cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, April 2010

Antibiotics for life threatening conditions, even if it risks organic status? Hairy heel warts. Lame cow treatments. Unequal twins born. Lice control. Cows love cabbage? Chicken manure on pasture. Lower ear swelling.

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Rep and Newsletter Co-Editor

Added April 2, 2010.

Recent discussions began with a question about hairy heel warts. Farmers and vets who weighed in on the subject were quick to point out that there is usually a nutritional component to the condition-- either acidosis from pushing too much grain or poor mineralization (or both together). The other factor is cows standing in slurry. One farmer had good success in addressing her outbreak with just increasing the mineral mix (Ca,P,Mg with Vitamins A, D, and E, and Selenium and Zinc) to 8 oz per head per day along with 4 oz of kelp and 2 oz of Desert Dynamin.

Another farmer told of wrapping the lamest cow’s feet with an IBA product called HoofMate; the cows experienced a good recovery if left on for 5 days. He also fed 4oz of kelp. A veterinarian uses a combination of an essential oil product like Prism from Crystal Creek mixed together with copper sulfate to form a paste, and applies it to the prepared area of the hoof with 4X4 piece of gauze; then the foot is wrapped. Another vet uses a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar to 20cc providone iodine before wrapping the foot. At another farm, the boron levels in the feed were increased to 45 to 60 ppm, and there hasn’t been any new cases of heel warts since. More farmers added their recommendations: one farmer used a product called Quickhit; another fed 1 tsp of copper sulfate and zinc sulfate per head per day along with free choice kelp; selenium levels were raised in the feed on another farm to control the problem.

Twin calves were born on a farm, and were both weak; one was paddling or “running” while lying down. One sucked vigorously, one did not. The farmer thought there might be some brain or nervous system damage. It was suggested they could be hypoglycemic, and should be fed 4 to 6 times a day to get the extra energy into them. It was also suggested that they get a shot of Vitamin E and Selenium as soon as possible. If there is no permanent damage, they should be improved in 3 to 4 days.

A producer was having a hard time controlling lice in a few cows that seemed unusually bothered by them. She had used a lice and mange wash, but the lice came back. She asked if there was a homeopathic remedy that might help. A vet suggested Staphysagria since she asked for a homeopathic remedy, but reminded us that sulphur is a good constitutional remedy for cows with skin problems. Elemental sulphur powder can be brushed in. Other suggestions were to bed the cows with cedar sawdust (the repellant nature of the cedar oil keeps the lice away), using preparations with essential oils, and repeating the lice and mange wash weekly until it seems under control.

Apparently, cows love cabbage! A vet had been called to treat a fresh cow who was off feed. The farmer produced some cabbage, and the cow ate it -- much to the surprise of the attending vet! The farmer said he often fed it to cows who were not eating as well as he’d like. Another producer added that he turns the cows into the cabbage at the end of the season, and they much prefer green cabbage over the red.

A producer noticed a steer had a significant swelling at the base of the animal’s ears, causing them to droop. It was suggested that he use homeopathic Apis 30C applied 2 to 3 times a day to relieve the swelling; a nasal mist was suggested. Another vet suggested mixing a few pellets with a jar of water, and dispensing an ounce of this mixture daily into the steer’s water.

A farmer was considering applying chicken manure on some of his pasture and hay ground, and asked for feedback from others who have tried this amendment. Most farmers agreed that it does make things grow! Several producers suggested that it be applied at a light rate, their recommendations were from 300 to 2000 pounds per acre; others suggested performing the appropriate tests to determine the spreading rate. If the manure must be stored for a while before application, it can be tarped to minimize nitrogen loss. Several farmers recommended that it be spread just before a rain, and one suggested incorporating it into the soil for best results. Some liked broiler litter since it has less N, so is less likely to burn plants. Others preferred the layer litter because it adds Ca. It should be spread with a lime spreader for best results; a standard manure spreader will lay it out too thick and potentially burn the plants.

A heifer was exhibiting the following symptoms: grinds her teeth, stands with her back humped up, refuses to lie down, her ears are hanging down, has a 103 degree fever, has some diarrhea, and was somewhat bloated in the AM. She will eat only oats and hay. The farmer suspected hardware, and gave a magnet. The symptoms point to peritonitis, according to a vet on the list. He suggested that antibiotics be given, as peritonitis is a life-threatening condition. This sparked an ethical discussion around the fate of the afflicted animal. A producer suggested that the animal should be immediately sent to slaughter; others thought it was a moral obligation to treat the animal to restore health, even though it meant the loss of organic status for the animal, and she would have to be shipped or sold anyway.