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Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care February 2006

Hi Folks,

As you read this, I may be away giving talks to farmers and veterinarians in other parts of the country. While I truly wish I could have a helper who could work exactly like I do, there just aren't any veterinarians "out-in-the-trenches" available like that. I am very thankful that Dr. Kelly is usually available to cover for emergencies and that Dr. McCabe helps every other Wednesday (and I've gotten good reports about her!). Additionally, I've always been glad that Dr. McCahon has been helpful in the past. However, there still remains too large a gap regarding veterinarians knowing about how to work with natural treatments and especially working with organic dairy cattle to the farmer's satisfaction. Due to these kinds of needs across the country, my professional life is changing as I endeavor to concentrate more on internal medicine suitable and acceptable for certified organic livestock production and also to teach other interested professionals about this realm.

Therefore, as I need to concentrate on alternative medicines, I will no longer be doing some of the typical things that all veterinarians are capable of doing. The first is that I will no longer be doing twisted stomach surgery (DA surgery) unless the twist is found at a time when other veterinarians are not available for this procedure. Therefore, if I happen to find a twist at 10am in the morning, I will respectfully decline to do it and you will need to arrange for a different veterinarian to do the procedure. Most vets love to do these by the way. However, if it is in the evening or on the weekend and it is a right-sided twist that must be done right then for the animal's welfare, then I will gladly do it. But, simple "routine" left-sided twists that are found during normal hours will be referred to other more interested vets (Dr. Kelly, Smoketown, etc.).

Additionally, dehorning, which truly does not need a veterinarian to carry out, will be left to the farmer to do. I will be happy to show you how to do it when you get a small burner dehorner as I have used in the past. Most of you already do this on your own. Those little burners cost about $95 and can easily be shared by two farmers living next door to each other.

These changes are to let me further concentrate on natural treatments and also to hopefully carry out clinical studies on the following conditions: mastitis, metritis (uterine infections), infertility, pneumonia, calf scours, hoof problems, pink eye and other conditions that can be approached by medical techniques.

While I apologize in advance if this does not fit your idea of what a veterinarian should do, I feel compelled to follow this path as there has been an increasing interest by many farmers and veterinarians around the country. I routinely get a few questions from vets in other states every week. As an example, of 750 dairy veterinarians that I sent a survey to in December, 170 responded (about 22%) and of them about 160 are interested in learning more about how to use natural treatments for the conditions I listed above. I really didn't expect more than about 30 responses, so with more than 150 responses, this alerts me to the fact that Lancaster County and its organic farms are not an isolated circumstance. Prior to the survey, I thought most dairy vets had absolutely no interest in these kinds of treatments, but it is obvious I was wrong. I have yet another 750 large animal veterinarians to survey in the next couple months (those that do all kinds of farm animals, not just dairy). While my treatment of your cows with natural treatments will hopefully improve over time, at various times I will simply not be available while I help others understand this interesting aspect of treating dairy cattle. I truly hope to have more reliable coverage as time goes on, but I unfortunately cannot guarantee that at this time. I hope you will understand my perspective and that I truly do not want to leave you "hanging" , but also rest assured that most emergencies are calvings or other odd happenings that any veterinarian can do.

While it has been a really bad pneumonia season with all the damp and chilly weather, I have written about it so much in other Moo News letters that I won't again, except to say - dry bedding and fresh air is critical to preventing it and helping animals recover from it. Hutches are the best housing for young stock and then move them onto bigger outdoors group hutches - do not ever have young stock within the same walls as adult cows - at least with the numbers of animals we have on farms these days (compared to "the old days" of great-grandpa who had less total animals)

So, what to write about......my daughter, Emily, just blurted out "Daddy, why don't you write about cows with tummy aches!" Good idea, Em!

In my experience, most cows with primary digestive disturbances are due to problems with ensiled feeds (of any sort). While any ensiled feed that is perfectly cured is fine to feed dairy cows, corn silage that has any color mold is not good nor is baleage out of an ag-bag that has molds. So, in short, it is molds being in the ensiled feed that cause serious problems. While dry hay may be dusty and not particularly tasty to the cow and be of low nutritional content, ensiled feeds that have molds are much more dangerous. This is especially true if you all of a sudden open up a silo or ag-bag and start to feed it heavily, even though you see some molds. To buffer your cows, always increase your dry hay in the ration when you are going through a feed change. This should be done for about 5-7 days. Simple sodium bicarb will not buffer as well as dry hay. This is because the dry hay will give a good fiber mat in the rumen which also enhances the cows' cud chewing which of course gives bicarb. However, the dry hay also promotes many beneficial microbes in the rumen which will help to reduce the negative impacts of questionable ensiled feeds. However, sometimes, you will still need to add some kind of binder that adsorbs those mold toxins so the animal does not absorb them. There are many commercially available, so please ask your nutritionist. The product that a lot of people like is Dyna-Min that Agri-Dynamics carries (610-250-9280). Most have some kind of bentonite clay and shouldn't be fed continuously as they will also bind good nutrients and rob the animal over time. Dyna-Min provides nutrients while adsorbing toxins - a truly valuable product for long-term use if needed. (Dyna-Min is OK for organics). Most of the time a cow will scour out when there is bad feed, usually a watery blast out of scours for a day or two. They will then begin to eat again. Anytime a cow is off-feed, offer your best grassy hay and if she eats that, then that is her best medicine. You can add in the probiotic of your choice (Dyna-Vites by Agri-Dynamics are very popular).

Amos M Lapp, 243 Hershey Church Rd, is selling his herd of certified organic cows. Holsteins and Holstein-Jersey mixes. His number is 717-768-8423

Ben M Stoltzfus has a 3 year old Jersey bull for sale. He is a proven breeder and not mean. His number is 717-768-3437

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

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