Dairy Training ‘Duds’

This picture was supposed to demonstrate how ‘dirty’ I got breeding #cows but you can’t really see it…well I was full of it!! #dairywoman #training (at Twin Falls, ID)

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Hospital of the Holsteins

A hospital is defined as an institution providing medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick or injured people.  Spending two weeks in the hospital wasn’t as bad I thought it could be, but then again I wasn’t a patient!  Fortunately for me, I was in a COW hospital, where I was providing care for sick or injured cows.  Which is something that I enjoy very, very much.  Not because I like sick cows – of course not!  I just love caring for animals J.  However, these patients are especially interesting to care for since they can be extremely impatient and weigh anywhere between 1,200 to 2,000 pounds.  On top of that they can’t tell you how they’re feeling!

 When a cow comes in to the cow hospital the first thing to do is perform a physical on her.  So we will evaluate her overall body appearance, her eyes, her ears, her breathing – listening to her lungs and her heartbeat, check her manure, and take her temperature.  From her symptoms and overall appearance combined with her temperature, we can determine what she needs.  Then she will spend as much time in the hospital as she needs until she has a full recovery.  When she is fully recovered she will be moved back into the regular milking herd.  However a cow given any drug or antibiotic needing withdrawal time will stay in the hospital until that time is met.

Withdrawal time is the time from the last treatment until the animal can be slaughtered, or the milk from it can be consumed.  This means the milk or meat won’t and can’t be put into the consumer market place until the animal has met the withdrawal time for any drug or antibiotic received.  That is why there is a separate milking parlor here at Maddox Dairy.  Cows that have received any drug or antibiotic are milked completely separate from cows whose milk will be sold for human consumption.

The use of any drug or antibiotic for cattle has been a hot issue throughout the world.  Dairy farmers across the United States use drugs and antibiotics because they desire to help their cows defeat any sickness, not be defeated by it.  They use them responsibly because they know the importance of keeping drugs and antibiotics out of the consumer marketplace.  In fact, “during 2010, nearly four million tests were conducted on milk samples to detect antibiotics or other drug residues with less than 0.03% positive.  Any milk testing positive was destroyed and it never reached the consumer market.” (Dairy Food Safety Fact Sheet, midwestdairy.com)  Dairy farmers and their families are consuming the same food that you do.  Therefore they desire to provide a high quality, great tasting and SAFE milk supply. 

So let me roll you through a day in the cow hospital here at Maddox Dairy.  For the milker of the hospital milking parlor, the day starts at 3:30 a.m. milking the cows of the hospital pen.  Then before 5:30 a.m. the hospital pen is given fresh feed so when myself and the other employees arrive we can lock up the hospital pen to evaluate each cow and administer treatments if deemed necessary.  As we evaluate the hospital pen, the mastitis cows are being milked and given intramammary treatments if necessary.  Intramammary treatments go directly into the udder of the cow.  As cows are treated in the hospital, strict records of EVERYTHING she receives are kept so the farm knows the correct withdrawal time.

Other things that happen throughout the day in the hospital are walking through the hospital pens checking on the cows and cleaning the water troughs.  We also feed and water any cow given an individual box stall, as many times as needed.  Three times a day, fresh cows or first-calf heifers are brought over from the maternity barn.  We milk the fresh cows and first-calf heifers initially for their colostrum and give supportive therapy to any cow or first-calf heifer that had a difficult calving.   A cow or first-calf heifer can be called “fresh” because only after calving can either start lactating, aka producing milk.  Otherwise the hospital crew is on call for any emergency throughout the dairy affecting cows, whether it is a cow that slipped on accident, one that’s been diagnosed with milk fever in the maternity barn, or another brought in for pneumonia.  Being a dairyman or woman takes a lot of dedication, care and hard work because everyday is a day that we do our best to make these hard-working, beautiful cows happy and comfortable.  It’s not only the best way to ensure the cows can produce wholesome milk, it’s the right thing to do as caring dairymen and it’s our livelihood.