more milk fever

milk feverMaybe it’s the grass this year, which has been exceptionally rich and plentiful with  alternate warmth and cool, sun and rain.  Good grass means plentiful milk, so much we’ve had to begin making cheese twenty pounds at a time, and butter in a four gallon bucket, good things indeed.  But heavy lactation right after calving can trigger calcium deficiency, or ‘milk fever’, a nuisance at best, deadly if not dealt with, and we’ve seen two cases now, two for two this month of May.  We’ve got a crick from elevating i.v. bottles for twenty-thirty minutes a go, and a permanent case of the shudders whenever we see a hypodermic needle.

In the case of the seven-year-old Jersey cow Poppy, it’s just not fair:  we gave her prophylactic CMPK paste two days before she calved, and again twelve hours after, and still at about 24 hours she went down, and we had to drip six 500 ml bottles of calcium solution into her jugular before she shifted her freight — the first two, we might add, kneeling for an hour in a cold drizzle.

Makes you feel old and experienced, and pretty triumphant, and certain you’d rather never have to do it again.

7 thoughts on “more milk fever

  1. No kidding! But she’s on her feet this morning, back in the paddock with the rest of the lactating cows. These crises are intense while they are going on, but, really, they tend to be of short duration. It’s mostly when you tie three or four together that you begin to wonder if you’re crazy to be doing this —

    1. Hey, Ryan! How are the Carmelites?
      DE — I’ve never tried offering it free-choice, have you? Do you mean the cows might consume it to meet their need for Ca? There’s and exciting proposition — anti-parasitical and mineral all in one. I think it would be worth a shot, if I can work out a non-cumbrous way of moving free-choice minerals with the pastured animals — even a single mineral block is just one more (heavy) thing to move with each paddock. Maybe a roofed mineral bar on skids?

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