cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, August 2009

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Rep and Newsletter Co-Editor

Added August 1, 2009. The dark undercurrent of many discussion threads brought the feeling that the organic stability we have enjoyed is being eroded. OV farmers received their production quotas in early June. HP Hood’s farmers expressed their fears regarding the new pay price policies, which will have unknown effects on farmers’ bottom lines. . And some other farmers revealed to the group that they have recently received termination notices from Horizon/Dean Foods. These are painful times for those producers that have lost their market, and many others expressed their support.

Several farmers discussed different methods they preferred to use to measure individual somatic cell counts for farms not using DHI services. One farmer loved the DeLaval somatic cell machine, and credits it with helping him to maintain a low SCC. Another producer routinely uses a strip cup, CMT kit, and a quarter milker to remove milk from the line that tests high. Color indicator cards were used by one producer with some success, but she felt that she was missing some cows. One producer raved about their Mas-DTec, which measures conductivity of the milk, but another producer thought it was too expensive, and the numbers did not match with the SCC counts from their lab tests. Another producer loved the Porta-Check, although she mentioned that the strips must be purchased, and can be out-dated if not used quickly enough.

A farmer had a cow with an early case of coliform mastitis. A veterinarian suggested that if it is caught early enough, it does not have to mean the end of the line for that animal. He proposed the following treatment: give 250-300cc hyperimmume plasma (BoviSera or PolySerum) under the skin, 5cc Immunoboost, 90cc Phytobiotic (garlic, ginseng, goldenseal, barberry, Oregon graperoot mix or some other strong antibacterial botanical mix), 200-500cc Vitamin C with calcium and hypertonic saline. Banamine may be added to the IV to make the animal more comfortable. Do this once as soon as possible. Then follow up with a strong plant-based antibacterial tincture 15cc orally three times a day. Strip the affected quarter frequently and apply a lotion containing peppermint oil. For herds with a history of coliform mastitis, it was recommended to use J Vac one week prior to dry off, following the directions after that.

A farmer had a cow that was overdue. Another producer suggested putting the milker on her, as he has found that it will stimulate the cow to have the calf.

A long discussion began when a researcher made some broad statements that her research indicated that high-producing cows under conventional, high-production models were more environmentally sound than smaller, organic operations that did not push for production. There was a great discussion, and some wonderful points were put forward by several respondents. Most pointed out how studies critical of organic farming often have inaccurate assumptions at the outset.

A producer asked for suggestions with a calf scours problem. Another farmer suggested a protocol including feeding electolytes at noon (she used 4 oz Pectilyte from Bio-Vet in 2 qts warm water with
some vitamin powder and 10cc Neema-Tox from Agri-Dynamics). She suggested the use of a microbial paste, and depending on the severity, administering Agri-Dynamics Super Start Calf bolus, 30cc Impro Environ 2 & 3, 6cc Vitamin B, 15cc Vitamin C, 6cc Vitamin ADE, or 3cc Immunoboost.

Some farmers discussed the merits of different fly sprays. Most were familiar with Crystal Creek’s No-Fly; several felt that the oil-based formulation worked better than the water-based one. Ecotrol (purchased from a distributor called Ivesco) was suggested by a producer, Ecto-Phyte (from Agri-Dynamics) by another producer. A recipe for a homemade spray mixed citronella with vinegar, water, and oil.