welcome to the bovine bugle
Follow organic dairy farmer Jonathan Gates as he reports weekly from his Vermont family farm. Howmars Farm is a certified organic dairy farm, one of many Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative farmer members who supply the milk that goes into making Stonyfield's yogurts and smoothies. The entire family pitches in on this third-generation farm. Check out some of the happenings on his farm and post your comments. Jonathan loves to get feedback from readers.
When an organic heifer needs antibiotics
When I am visiting with other farmers who are not organic producers, one of the first questions they ask me is what do I do to treat sick cows since we're not allowed to use antibiotics. I then give "the speech" about all the approved-for-organic use products I use in managing the health of my dairy herd, some of which are the same things the conventional farmers use. And I emphasize that good management practices like clean housing, good feed, clean milking equipment, proper milking practices, and regular herd checks will keep animals healthy, so you don't need to worry about treating a lot of sick animals. With all of this said, I recently had to use antibiotics to save a cow's life.
Dr. K felt the disease had not progressed too far, and that PJ would probably pull through with good care and proper medicine. I didn't hesitate in my decision to go ahead with the treatment. Before the vets left the farm, PJ had been given her first dose of antibiotic intravenously. I was to give her the same treatment over the next four days and hope for the best. The other thing I did was to call the NOFA-VT office to let them know I had treated a cow with antibiotics, what her ID tag was, and that I would be selling her as soon as she was better. The next 48 hours were touch and go. PJ got worse in the next 24 to 36 hours, but then she started gradually improving. I was diligent in giving her the antibiotic through the IV tube, and in keeping her fed and watered. On the third day, she was standing up again and she just kept getting better.
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