cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, April, 2014

Robust discussions about treating cows with a high SCC, Johnnes disease, and coccidiosis treatment.

By Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Farmer, NODPA President

Added April 7, 2014. A farmer asked the group for suggestions in treating cows with a high SCC, but they exhibited no swelling or other signs of mastitis. The cows were late lactation, and approaching dry off. The milk was cultured, and tested positive for environmental strep. The use of Phyto-Mast tubes at dry off was highly recommended by several producers. One protocol that was suggested combined the use of Phyto-Mast tubes with 50 ml injection of BiocelCBT, 50 ml of Vitamin C, and 10 ml of MuSe. Other suggestions included using a Lysigin vaccine twice a year, Immunoboost, free-choice kelp and humates during her dry period, Dr Sarah’s ABC Relief, pre-milking 2 to 3 weeks before she is due to freshen, and giving her an extra-long dry period. Homeopathic Silica 30C is classically given at dry-off to “reduce scarring, soften quarters, and for chronic bad discharges (like mastitis).” One vet suggested that a multi-potency remedy, called a homeochord, was more effective than a single strength remedy. Homeochords blend the original mother tincture with several strengths of homeopathic potencies.

A calf was born with its hooves knuckled under. It was recommended that they be fixed with a small splint on the back side, and wrapped in place to stretch the tendons into the proper shape. Homeopathic Calf fluor can also be administered. Nutritional factors can play a role -- it was suggested this condition may occur in calves if there is a selenium or vitamin C deficiency. Or there may be a persistent BVD infection in the herd.

A producer asked for general information about Johnne’s Disease. Several websites were given for background material on the disease. The vets that contributed all suggested that it is a management issue, specifically from imbalances in feeding. What we know is this: cows eating high-forage diets with minimal grain keep their pH in a healthier range, so that even if the cows are infected, they can keep symptoms at bay. It is especially important to give young calves access to hay/fiber, as they will satisfy their craving for fiber by eating bedding if hay is not available, thereby ingesting a host of germs, including Johnne’s Disease. Infected herds can consider a Johnne’s vaccine -- it’s just a “band-aid” solution until management changes can turn things around.

Coccidiosis was diagnosed in an otherwise healthy Holstein heifer at 6 weeks of age. Suggestions from other producers for treatments included Neematox from Agri-Dynamics and Calf Start from Dr. Paul’s Lab. Another producer recommended Crystal Creek products; she suggested Primary Care for younger calves and Pivot for older calves.

A farmer usually treats calves suffering from internal parasites with Pivot, probiotics, kelp, and TLC. But this winter, two of the affected calves didn’t bounce back, and she had to treat them with ivermectin. She asked the group about suggestions in follow-up care. It was suggested that a follow-up is generally not required after using the injectable form of ivermectin (the pour-on doesn’t work as well for internal parasites). It was also noted that ivermectin (Ivomec) kills dung beetles in the soil; moxidectin (Cydectin) is less harmful, and fenbendazole (Safeguard) is not considered harmful to dung beetles. The vet responding to the question said he preferred fenbendazole as he feels it is very effective and may have some action against coccidia, but noted that it is ineffective against stomach worms in the winter when they are hibernating in the stomach walls. Editor’s Note: Ivermectin is on the National List, allowed as an emergency wormer after other treatments have failed. Talk with your certifier before using another product as an emergency wormer to be sure they will allow them.