cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, July, 2014

In each issue of the NODPA News we include an article by NODPA President, Liz Bawden, where she summarizes two months of discussions on the informative and lively NODPA-Odairy Discussion List. This summary article includes a story about a calf with a knuckled under hoof, a cow with edema, another animal with poor appetite, one with a bladder infection and a group of calves with giardia, and more.

By Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Farmer, NODPA President

Added August 18, 2014. A producer relatively new to farming asked what to do with a newborn calf exhibiting a hoof, knuckled under. Vets responded that a calf can be born with contracted tendons, and that splinting the joint right away is critical. Without a splint, the joint can freeze in place resulting in a permanently lame animal. Place a small board behind the joint to keep it straight, and wrap it in place. Make sure the piece of wood does not dig into the ankle. If the calf does not want to get up on her own, stand her up a few times a day so that she uses the leg some. Homeopathic Calc fluor was also suggested.

A heifer calved with lots of edema, a hard quarter, and a poor appetite. After homeopathic treatment for mastitis, her condition was only somewhat improved. So the farmer cultured the quarter, and the report came back positive for A. pyogenes. One farmer experienced with pyogenes mastitis said they tried to keep the infected quarter stripped out, but the cow always lost that quarter for the rest of her life.

Another farmer added that the animals are infected during the dry period or as heifers, and there is no known cure. It was also added that A. pyogenes mastitis may be transmitted by flies, and is known to be more common in humid, summer weather.

A farmer asked for suggestions from the group regarding a cow that had signs of a bladder infection - he noticed straining, an enlarged bladder, and viscous urine. He had been treating her with Catharsis 30C twice a day and garlic tincture. Recommended homeopathics were:

  • Pulsatilla if she has mucous from anywhere, drinks less water than usual, and appears more comfortable outside in the open air.
  • Nux vomica if she appears to have muscle spasms, is more sensitive to light and noise, and strains a lot to pass urine.
  • Staphysagria if she has had a recent breeding or surgical intervention, frequent urging to pass urine but producing only small amounts, often tinged with blood.
  • Lycopodium if she appears to be worse late in the day, reddish sediment in urine.

Sepia is for the cow who has had lots of calves, and her internal tone is poor. Often she is a big, droopy animal with sloppy uterus and organs, or pendulous udder or belly. She is a bit grumpier than usual.

It was recommended that homeopathics be administered in a liquid form dropped slowly on the nose leather. And because a more serious kidney condition can result in a bladder infection that is not responding to treatment, another vet recommended a botanical mix. Into one bottle of dextrose, add 60 to 90cc of a mixture of garlic, goldenseal, ginseng, barberry, and oregon graperoot. Give this IV once a day for three days. Alternatively, you could give once as an IV, then 20 to 30 cc orally 2-3 times a day for the following three days.

A 5-month old steer was found laid out on his side after being fed armloads of lawn clippings. The steer bloated, and had to be relieved with a 10 guage needle. Another producer related his experience with the same circumstance - his calf died within 48 hours. His vet told him that a calf’s rumen simply cannot handle gaseous feed at that age. “Calf feed should consist of dry hay, grain, and baleage.”

Giardia was causing serious problems for one producer. All the calves became infected. They are using fenbendazole at three times the recommended dose with some success, although some calves relapse, and a few never completely clear up. It was suggested that he treat the calves with Ferro (orally for about 7 days) and address cleaning up the water source.

There was a great deal of discussion about using supplemental energy sources in grass-based (no-grain) herds. Some producers that have used molasses have found that there is a shortage in the supply chain, leaving farmers searching for alternatives. Several producers suggested Zook Molasses Company in Honey Brook, PA as a supplier of organic molasses blended with rice syrup. Other possible sources may be sorghum syrup, palm oil, rice syrup, rice bran or wheat bran oils, even bamboo. Alternatives are needed if the availability of cane molasses continues to be unreliable. “This is a real concern for the no-grain sector”.