cows in field

Recent ODairy Discussions – March, 2021

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board Co-President

A farmer and his vet saw a pattern of cows developing uterine infections after calving, and they thought that low selenium levels might be the cause. The farmer began to add MuSe shots to his dry cow protocol, but two animals went into anaphylactic shock. He asked the group if there was another product that worked to boost selenium levels without the risk. Several farmers and veterinarians added their thoughts: Several producers highly recommended MultiMin 90. A vet said that Jersey cattle seemed to be much more prone to shock after MuSe injections than other breeds; it would be essential to keep a bottle of epinephrine on hand. Good injection technique is important; MuSe, Vitamin ADE, and MultiMin should be injected under the skin (subcutaneously), not in the muscle. Another producer mixes additional selenium, zinc and copper into her mineral mix to achieve the correct mineralization. Another vet suggested that leaving calves on cows encourages them to drop their placenta, and another producer helps cows to “clean” by offering 5 gallons of warm water immediately after calving.

A producer shared an article from Dairy Herd Management on a method known as the “Madigan Squeeze Technique” for calves. “You’ve probably seen it more than once – a beautiful, perfectly formed and apparently healthy calf that just has no interest in engaging in life. These weak or “dummy” calves are indifferent to stimulus, clumsy, lethargic and have weak or no suckle reflex.” The technique mimics the newborn’s tight quarters descending down the birth canal; the pressure applied here is thought to cause huge hormonal changes in the calf, preparing the calf for an active life in the outside world. It is a rare occurrence, but if you have a calf that exhibits no interest in life and has no sucking reflex, this might help. “Wrap a long, soft rope in three concentric loops around the calf’s chest. Gently pull the rope to create pressure around the ribs. The calf should lie down and will enter a sleep-like state with eyes closed, slowed breathing and lowered heart rate. Maintain this position for 20 minutes. Remove the rope and assist the calf in standing.” Some calves may need the procedure repeated a few times during the first few days of life.

A Pennsylvania producer shared a photo of a cow that had developed a burned look over her teats and a leathery feel over the skin on her udder. The condition progressed to the skin hardening and falling off, revealing new skin underneath. All of this was uncomfortable for the cow and a worry for the farmer. Although it was never really determined what caused this, two suggestions seemed the most likely – a herpes infection or a liver disorder. It was suggested that blood tests be done to check liver function.

Frustrated with poor quality farm gates, this producer asked for suggestions for well-made, sturdy gates. The following companies were recommended: CK Manufacturing in Lancaster, PA, Sturdy Built in Denver, PA, Seneca Dairy Systems in Seneca Falls, NY, and Williams Fence in Deansboro, NY.