cows in field

Recent ODairy Discussions – July, 2022

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board Co-President

There was a discussion on the best course of action to take with a torn teat on a milking cow. A number of producers had suggestions for speeding the healing of the wound while still being able to milk out the quarter to avoid compounding the problem with mastitis. A vet suggested that if milk was coming out anywhere other that at the bottom, the teat should be stitched. Others suggested the use of Transpore surgical tape or KT tape to cover the wound. Homeopathic arnica was suggested as it will help to control the swelling. And a large bore inflation was suggested to accommodate the swollen teat while milking. Calendula salve was recommended.

A farmer in northern NY who lives off the grid asked the group about passive ventilation. Midsummer heat makes it “way too hot in the barn for the animals that choose to come in to get away from the flies during the day time.” Another producer suggested an overhanging gap at the peak of the roof (Penn state style) along with side opening windows or curtains to provide natural air convection even with little to no wind. Cupolas or chimneys with dampers were also suggested.

One farm was experiencing a large number of cases of pinkeye this year. While a case or two per year usually responds to a homeopathic nosode in the water, with wound spray in the affected eye, this year it is running through all cattle groups. One vet suggested that a culture would be very helpful because the outbreak could be complicated by mycoplasma or IBR. He reminded us that factors in a pinkeye outbreak include flies, dust, lack of shade, and low trace minerals like selenium and copper.

Another vet laid out the following strategy for treatment: “If caught early (just “weepy and sleepy” looking), any spray can be useful if applied a few times a day and the animals are kept in the dark. Definitely no exposure to continued sun. An eye patch can be helpful but isn’t really a treatment, per se. In general, pinkeye will take about 3 weeks to go away. Keep animals in the dark. 95% of animals will simply have a small white dash, a telltale mark of having had pinkeye. The other 5% will have a ruptured eye or may have an enormous bulging eye, permanently.” At this early stage, the vaccine can be useful; it can stop a case pretty well.

“Once the eye starts squinting (indicating intense pain), spraying the eyes is a waste of time and not helpful. Then there needs to be more aggressive intervention, such as having a vet inject about 1-2 ml of BoviSera (antibodies against gram-negative bugs like pinkeye) under the first layer of the eye; can use 1-2 cc of milk as an alternative. Restraint is needed, both physical and chemical (xylazine, butorphanol and lidocaine are all allowed as needed). That procedure can be quite helpful. Another once and done procedure is having a vet sew the third eyelid (nictitans) across the eyeball itself to the far side and then stitching the eyelids shut. Sutures dissolve around 10-12 days; very effective. None of this takes a veterinarian that knows organics. Any bovine vet can do this.

MultiMin was recommended along with Vitamin A. Some people put iodine in the water. One farmer highly recommended his Fly-Vac, calling it a miracle worker. “That and using Cedar-cide oil mixed with some iodine and sprayed on cows’ backs and legs have rounded out our fly program. It was getting pretty bad with fly bite dermatitis until the FlyVac was installed. It took a solid week of training to get them to go through the FlyVac.”

A homeopathic vet weighed in to suggest that individual prescribing is often the way to go: “Painting with a broad brush, those ugly, ulcerated, super painful, look-like-they-are going-to-dissolve, liquefying eyes will often respond to repeated doses of homeopathic Mercurius. Dose the cow, not the eye. You can couple that with some euphrasia tincture *diluted in water* and applied to the eye, or some calendula tincture *diluted in water* and applied to the eye, or some calendula and hypericum tincture (50 / 50) *diluted in water* and applied to the eye.”