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The Moo News

Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care                                                October 2001

Hi Folks!

            Becky and I are glad to say that we have found a place to call home. It’s a small 1750 stone house on 3 ½ acres just north of Bartville on Mt. Pleasant Rd. We are extremely thankful for this opportunity and look forward to be living among you all. It’s a change, and a welcome one, to which we’ve already been transitioning for a little while now.

            Speaking of changes and transitions, as we enter the autumn season, undoubtedly you are changing into using more cured feeds. As mentioned before, it takes about 2 weeks for the digestive system to adapt to new feeds. This is because the rumen bugs are adjusted to a certain feed intake and new feeds change rumen pH, which will kill some rumen bugs but enhance others. Fresh cows will have the hardest time, since they are adjusting to major milk production as well. Often, the worst offending material is bagged haylage. Any product (but especially bagged), if not ensiled correctly, will cause watery scours (diarrhea). To have cows adapt more easily, it is good to begin (or step up) feeding a probiotic product with various lactobacillus bugs. If a cow is already scouring, do not feed her any type of ensiled feed for 24-48 hours. Feed only grass or mixed grass/ alfalfa hay along with 2 cups of uncooked oats twice daily (with molasses). A pill or gel form of a probiotic is good too. Remove from pasture if scouring (the only time I am against a cow on pasture) Remember to make feed changes gradually or you will get upset rumens.

A product that I’ve had reasonably good success with is called “Ferro”, a tea-colored colloidal liquid mineral drench that has great astringent qualities along with an appreciable amount of iron. Tasting it will make your mouth pucker! Herbs that help digestion include peppermint, licorice and aloe. Homeopathic remedies will depend on the character of the animal and the scours, but if spoiled feed is suspected, then Arsenicum album is indicated. If the scours are somewhat slimy and perhaps a bit bloody, think of Merc corr. If effortless, dark green “pipestream” scours is noticed, think of Podophyllum.  If black, due to re-digested blood, think of Phosphorus.

            If spoiled feed (moldy, etc.) is the reason, check your cow’s temperature if she is scouring. (Place the thermometer in the vulva to get an accurate reading.) Fever and scours can indicate an infectious process like Salmonella, which can quickly effect others in the herd. Separate the suspect cows and keep them away from other farm animals to minimize the spreading of disease by shared water bowls and feed areas. Any area splattered with the manure should be sanitized with chlorox. Once an area is cleaned up, lay down limestone to change the pH which upsets the bad environmental bugs.

            Remember cows are the ultimate creatures of habit and any changes should be made very gradually. This will minimize “off-feed” animals and lost production.

 **TIP** Try not to breed many cows in Oct & Nov – they will calve in July & August

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

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