cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, November, 2009

Treating "Salmonella Scours;" remedies for coccidia in calves, liver failure, hair loss; and two cents on a wide range of other topics, from getting rid of algae on milking parlor floors to figuring out why butterfat tests dropped during summer months.

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Rep and Newsletter Co-Editor

Added November 10, 2009. The discussions began last month with a serious problem a farmer’s vet diagnosed as “Salmonella scours”. Most of the milking herd was experiencing some level of diarrhea, the cows were down in milk and losing body condition; one cow had already died.

Looking for some answers, it was noticed that his dry hay was a bit dusty, and there was mold on the baleage. The farmers hadn’t tested for mycotoxins, but that was the suspicion. It was suggested that he begin to feed a toxin-binder, like Desert Dynamin, immediately and follow up with a nutrition product like Hemocell. A veterinarian added that salmonella has classic symptoms -- bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea. If these symptoms are present, then treatment with an antitoxin should be done immediately. He mentioned that a “wait and see” approach usually leads to the loss of the animal. And be sure to have your vet diagnose the situation as these same symptoms can present themselves at the onset of a BVD outbreak.

The following treatment was recommended: pump the stomach with 5 to 7 gallons of water with gut protectants and toxin binders, like mineral oil and activated charcoal [check with your certifier to verify approved treatment options]. Feed only dry hay -- no ensiled feeds and no grazing; be aware that salmonella cows often will not eat. Give 250cc hyper immune plasma like BoviSera or PolySerum and 5cc Immunoboost. Then give an IV of 90cc strong antibacterial tincture added to a bottle of dextrose and 500cc of Vitamin C. Flunixin can be given to counteract the effects of the toxins. This treatment works well on salmonella, hot coliform mastitis, and in coliform scours in calves (obviously, you give less for the calves). Gives electrolytes if there is dehydration. Homeopathic remedies may help with the treatment - these include Arsenicum alb if the cow is chilly and sips water, especially if it was brought on by spoiled feed. Merc corr is indicated if there is bloody scours and ulcerations on mucous membranes, and Podophyllum if it is pipestream diarrhea. If this is a problem on your farm, there are vaccines that are effective in controlling salmonella, but they are genetically modified, so check with your certifier to see if they are allowed for your use.

“Nutrition is everything to cows!”, stated one producer. Mold in cattle feed compromises their abilities to digest and absorb their feed, and compromises their immune systems. Without being able to fight off problems, train wrecks can occur. He suggested if mycotoxins are a problem, feed MTB-100, a low inclusion rate absorber from Alltech. (A certifier weighed in on this and said the company now calls it “Integral OA”). It takes up less room in the ration than bentonite clay binders, and doesn’t bind vitamins or trace minerals.

A farmer needed suggestions for an effective remedy for coccidia in calves. One suggestion was feeding the calf dried oak leaves for a source of tannins; another was Ferro, rich in tannins and iron as well as other minerals. It works well on calves, but not on cows -- it is also used for stomach parasites. Another producer uses dried blackberry roots in the milk to prevent scours.

A farmer’s vet diagnosed a Jersey cow with liver failure. She treated the cow with milk thistle (6 capsules twice a day). The cow recovered, and there were some posts on clinical studies involving milk thistle for liver ailments.

A calf was losing patches of hair around its rump and backbone due to insect bites. One suggestion was to use lavender oil to sooth the skin and promote healing.

A producer has green and brown algae growing on the cement floor of the milk house and parlor. The cleaners remove it from the stainless steel surfaces, but not the floor. One suggestion was to keep the spots saturated with apple cider vinegar for several days, then scrub it. Another suggestion was to use pipeline acid with hot water.

On one farm, the butterfat test dropped off from 3.8% during the summer to 3.3% in September. One response noted that lowered butterfat tests go hand in hand with lowered rumen pH and increased polyunsaturated acids (PUFA’s to the nutritionists). Rumen pH can be lowered due to decreased fiber, more digestible fiber, or increased grain in the diet. Higher grain can also increase the PUFA’s, or a different grain source can have the same effect. And roasted soy will add more fat, which can reduce pH. Several producers responded that stage of lactation is important, as lots of fresh cows will make the butterfat tests go down.

One farmer was trying to figure out how much corn his corn crib held, and the responses pulled out the old rules-of-thumb. A good thing to remember: 2 bushels of wet ear corn in a crib weigh about 96 pounds and yield one bushel of shelled corn at about 56 pounds.

A farmer moved his young calves into group housing and has noticed some of them sucking on each other after being fed. It was suggested that if you feed warm water in the group feeder, they will suck there instead of on each other. Another producer suggested those pointy nose rings for the offending calves to break them of the habit before they get older.

Ever notice that the mice, raccoons, deer, etc like your open-pollinated corn better than your hybrid corn, or your neighbor’s GMO corn? Well, apparently, lots of us have had the same experience. OP corn is usually higher in protein and energy, and has the ability to take up trace minerals that hybrids no longer can. Obviously, the wildlife can tell the difference!