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The Moo News

Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care                                                            December 2001

            The theme for this newsletter is timely attention to your animals’ problems. Without a doubt, the sooner you address a problem the easier it will be to fix, no matter what medical approach you prefer. For example, I was helping a new vet at another clinic the other week and went to see a cow that he diagnosed with a right-sided twisted stomach. When I got there half an hour later, she could no longer stand and was in extreme pain. The other vet put the cow “to sleep” which the wife said to do since the husband was out baling fodder. The wife said that they’d been away to two weddings that week and also away for something else another day. It was then Friday afternoon and time to get the vet to check the cow. She had been a top cow, but wasn’t quite right for the last couple weeks since freshening. By the time their vet was called in, she lay near dead in her stall. That all could have been avoided by spending a few extra minutes checking her for a twisted stomach days earlier and also taking her temperature.

I always figure that whatever I already could do as a herdsman you, too, can do with your animals. I will always gladly teach you how to give I.V. fluids, infuse a uterus, listen for a twisted stomach and also for normal rumen sounds—if you want to learn how to do so. Taking the temperature of an animal is so simple that I need not elaborate on it. If nothing else, take the temperature of an animal that “doesn’t seem right”. A temperature above 102.5 (cow) or 101.5 (horse) will often put an animal off-feed. Fresh cows with fevers are a frequent finding. Then check the CMT and udder for mastitis, or suspect the uterus if there’s a foul odor and you’re not sure if she cleaned, or just watch the cow breathing and see if it’s more rapid and shallow than her stall mates. If you notice any of these signs, don’t simply wait a few days to see if she comes around. I say this because if she doesn’t come around, then potentially irreversible changes could’ve already taken place. This is especially true in mastitis and pneumonia. It doesn’t matter what approach you take, if a quarter stays swollen it will eventually lose some or most of its function due to the scarring that usually follows inflammation. In pneumonia, especially in a pen of coughing calves, there usually emerges a ‘sacrificial’ calf that is so far along in the disease that the lower lung lobes become hard and lose any functional capability. Permanent damage, if not a slow death over a few weeks, takes place.

In either case, carefully observing all your animals for a few moments without distraction at least once daily will go a long way to picking out an animal that’s just beginning a problem rather than one where even the strongest medicines fail to give an effect. It is when you notice an older cow about to freshen that seems a bit slow or ever-so-slightly wobbly that a tube of calcium works best—not when she only can try to rise but not quite get fully up. Or when a cow is straining and pushing and trying to calve but making no progress, that is the time to reach in and check for a twisted uterus or the calf not being positioned correctly. Also when a young calf doesn’t finish its bottle or isn’t as vigorous at the group feeder. That’s the time to actually hop in the pen and check the individual animal for evidence of a change in manure, or fever or increased respiratory effort. You must jump on problems early for an antibiotic or homeopathic or herbal remedy to have a chance to prove itself. It’s as simple as that.

I realize that you all don’t plan to call me unless there’s a serious problem. However, please do stay on top of you livestock health by taking the necessary time and energy to apply treatments of your choosing as early as possible when a problem occurs. (By the way, probiotics like Lactobacillus are not the cure to everything.) If you choose the right remedies, you will be successful. And I will always be happy to teach you appropriate techniques for your specific animals’ needs.





** FOR SALE **

Abram F. Lapp has heifers for sale. They have been raised organically, and bred by a bull. One Jersey/Holstein cross, two Holsteins, and one Lineback. Abram’s address is:

67 Long Lane, Kirkwood PA 17536.

For Bovinity Health, information on functional alternatives to antibiotics see:

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