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Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care July 2005

Hi Folks,

Here's the A-Z of things to keep in mind (and get done!) to keep the cows and calves healthy while you are concentrating on making hay, cultivating corn, moving fences for pasture:
a) Have cows calve outside in pasture if possible. It is cleanest there - and very dry right now as well.
b) Never rush to get a calf extracted from a first calf heifer - never! You can shred the birth canal of the first calf heifer too easily by being impatient and wanting to yank the calf out. Don't do it. Let the head of the calf stay in the birth canal longer to let the first calf heifer expand so she won't rip. Remember, you just spent two years raising her.
c) Is the cow's tail somewhat extended and she is pushing but not progressing? Wash her vulva, wash your arm or wear an OB sleeve, lube up (dishwasher soap is OK if no actual lube), reach in, and feel around. Is there an "auger" feel to it as you reach further in? If so, a uterine torsion is likely. It is one of the most common calving problems. The cow cannot calve on her own when she has a twisted uterus. Call the vet. Do NOT just wait and see over a day or two - that is a big mistake, guaranteed.
d) Once calved in - did you check to see if there was a twin? Even if a relatively good size calf was just born - always check!!! Tip offs: a cow that is 1-3 weeks early, a relatively small calf, a cow that doesn't clean right away and a vet diagnosing her with twins. I had three cases this past month of having to remove a dead twin a few days after it should have come out. Obviously not good.
e) Get the cow to stand up fairly soon after calving. This lets you know if she actually can get up and it also helps keep the uterus in the belly rather than having it prolapse because the cow's rear end is slightly downgrade when she is low in calcium.
f) Always feed extra dry hay for a few days to any cow that has a difficult or assisted calving. g) Dip the calf's navel twice daily with an iodine solution until the umbilical cord dries up. This prevents infection, such as "joint ill" - a swollen knee or hock at a few weeks of age (incurable).
h) Make sure the calf got its colostrum within the first six hours of life. The gut rapidly closes down for the goodness of colostrum as time moves on. Two to four quarts is ideal.
i) Keep calves outdoors in hutches or kennels (both should have fencing for the calves to come out of the protected area).
j) Always give calves dry hay from day one. This will develop the muscles of the rumen the quickest. Also feed some grain as this will develop the absorptive capacity of the rumen the quickest. Both are needed for the ruminant - not one or the other!
k) Feed calves whole milk (preferably from cows identified to be free of Johnes disease) for three months. This will give the best body condition to the calves prior to the stress of weaning, guaranteed. Having the calves in good body condition, especially on the organic farms, is critical for the calves when they are placed out on pasture or wherever they will encounter stomach worms and the drain on the system from them.
l) Clip those pastures! This will allow uniform re-growth (when it rains) and rids the pasture of rank stemmy growth that pricks calves eyes and is the first step towards pinkeye. It is not too late to vaccinate for pinkeye with the single dose MaxiGard®. Most pinkeye begins to hit in force at the end of July through early September in southeast PA.
m) Feed your milkers dry hay before putting out to legume pasture as this will reduce pasture bloat. Put molasses on the hay to get them to eat it if needed.
n) Refer to last month's newsletter regarding parasites. Remember, a multi-prong approach will give the best results. Do not simply rely on one angle of attack to parasite problems - that will encourage quicker resistance.
o) Provide some sort of shade to your cows.
p) Always have adequate water available. Cows can drink between 10-30 gallons of water depending on season and part of lactation. I would think that many cows will be taking in 20-30 gallons daily during the present weather.
q) Do not have cows standing in streams as the water in them is not good for your cows' health and what your cows deposit in the streams is not healthy for the stream. Remember, you probably have neighbors upstream (possibly with cows in the stream) and you have neighbors downstream who would like a healthy stream as well. Single poly wire works nicely for stream bank fencing.
r) If your cows are standing around wanting to come into the barn, either let them into the barn or provide them with more pasture. Standing around with mouths hanging open from the heat does help milk production.
s) Make sure that laneways do not have sharp stones on the surface of submerged - these cause abscesses, alternatively they can lead to foot rot when they puncture a growth/corn between the toes.
t) Watch dry cows for any that do not seem right. It is highly possible to have a dry cow come down with "summer mastitis" - the quarter gets rock hard, the cow gets a fever, she looks depressed and there is a pudding like secretion with a horrible odor. These cows may abort, especially if not looked after. Call your vet since this is usually an animal that is systemically ill by the time it is noticed and will need fluids and other medicines.
u)To reduce dry cow mastitis, dip animals twice daily for two weeks after dry off and two weeks prior to freshening.
v) Make sure that your forages contain less than 2% potassium to prevent milk fever.
w) Give apple cider vinegar "2-2-2" two ounces twice daily for at least two weeks prior to freshening.
x) If you vaccinate animals, do not do it when it is predicted to be hazy, hot and humid. Cows temperatures peak in late afternoon and early evening and they can get a reaction.
y) A cow that is down during a very hot, humid weather could have heat stroke - takes it temperature!! If it is 107-108 degrees, hose down with water for at least 20-30 minutes. This is the most effective treatment for heat stroke there is.
z) Put the cows out on pasture at night, for sure - even if you are not a "grazier". This will allow the cows to roam around and cool down in the evening air. They will be happier and healthier.

NOTE: there will be a pasture walk at John S. Stoltzfus, 7643 Moscow Road, Parkesburg this Friday July 8th , 10am-2pm. John has changed his grazing management from earlier years. Cow comfort, body condition and milk production have noticeably improved. Come see for yourself! Agronomist Merlin Stoltzfus, nutritionist Carl Curtis, Extension agent Tim Beck and I will speak about agronomy, nutrition, economics and health on organic farms. Lunch will be provided and is sponsored by Cochranville Ag.

Future pasture walks:
July 21: Alvin J. Stoltzfus, 694 Country Lane, Paradise
Aug 11: Roman Stoltzfoos, 1143 Gap Rd., Kinzers
Aug 23: Amos S. Lapp, 68 Morrison Mill Rd., Kirkwood
Sept. 16: Levi S. Beiler, 405 Red Hill Rd., Narvon
Sept. 22: Levi J. Fisher, 160 Furnace Rd., Quarryville
Oct. 6: Rodney Martin, 5158 Forge Rd., Oxford

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

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