and wounded horses and elephants by applying poultices prepared from Neem leaves and Neem oil for healing the wounds etc., during the battle of Mahabharata. Ancient Sanskrit literature indicates Neem applications as feed and in a large number of prescriptions and formulations to provide health cover to livestock in various forms. Various Neem preparations were standardized in the form of oils, liniments, powders and liquids. Ayurvedic scholars recommend the use of Neem oil as antipyretic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, analgestic, antihistaminic, anthelmintic and as an acaricide.
Neem has been traditionally used against various livestock insects such as maggots, hornflies, blow-flies and biting flies. Neem is also useful for controlling some bacteria of veterinary importance and against intestinal worms in animals. Patnaik, (1993) highlights the livestock friendly medicinal role of neem in the following: “the tree (neem) is revered by Indian herdsmen as a gentle but effective veterinary poultice, a virtue confirmed by the 16th century Portuguese botanist and traveler, Garcia de Orta in his “Coloquios”.
Neem trees grow slowly during their first year, but they reach maturity fast. You can expect to harvest your first neem fruit after three to five years. It takes about ten years for a neem tree to get to full production. After that it will produce 30 to 50 kg of fruit a year. A neem tree can be expected to live much more longer that any of us can ever hope for 150 to 200 years.