cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, May, 2016

A farmer new to grazing asked how to group his herd of 45 cows with a service bull while outside and on pasture. One producer advised him to keep his cows in two groups. The high production group would consist of fresh and high-producing cows and any heifers that he would want to AI breed. The low production group would consist of cows halfway through their lactation, having been AI bred at least twice. The bull would be kept in that group. Young bulls not ready to serve would be put on pasture with the group of dry cows and bred heifers. Heifers too young to breed must be pastured far away from the bulls. And several producers reminded him that as soon as a bull begins to act aggressive in any way, ship him as soon as possible.

A producer was frustrated by two cows with recurrent mastitis. About every 2 weeks, the affected quarters flare up with thick, clotty milk. Milk samples sent to a lab came back each time as negative. It was suggested that she be certain the lab was testing for Mycoplasm and Staph aureus.

Another producer was concerned by mastitis in a fresh cow. He sent a sample off to be cultured, and was stripping frequently and giving mineral supplements. Another producer advised him to “up her energy, up her immune system”; she recommended giving garlic tincture, aloe pellets, Power Bolus, and molasses. Another producer recommended treating the cow with 30cc of Yellow Jacket (from Synergy Animal Products) twice a day for two days for mastitis, along with Dynamint rubbed on the quarter. Over the course of the discussion, the cow went from clots of milk to a watery substance, to a meager amount of clear liquid. At this point, since the cow was eating and feeling fine, it was suggested that quarter was done, and she should be treated as a 3-titter.

There was a great deal of discussion about the proposed animal welfare rule last month. Producers are worried about soil and water health where the proposed rule specifies that animals have access to soil in the non-grazing season. And, they are concerned about the way that the rule specifies animal housing. Several producers shared their stories of the laneways and concrete barnyards that got the cows out of extreme muddy conditions. One producer built laneways by digging out 6 inches of soil and spreading it on either side. Geotextile fabric was laid down, and 12 inches of gravel was laid on top. The gravel was packed hard with a road roller to make a crowned, smooth surface; and the soil was graded up to the gravel on each side. Other producers built laneways essentially the same way, but added surepack or stone dust on top of the gravel. It packs well, and helps the gravel stay put better, even after heavy rains. Several farmers mentioned that the NRCS offers help and guidelines to construct lanes and yards, and there are some cost-share programs that are available.

A heifer lost her vision in one eye last year, and it still appears very swollen and often drips. A vet replied that the animal was probably suffering from glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye) or panophthalmitis (an infection of the globe). Both are painful conditions, so he recommended the farmer contact his local vet to perform surgery to remove the eye.

Liz farms with her husband and son in Hammond, NY. You can reach Liz by phone or email: 315-324-6926,