cows in field

Recent ODairy Discussions, March 2019

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board President

Liz Bawden, NODPA Board President

It’s an odd time of year to see an animal in the herd with symptoms of pink eye, but that is what one farmer faced last month. To make matters much worse, the afflicted cow was already blind in her other eye. A producer suggested that she could have poked her eye on a piece of coarse hay, and others suggested that it might be a form of cancer or another eye condition. Veterinary assistance was recommended to diagnose the problem, and to treat if possible. If diagnosed as pink eye, one vet suggested a sub-corneal injection of milk or Bovi-Sera, administered with appropriate anesthesia and restraint. Another producer suggested that her Vitamin A levels might be low, and another suggested checking her copper and iodine levels. Farmers recommended homeopathic remedies appropriate for the individual cow sprayed directly in the affected eye. It was also recommended to check Vitamin E and selenium levels, feed kelp and aloe pellets, keep the bedding clean and fresh, and reduce stress.

A farmer asked the group what was an allowed treatment for mild ketosis that would work with a single dose. The old standby, propylene glycol, has been added to the national list of products approved for organic use. A discussion followed where some farmers and a vet believed a glycerine-based product is better for the cow’s system. Ketonic from Agri-Dynamics was recommended as it also has herbs to enhance liver function. Another farmer noted that propylene glycol has NOT been approved for organic use in Canada.

Farmers discussed their use of polled genetics to avoid the necessity of dehorning young calves. Some felt that they lost some milk production and saw reproduction problems in the polled offspring; others felt that the polled genetics have greatly improved over the last 10 years and there was no reason not to choose polled sires when using artificial breeding. There was a mixture of opinions on dehorning in general. One farmer never dehorned, and said he did not have any injuries; others shared their experiences with serious injuries in cattle resulting from conflicts with horned herd mates. One farmer shared this method of dehorning large horns: “clip the hair off where the horn meets the head and then put on one of the extra-large castrator bands as close to the bottom of the horn as possible. In 2-3 weeks, the horn falls off. Best technique we've found for when we do need to take off a full-grown horn. Soaking the band in hot water before putting it on the XL castrator bander is a help.”

A veterinarian was consulting with a farmer about managing an outbreak of Step ag in his organic herd. He asked the group if anyone had experience using an autogenous vaccine (vaccine made from the individual’s disease organism). Another vet responded that a homeopathic nosode from the herd's own milk could be easily made and then administered orally. He suggested stimulating the immune system with a sub-Q injection of Amplimune, wait 4 days and then give an extended botanical treatment like Phyto-Mast. Impro products, specific for Strep ag, were also recommended. Addison Labs in Missouri was suggested for autogenous vaccine.