No one wants Scours

Once again my veterinarian science class is filling me full of knowledge and solutions for my family farm. This week our major class discussion was over scours. We also talked about what you can do to treat and prevent them on your operation.

First off for anyone who doesn’t know what scours is; it is:

“Veterinary Pathology: diarrhea in horses and cattle caused by intestinal infection.”

This disease can be detrimental to your heard because calves can pass it to one another quite easy. This infection can be cause by numerous factors; but, the most common are the bacterias E. coli and Salmonella. The calves pass it to one another by their stool. So, scours can spread quickly if you have your cow-calf pairs in a confined area.  The calves do not die directly from this infection but instead from dehydration because their bodies eliminate all the fluids.

The best treatment is to obtain IV access on the calf, then to ensure they are getting enough fluids, give supplemental fluids through the IV. However, this takes a lot of time and will take the most effort. The next best suggestion is to give the correct amount of fluids needed in boluses.  You must be careful though because if you give them too many boluses it will kill the microorganisms in their stomach and in turn the calf will die because the microorganisms cannot break down food. Another thing my teacher pointed out is there is no need to figure out what the cause of scours is because you treat all outbreak cases the same.

The best prevention we talked about in class was the “Sandhills Calving System”. This system consists of separating your dry cows from your cow-calf pairs every week; by putting them in different lots. This ensures that the older calves are not getting the young calves sick. This is a system that takes more effort but you should have fewer problems in the long run.

Let me know if you have any pointers on scours and the treatment/prevention in the comments below.


Calving Season

I feel like my teachers all know calving season is here. Through readings and discussion along with background knowledge I have furthered my knowledge of calving. In both my Animal Science and Veterinarian Science classes we have gone over what you are supposed to look for in a new born calf over the past week. With the double dipping of class objectives I have learned it and reinforced it.

I knew there was the rule of thumb that calves have to suck for the first time in the first 24 hours, but I never really knew why. I never really thought about it much because that’s what grandpa said so it had to be right. But being in college and pushing my mind to learn why has taught me that the stomach in more porous in the first 24 hours allowing the immunoglobulin from the mother to enter that baby’s body.  This allows that calf to receive antibodies that the mother has already built up; boosting the immune system of the calf immensely. These passages in the stomach close up after 24 hours to ensure that the calf will not past something it shouldn’t.

But as most farmers know you are not always going to get this luck to where the calf will suck. Then there is another option if the cow that just had the calf will not claim it. You can use a different cow to take it on as its own baby. My vet teacher always uses the example of using his dairy cow as the “fake mother”. He says this as worked for years on his own personal farm, and he recommends that every farmer has one dairy cow for the supplement mother.

But most of farmers to not have this option on their operation. So there is still yet another option for you farmers that have a mother problem. This is a risky one but it is better than the final solution according to both of my teachers. You should contact a dairy farmer because they usually freeze the colostrum from their cows. This is a risky one because you have the chance of bringing in other disease that were not there before. The one we talked about most was Johnes. This is a whole other topic for a different day, but it is a very interesting disease that you should look into if you don’t know much about it.

But then if none of these solutions have worked and you are in a real bind then your best bet is to use the store bought powder. Both of my teachers said this should be that last on the list, but when you need a fix it is always there.

Let me know what your thoughts on colostrum and newborns are!

Spring Break

Well spring break has officially started; and I am ready for the break! Well the break from school at least. I will be going home to work on the farm, instead of heading to the south like most of my fellow college friends. It is a busy time on the family farm, but I have also made plan to head north for two days to see all the fraternity brothers I left at Northwest Missouri State when I transferred this past semester.

On the farm; calving season has formally started. One of the twenty “breed” cows has popped out the first baby.  Everything went well even though we had nearly 20 inches of snow on the ground.  The first calf is a heifer.  The calf got the colostrum in the first twenty-four hours on its’ own making our job as farmers easy. As for the rest of break I will just be feeding and fixing fence on the back 40 acres. Pretty easy stuff if everything goes as planned.

Now, for the fun part of my spring break! I will be making the two and a half hour trek north to reunite with all the brothers I left for academics. Yes college is for scholastics but I had some great times with the men of Delta Chi. It broke my heart to leave that great fraternity after only a year and a half of being a member.  However, I am more than excited to spend a couple of days and nights at “The House”. These guys will probably heckle me about the transfer but in the end I will most likely make some more unforgettable memories!

Mixer with Delta Chi & Tri Sigma

Well, that about sums up my spring break. I am thrilled to spend time with my family and my brothers at Delta Chi. It should make for a busy and entertaining week, but also a week free of school work … besides this.