cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, August, 2015

By Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Farmer, NODPA President

Added August 18, 2015. farmer asked the group for some suggestions about a 6-year old cow he called a “hard keeper’. She is thin, has a rough hair coat, and has had loose, dark manure all her life. The farmer has tested her for Johnes’ disease and worms. She was healthy as a calf, but the farmer wondered if she could have picked up a load of gravel from a new laneway that was constructed in the pasture when she was a heifer. A vet confirmed that it was possible to have gravel lodged in her GI tract. An ultrasound would probably be able to pick it up. Other possibilities were identified that could lead to her condition including poor nutrition, incorrect mineral balance, various diseases like BVD, internal parasitism, pneumonia, septic metritis, poor digestion, malabsorption, and many others. It was suggested that a physical exam and environmental evaluation could sort it out.

One producer had shipping fever trouble. New cows were brought into a herd, and one cow died from pneumonia within 10 days. The producer asked what course of action to take to prevent more illness. It was recommended that he immediately vaccinate all animals in the herd (all ages and stages of lactation) with the intranasal vaccine Inforce-3. It works fast, and should prevent the spread of the disease. Ideally, it should have been given to the animals before co-mingling. Fresh air and dry bedding are also required.
Looking for suggestions for an electric fence energizer, a farmer asked the group for suggestions. Two producers highly recommended the Cyclops fencers; another recommended the Stafix 15 joule fencer.

An udder sore appeared between the front quarters of a fresh cow. The farmer asked what the best course of treatment would be. Suggestions included: Shave the area and scrub with iodine, then apply corn starch with yarrow and goldenseal powder added. Another producer used Teat Healant from Steuart Labs until healed. Two other farmers suggested apple cider vinegar rubbed on twice a day; they both said this treatment works every time.

A farmer with triticale fields asked why about 10% of the grain head stems are a foot or so taller than the rest. Other farmers speculated that since the seed was VNS (variety not stated), different varieties may have been represented. It was resolved that there was a bit of rye that came in the seed. Apparently, this may be common; others farmers reported this in their triticale as well.

Liz farms with her husband and son in Hammond, NY. You can reach Liz by phone or email: