Tips for Livestock Care

Fall 2006

By Diane Schivera
Copyright 2006

Following are highlights from the New England Sustainable Livestock Conference in Vermont and MOFGA’s Livestock Health workshop featuring Hue Karreman, a holistic veterinarian from Pennsylvania, and Jim and Nancy Gardiner, dairy farmers from Otselic, New York. For complete notes and handouts, contact me. Comments about bovine usually apply to all species.

• You need six sows to produce enough to pay to maintain a boar over winter.

• A cover crop of peas, oats and barley works well. You can cut it with a scythe and feed it to pigs, or use it as pasture for poultry.

• Black hoofed animals have stronger hoofs.

• A cow produces seven to 11 manure piles per day, covering 7 to 11 square feet of pasture.

• Cows should produce manure as often as they eat. If they don’t, check their liver.

• A fluid extract (i.e., herbal tincture) is made by mixing1 part herbal material (by weight) with 1 part grain alcohol.

• To control mange, use sulfur powder, pyrethrum powder or lime sulfur.

• Feed kelp for a shiny coat and fewer problems with lice and mange.

• To control ringworm, use a Betadine scrub, then apply tea tree oil externally.

• A cow with an S-shaped curve to its head, from neck to withers, is deficient in potassium.

• To control milk fever, give 2 ounces of apple cider vinegar twice a day for two weeks before calving.

• When doing an IV, hold the bottle no higher that the backbone.

• To control pink eye caused by eye trauma or flies, use tinctures of calendula, eyebright, euphrasia, and/or hypericum. A mixture of all four herbs in equal parts is best. As an alternative, buy a 3% boric acid ointment and mix it with water.

• Put powdered sugar on a sheep’s prolapsed uterus to shrink the uterus before pushing it in.

• To help reduce mastitis, dip cows’ teats two weeks after cows dry off and two weeks before they freshen.

• Streptococcus agalactica, Staphylococcus aureus and mycoplasm are contagious, but non-agalactica strep , E. coli and other staph infections are environmental causes of mastitis.

• Mastitis caused by Aranobaterium pryogens is more common in summer and around flies and leaking milk.

• Materials that stimulate the immune system include vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E; selenium; Immunoblast (a mycobacterial cell wall fractionate from Bioniche); vaccines; Biocel CBT from Agridynamics; and Phyto mast (a serum from a hyper immune cow, produced by Dr. Karreman and available through a vet).

• Panax ginseng given at 8mg/kg body weight for six days will increase the number of white blood cells and decrease Staphylococcus aureus infection and somatic cell counts. See J. Veterinary Medicine, p. 519, Sept. 2001.

• Use udder ointment containing mint (for increased circulation) for 48 hours maximum.

• Barley straw is a good copper source for sheep and goats. It may also help oxygenate ponds to reduce algae. Put one bale every 20 feet around the pond.

• It is important to maintain the correctly balanced intake of copper, zinc and calcium in sheep, according to National Research Council levels.

• Animals consume more minerals from loose minerals than from salt blocks.

• If you see ankle or joint problems, check for adrenal problems.

• When ingesting or giving Echinacea angustifolia, use capsicum as a catalyst to dilate cells and improve absorption.

• To treat for shock, put capsicum (cayenne) directly on the animal’s tongue.

• During a heat cycle, supplement the diet with selenium, zinc, copper, vitamins A, D and E, the herb Damiana, raspberry leaves (high in manganese, the “mothering mineral”) and kelp. Provide vitamins and minerals according to label directions. For herbs, see table accompanying this article.

• Raspberry leaves (free choice) stimulate the reproductive system through high protein and vitamin E.

• Before calving, supplement the diet with zinc and kelp. Dandelions are great at this time; they provide a lot of protein and energy and can help control acidosis (too much acid in the rumen, usually due to high grain consumption).

• During freshening, blue cohosh helps dilate the cervix. Feed a cow 2 to 3 Tbsp. of the herbal powder at start of softening.

• Pennyroyal increases contractions.

• During postpartum, watch for milk fever. Symptoms include blue eye color and low body temperature.

• You often see a tongue protrusion when you touch the withers within the last third of gestation, if the cow has a retained placenta.

• To treat a retained placenta, within six hours of freshening give 4 Tbsp. slippery elm powder twice a day for 36 hours until the placenta comes out, then for one more day. If the placenta smells, give Damiana also.

• To maintain hoof health, supplement the diet with copper sulfate, biotin, vitamins A, D and B complex, and, for horses, fresh comfrey. Follow bottle directions for dosages.

• Treat hairy hoof warts with thyme oil and copper sulfate, then wrap the foot.

• Treat hoof rot by soaking the hoof in a solution of Epsom salts in clean water then wrapping the foot. You can also give, orally or as a poultice, goldenseal, Echinacea, cayenne, Pau D’arco. The latter is especially good for fungal infections.

• Garlic is antibiotic, antifungal and kills parasites. One or two fresh, bruised cloves work best, given orally right after milking.

• Give calves colostrum as soon as possible after birth and for three days, when the cows’ milk cannot be put in the milk tank; then feed them whole milk for 90 days.

• Supplement calves daily until they’re weaned with 1 Tbsp. black walnut hull powder (to fight bacteria and parasites), 1/2 tsp. ginger root powder, probiotics and vitamin B complex. Feed them the best balage, free choice, with no grain until they’re freshening.

• Good concentrations of soil calcium reduce parasite survival. A field with a lot of wild mustard indicates low calcium. Get a soil test.

• If you are new to keeping a cow, be aware that the rumen fills on the cow’s left side, so you know which side to check.

• Provide salt and kelp separately if your animals have any problems, so that they’ll be able to eat enough kelp.

• To treat Coccidia, supplement the diet with mined (not synthetic) colloidal minerals. Offer free choice or follow label directions.

• In older animals, clover blossoms in hay in February and March help keep the liver healthy and reduce lactic acid buildup.

• Give animals root medicines in winter and leaves in spring and summer.

• When giving tinctures to horses and cows, provide 30 cc two to three times per day. The dose for people is usually 40 drops or 3 cc in 4 ounces of water every 4 hours.

• Small grains ferment faster in the rumen, affecting digestion and nutrient availability.

• Birdsfoot trefoil reduces the fecal egg count of stomach and intestinal parasites; tannins and other chemicals in chicory reduce the adult intestinal worms.

• Putting a bag on the nose of a sheep or goat will make it urinate.

• The cayenne, garlic and diatomaceous product from Fertrel, given daily for six weeks, reduced the fecal egg count in a Clemson University study.

• A good, used book is Veterinary Doses and Prescription Writing, 6th ed., by Pierre Fish, from Slingerland-Comstock Publishing Co., Ithaca, N.Y., 1930. It has useful information on herbs.

Common Herbal Dosages for Herbivores (from Hue Karreman)

Preparation Goat Cow Horse
Decoction 4 oz. 12 oz. 8 oz.
Extract powder 1 tsp. 2 Tbsp. 2 Tbsp.
Extract tablet 3-5 10-15 10-15
granules 1 tsp. 2 Tbsp. 2 Tbsp.
Tincture 1 tsp. 2 Tbsp. 2-3 Tbsp.
Fresh herb 2 tsp. 4 Tbsp. 4 Tbsp.

Tbsp. = Tablespoon, roughly = to 15cc
Herbivores require less per pound relative to the human or carnivore
dosage. These doses are given two to three times daily.

Mineral and supplement suggestions from Jim and Nancy Gardiner

Weather Condition Considerations

Mineral or Supplement Extra Wet Extra Dry or Extra Hot Extra Cold Fresh Forage Stored Forage
B complex     x   x
Biotin–plant source or molasses; for starch digestion to sugars;

foot problem

x   x   x
Copper sulfate x   x   x
Kelp x x x   x
Redmond conditioner, Ca and trace minerals x x x x x
Redmond Salt

–improves H2O absorption

x x x x x
Selenium–reproductive system, including udder cells, and cough/pneumonia   x x x x
Vit. A, D & E–epithelial cells x   x   x
Zinc sulfate–catalyst; makes Ca available. Eyes/ pink eye x   x   x

Diane Schivera, MOFGA’s organic livestock specialist, can answer your questions at 568-4142 or [email protected].

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