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The Moo News

Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care                                                     May 2001

Hi Folks,

            Spring is here, the grass is finally growing and the scent of flowers is in the air. Everything is growing- pastures, calves, and worms, too. Worm populations are exploding now with the warm, humid air. Many worms are emerging from the stomach walls of youngstock and adult cows. Youngstock with manure plastered on their hindquarters, rougher hair coats and a potbelly appearance are most likely infested. Growth can be stunted or worse – they may be so weakened by parasitism that their immune systems are overburdened and not be able to fight off other common problems. Now is the time to worm and again 3 weeks later to reduce loading of pastures for the rest of the season. If you don’t worm for whatever reason, make sure you clip your pastures to splatter out manure paddies, to expose the worm larva to the drying effects of sun and wind. This will also give uniform re-growth. Also keep animals off a paddock 3 weeks before putting them back on as worm larva need to be re-ingested by then to complete their life-cycle in the animal. And never have youngstock follow adults thru paddocks as adults can live in balance with the worms they shed, but will infect youngstock. Immunity to worms usually becomes effective at about 18 months of age.

            Baby calves abound right now, too. In general, hutches are an important way to reduce disease (if not nursing on cows). Penned calves within the barn are most likely to come down with problems like scours and pneumonia. Some tips on calf rearing:

 (1) A calf MUST have at least ½-1 gallon colostrum in the first 6 hours of life. Their entire immune system depends on this for the first 2-3 months of life until they begin making their own antibodies. (2) Do not keep calves near any manure storage areas. I’ve definitely seen many cases of scours (coliform, salmonella) due to close proximity to manure. (3) Have clean water available – clean out individual buckets daily – scum builds up quicker in warm weather. (4) When cleaning out pens or hutches, lay down lime (Barn-grip) to dry out the ground surface for a few hours and to alter the pH before re-bedding and stocking. (5) At the first sign of a calf scouring, take off milk and give electrolytes (Re-Sorb), chamomile tea or a homemade mix. An alert farmer was giving a mix of 8 tbsp. honey, 2 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. salt in a gallon of water when I arrived. The calves were sucking it down. (6) If a calf can still suck, there is a good chance it will make it. If it does not suck or does so weakly, it must be tube-fed immediately as calves dehydrate rapidly (sunken eyes, acidotic). I will gladly show you how to tube feed a calf.

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

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