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Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care February 2007

Hi Folks,

As it is winter farm meeting time, I thought I'd go over some things I go over in case I don't see you at any of the local meetings going on right about now. A new section of I have added to my talks are the case studies. This is where I discuss cases in some detail, including the first phone conversation to come see the cow or calf, my visual observations and physical examination, discussion of possible causes of the problem and treatment plans specific to the organic sector. As I have been preparing the cases I have come to realize that I rely on the same basic approach to infectious disease when working with certified organic animals. I will discuss this a little further on. It really is not rocket science, nor does it include strange sounding medicines or methods.

However, for any natural treatment to work it must be emphasized that EARLY detection of problems and EARLY action to remedy the problems (with appropriate medication) is critical to a successful outcome. Additionally, in the organic realm, manual labor is increased due to the necessity of having to dose the sick animal sometimes 3-4 times daily for natural therapy to be effective. Another point is that the basics of good management are critical to the animal's ability to bounce back, essentially having the animal relying on its immune system. The basics include a background of good nutrition, dry bedding and fresh air. With the basics covered, we can than administer (1) biologics to quickly stimulate the immune system (2) antibacterial plant medicines and (3) fluid/electrolyte supportive therapy. By doing these steps, the vast majority of cases can be cleared up that I see clinically as a veterinarian. Keep in mind that when using natural treatments, the treatment response time is usually slower than when using antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. It is critical to closely observe the patient(s) during the treatment days to watch for any signs that the condition is worsening and requiring other treatment.

And it should be said that certain conditions really truly need antibiotics. One comes to mind immediately: peritonitis (pronounced pear-it-o-night-us), which is a generalized abdominal infection. In this condition the intestinal loops become "glued together" due to the inflammation and death is a likely outcome (as it was in the old days prior to antibiotics) One example of a procedure that can easily lead to peritonitis is C-section because of high likelihood of uterine contents or simple barn dirt spilling into the abdomen while doing the surgery. And if someone says well that's the way Caesar was born, that is correct, but we never heard whatever became of his mother (likely peritonitis).

With all this in mind, a certain combination sequence of medicine seems to work well for me as a veterinarian in conditions recognized and treated early in animals that were in good shape just prior to the onset of illness. As mentioned above, the idea is to rely on immune stimulants or immune additives, antibacterials and other supportive measures.

Here is a fairly typical case that I may be called for on any given day by a certified organic dairy farmer: A cow is fresh 10 days, slow to eat and reduced milk. She had been milking nearly 60 pounds and had been eating well. She had a normal calving needing a little assistance and didn't clean (didn't pass the placenta) until 2 days after calving. The farmer had given her some extra dry hay in the first few days (always a good thing to do!) and gave her some probiotic pills a couple of days ago.

Upon examination I find that she has a fever of 103.6, increased heart rate, lungs are a little raspy (not clear as they should be), her rumen is slow but moving, there is no twisted stomach but her lower gut is slow, her uterus has a mild uterine infection, and the udder has an obviously swollen quarter (but not rock hard) with thin, dilute milk showing a strong reaction to the purple CMT liquid on the paddle. She is mildly ketotic. She stands with a humped back and keeps her head down. She is bright and alert, eyes and nose appear moist and ears are somewhat cool. She is a 6th lactation cow.

Certain things come to mind with this cow for me: mastitis (early coliform?), the uterine infection (metritis), humped back and head down (hardware?), slow rumen and lower gut (low calcium) and ketosis. Is the fever due to the sub-clinical mastitis, hardware or uterine infection? Or all three?

Regardless of the bacteria involved, I have realized I treat organic cows with infections pretty much the same way these days. For this particular case (which has three different possible causes), I will use a bottle of dextrose (for ketosis), add 90cc of my herbal "antibiotic" tincture called PhytoBiotic (with garlic as a basis), 2 bottles of vitamin C (as an antioxidant) to help the immune system, and hyper-immune plasma or BoviSera/PolySerum as a source of passive antibodies (against possible coliform mastitis) as well as 1 gram of iodine (antiseptic) into the uterus. A magnet should be given for the possible hardware. Follow up would be using 15-20cc of PhytoBiotic tincture 3 times daily for 3-4 days, 1 gram iodine every 36-48 hours and one dose of BoviSera again in 24 hours. I would also use the PhytoMast mastitis tubes (botanical antiseptic) in the quarter for 4 milkings in a row.

This may sound like a lot of treatments and medicines. In reality, it is not that much to do. Remember, natural treatments are more labor intensive. However, when you start seeing animals recover from acute illness with natural treatments, the feeling of success is uplifting, encouraging and invigorating.

NOTICE: 4 Jersey bulls for sale. One is by Rock Ella Paramount out of a top producer. All grass fed and in good condition - 400 lbs to 800 lbs. Call Penny Piersol at 717-354-6962 (home) or 610-637-9958 (cell)


For Bovinity Health, information on functional alternatives to antibiotics see:

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