cows in field

Recent ODairy Discussions – November, 2022

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board Co-President

Back in the early fall, a producer asked the group about their experience using Pyganic as a fly spray. Another producer offered these tips: “Pyganic, (or its cheaper sister, Evergreen Pyrethrin Concentrate 5.0, from the same company,) can be used as a fine mist knock-down spray at the rate of 1 oz./gallon. Most of the Organic farmers around here mix it with the essential oil-based Fertrell Fly-Aside, for more residual repellency on the pasture.” He noted that Pyganic breaks down rapidly in sunlight, so by itself offers very little in residual effect.

At just a few weeks of age, a calf exhibited bloat every day. Dosing with Epsom salts did not help. The gas had to be removed with a stomach tube or needle into her swollen side each day. Two vets on the list offered the following suggestions: Make sure the calf is drinking her milk at udder height so that the milk doesn’t go into the immature rumen where it can cause bloat. It was suggested to give 15 to 20 ml of olive oil 2-3 times daily to act as a laxative. Homeopathic Nux vomica can be given to help stimulate movement in the GI tract, and if there is bloat present, Carbo veg can be given. It was also suggested that Fennel seed is a great carminative. If the bloat is from poor rumen motility, also add in astragalus, ginseng, and orange peel. But if it’s from an omasum blockage, honey is the best lubricant. Or if there is pain from abomasal ulcers, add calendula.

A farmer was not impressed with the effectiveness of his calf weaning rings, or with the comfort to the calf. One producer shared that he had good success with the orange-colored plastic paddle devices. Another producer shared his favorite solution: use a bull ring and put three pieces of chain on it each three links long, using the standard size for neck chain.

With his barns full, a producer asked the group if wrapping his remaining dry hay in plastic would keep it better through the winter. Several farmers said they regularly wrap dry hay due to a lack of storage, and that the practice works well for them although the bales sometimes have a slight fermented smell. One farmer guessed that the right moisture would be about 12 to 15%, another suggested that net-wrapped bales shed water far better and have less spoilage than twine-wrapped bales.

Looking to reseed some pastures, a producer asked about others’ experiences with Festulolium. A producer from Central New York and one from Wisconsin both said it was high quality feed and very palatable, but not reliably winter hardy. In some locations that receive an early and constant snow cover, it will persist longer.

A mid-lactation Jersey cow had been down for 10 days before this farmer found our ODairy community. Her vet had diagnosed the cow with milk fever, but she was not responding well to the CMPK treatments. A vet on the list suggested that she use BoviKalc boluses for an oral calcium source and have her local vet reach in to rule out lymphoma. Another farmer suggested that this may be grass tetany (a magnesium deficiency) since the cow wasn’t responding well. He added, “Cows with a blood magnesium deficiency are slow to respond to treatment often taking several days before they can get up again.” The suggested treatment for grass tetany was CMPK given IV followed with Magnesium oxide (“pink pills”). All the participants in the discussion encouraged the farmer to keep treating her and be patient; one vet said, “If she’s fairly content, eating and drinking and chewing her cud (even once in a while) and without evidence of any other catastrophic injury, carry on. My patience and that of the cow often is longer than that of the farmer. If she’s the same or improving, carry on. If she’s declining, reassess.” The farmer was happy to report that the cow was up and mostly back to normal 16 days after she went down.