cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussions, May, 2020

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board Co-President

A producer was looking for an effective treatment for mange in his dairy herd. One farmer recommended Dr. Paul’s Delice and Mange Spray, and suggested that the farmer feed an adequate amount of kelp to his herd. He felt that the “resulting hair coat shine (from the kelp), resulting from oils secreted by the hair follicles, creates a not-so-friendly environment for these critters.”

Others suggested dusting the affected animals with organic tobacco dust, gently working it in to contact the skin. A vet reminded us that there are “three types of "mange" in dairy cattle: chorioptic ("barn itch"), demodectic and sarcoptic ("scabies"). Sarcoptic is the most serious as it is transmissible to other animals, including people.” He suggested a pyrethrin product like Pyganic as an organic therapy.

Frustrated with a cow nursing from other cows, a farmer turned to the group for ideas and suggestions. Several others have had the problem with individual cows in the past, especially those that raise calves on nurse cows. For some, those plastic nose pieces with the spikes worked. For more insistent animals, one farmer passed along this great suggestion: “The only thing I have found that works is to use a bull ring with 3 pieces of chain each three links long. When the cow goes to nurse the chain falls in her mouth and she pulls on the nose ring. But she can still graze without any issues.”

A farmer posted pictures of a cow with a large, deep lesion that she had been treating for a week already with CEG tincture, homeopathic Hypericum and Arnica montana, and scrubbing the wound with betadine diluted in water then packing with wound spray covered gauze and more dry gauze. She asked if she should be using anything else. A vet suggested that she should have probably had the wound looked at and perhaps stitched a week ago, but that at this point keeping it clean is critical. He also suggested using some type of spray-on emollient several times a day to keep the flesh moist to help it heal.

A small grass-fed dairy was having problems with their freeze point, or cryoscope reading. It was sometimes less than .530, a red flag for added water in the milk. This farmer was asking the group for suggestions since he had been through his barn looking for low spots in the pipeline, and never added water to the tank by chasing the milk out with rinse water. He had used a consultant that found a correlation on his farm between high MUN levels and his low freeze point readings. A grazing specialist responded that she had seen this issue on many grazing farms in the early spring, when MUN’s can be very high. Some recent research has shown that lush spring grass in the diet can cause the freeze point to go down.

In aiding one producer in his decision to spread lime (or not) on his farm, producers chimed in with their experiences. He asked if there was a reasonable return on the investment; all producers that responded felt that lime can add significant value. But it depends on what you have to begin with. According to one farmer, your results will be based on many factors:

* Initial ‘landscape’ and need (do soil tests indicate need / deficiency?).

*Other underlying conditions, such as the need for improved soil drainage.

* Timing and Dose - how/when the lime is applied, how much per acre, and the type of lime used (high cal vs. dolomitic)

*Follow-up management - subsequent crops/rotations, other soil health/microbial diversity practices, pasture management etc.

“Lime, of course, adds calcium, but by raising pH, it changes plant availability of most other mineral nutrients - which can be great in some cases, but may tie up other nutrients ‘locally’ if too much lime is applied at one time, or if calcium isn’t actually deficient. We have often gotten better results using gypsum (Calcium sulfate) rather than lime (calcium-magnesium carbonate) because our magnesium levels are natively high, and our sulfur levels are low. Bottom line – it’s complicated, and results can be very ‘local’ depending on many other variables.”