cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussions, July, 2017

July, 2017. A farmer was concerned about a calf who was off-feed, coughing and panting, and had the scours. It was suggested that, for a young calf, fighting off two conditions at the same time may be difficult. If the temperature is above 102.5, then it is likely pneumonia. If the calf is very young, it could also be a “Salmonella dublin” infection, which presents itself as pneumonia. One vet suggested the seriousness of the condition: “Pneumonia is a particularly distressing and dangerous disease. Quattracon 2X, Banamine and Amplimmune are all indicated. Get a vet involved.” Another vet offered advice on herbal solutions: if the temperature is sub- normal to slightly elevated, give Thyme and Eucalyptus leaves; if the temperature is very high, give Andrographis; give Horehound and Elecampane to help with combined digestive and respiratory issues.

Asking the group for ideas on how to limit the growth of bacteria and algae in stock tanks, a producer received many responses. Here are some of the suggestions: Put some barley straw in old pantyhose, and put it in the tank. Oxygenate the water to discourage algae growth with hydrogen peroxide or hypocalcium chlorinate, or have the input valve higher to splash down into the tank. Clean out the tanks and cycle the water more often. Add a few pennies or a run of copper in the water line; the copper helps keep the water clean. In larger tanks, some producers suggested the use of fish like goldfish, catfish, or trout; and it was suggested to limit sources of phosphorous running into a pond or large tank.

Sorghum-sudan, peal millet, and buckwheat. That was the mixture of warm-season annuals that one producer wanted to plant, and he asked about the seeding proportions. Another farmer said he had used a mixture of 35 lbs sorghum-sudan, 25 lbs buckwheat, and 5lbs red clover for several years with good success. Another farmer had very positive experiences mixing sorghum-sudan with millet.

Despite feeding free-choice kelp for its prevention, several animals still showed symptoms of pinkeye. Suggestions for treatment included: spray eye with a homeopathic Hypericum spray, and give Hypericum orally as well; mix honey with raw milk, and squirt on the eye twice a day; homeopathic Conium is used as an eye wash twice a day; and the eye flap suture procedure done by your vet.

There was an in-depth discussion about stray voltage on dairy farms, and how to keep electric fencers and their ground rods from setting up a charge on your water lines and barn equipment. To summarize, one farmer said that removing these electric charges comes down to 3 things: sizing the fence charger for your operation, adequate grounding, and understanding the magnetic field.

On sizing the charger, he said, “It pays to use the smallest charger that will get the job done for you. On my 250 acre grass farm in southern PA I used a 15 Joule charger and had constant "stray voltage" problems, including shock pulses on various surfaces in the dairy as well as "ticking" on the phone line. Today, I would use no more than a 6 - 8 Joule charger for that application. Keeping fences clean on organic farms is a challenge, but controlling fence charger currents can pay big dividends in production, reproduction, and general health of the animals.” He also mentioned that he had seen stray voltage on farms with solar fencers as well as AC fencers.

“Adequate grounding on the fence charger will greatly help to control unwanted spikes in all the wrong places…. Inadequate grounding will cause the spikes to "stray" elsewhere. A good rule of thumb is that even the smaller pasture chargers should have at least three 8-foot ground rods. One ground rod per joule is my recommendation. Use 8-foot ground rods spaced at 8-10 foot intervals and connected to the charger using a continuous #6 copper wire looped through the ground clamp on each rod and up to the charger.” A simple way to test how well your fencer is grounded is to create a "dead short" in the fencing system; lay a steel post across the fence. Then, touch the ground wire between the charger and the first ground rod to see if you feel anything. You should feel NOTHING on the ground wire. If you feel even the slightest "tickle", it indicates that you have just become another "ground rod" in the system and you need to install additional ground rods until this "tickle" disappears.

Whenever a fence charger generates a pulse, there is an electro-magnetic field that surrounds both the charger and the "hot" wire leaving the charger. This magnetic field can easily be measured outward from the "hot" wire 10 feet or more, sometimes much more depending on circumstances. This field will induce "stray" currents onto surrounding conductive surfaces...on steel, concrete, earth, animals, etc. So a few helpful hints: Never mount a fence charger on or near a conductive building (hoop building, steel siding). Do not place a charger in a livestock building where animals are confined nearby. Keep “hot” wires out of animal facilities, and stop those wires at least 8 feet from any conductive surface (steel, concrete, water troughs, etc). Non-conductive materials, like wood, should be used in those areas.