Tell tale signs of milk fever.

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by springvalley, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    There seems to always be questions on milk fever on here so this is for you all. Milk fever can happen in any breed and any age dairy animals mostly. Some breeds can have milk fever as others don`t near as much. The Jersey breed seems to be one of those breeds that can, but I`m a firm believer that care and feeding can keep most cattle from ever getting it, or mild cases of it at best. Milk fever comes from a rapid draw in calcium from the cows system, and they will have problems real quick if they get it. If you feed your cow good quality grass hay (not timothy) and feed free choice salt and mineral during her dry period she should be fine. Once your cow has her calf keep an eye on your cow, if she has ice cold ears, dry nose, is standoffish, slow on her feet, stumbles, lays down a lot, and at her worst her head will turn around and lay close to her side. Now mild cases of milk fever can be cured on the most part by giving oral calcium in the mouth. The tubes look somewhat like caulking tubes and can be purchased at most farm stores and vet clinics, and you will need the special gun that goes with them. You just put the tube at the back of their mouth on their tongue and press the triger and slowly give her the whole tube. If your cow has been known to have milk fever before, it would be a good idea to give one of these tubes before she has her calf if you can, then another 6 hours after she has it. If giving several of these tubes does not do the trick you should call your vet. to come out and give a calcium solution I.V. to the cow. If the vet does come out to give the I.V. make sure he gives the I.V. slow and never more than one bottle to a small Jersey as two bottles can cause heart attacks. If they need more after one bottle is given a Sub. Q. (under the skin) dose can be given. Make sure you give your cow water after they have their calf , that is VERY important. Warm water in the winter, as they seem to drink it better, I never give mollasses in the water, but know some that do. You can also after they have their calf, give the cow high calcium feed such as good quality alfalfa and good timothy hay. This has worked well for us here and we have very little trouble with milk fever, and we have all jersey cows. If we do have a slight problem, the tube calcium is enough for us, and we never have more than one or two that have ever had slight milk fever cases. And there never seems to be a steadfast reason why they get it sometimes and not other times. For me age has not been the issue, it will happen when it happens, just be ready. Hope this helps some of you that may have problems, this only a guide, and if you feel you need a Vet to consult, please feel free to call them. I know some of you do not have many vets in your areas, so look ahead before you need them. > Thank You All. and God Bless America > Marc

    PS- I also would like to add that I never milk a cow out all the way for the first couple days they have been fresh, only part way the first day, second day 1/2 to 3/4 and all the way out after that, and I don`t get mastitis from doing this either. I have milked cows most of my life and have had just jerseys the last five years, so I think I have lived the life very much to know what works, I also do most all of my own vet work as that is what I wanted to be when I grew up, but the thought of eight more years of schooling changed my mind. > Marc
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
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  2. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That is quite a block of writing there Marc. :teehee:


    My experience has been that having the calcium on-hand is a pretty good way to avoid needing it.
    If you dont stock it then you can almost count on having a cow go down right at dark on saturday night. :teehee:

    I think there is a genetic factor to milk fever, or at least a corellation.
    If the mama of one of your cows was prone to it, her daughters do seem to be much more likely to suffer the affliction.
    Especially as they get older. The big uddered high-production lines seem to have more common instance of it. In *my* experience.

    If you end up with one who gets it despite careful feeding, you will want to learn to give the IV yourself.
    Make your vet show you the proper way. They are always glad to not have to come do it for you.
    It is not that difficult and is like magic how quick they can get to feeling better. :)

    I encourage anyone who hasnt to feel their cows ears when they are not sick.
    Then you will know how they are supposed to feel.
    Icy cold ears on a droopy or wobbly-seeming fresh cow means milk fever.

    Most cows dont get it. But the ones that do WILL die w/o treatment.
    Better safe than sorry.
     

  3. nduetime

    nduetime I am a Christian American Supporter

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    Marc...just wondering.
    Whe my older family cow freshened i always gave her a tube of calcium a few hours after birth. I would just milk out a bit to take some of the tightness out and then let the calf get all the colustrum they could. The next couple days I would take out a bit more each milking and then just do a complete milking by day 4-5. Does that sound about right. We never had any problems before but Clover will be a first time freshener and I really want to do right by her. Her Momma was 16-17 when she passed so she had 4 calves when i got her.As far as i know she never had milk fever but I was really ridiculous about checking her ears everytime she calved. My DH kept telling me to leave the poor girl alone..lol!
     
  4. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    Most of my cows are pests when I`m working around the farm, I`m going to be the pest when it comes to having the calf. I have spent most of my life in my barn, we had a cot in the barn over the years so if we had to spend time at night we could get a few zzzz`s if we had to. Most of the time you can`t kill a cow with kindness unless it`s over feeding them. So giving the cow or heifer a tube of calcium after she calves is not going to hurt her. For most of you here your cows and heifers are part of your family(some of ours are also)and are treated as such. But sometimes you have to take that part of it out of the picture, as cows are animals and we have to think like them once and awhile. You are the BOSS cow in this situation, and have to act like it, don`t let them get away with things, just because your heart gets in the way of your actions. Just think of it this way, you are part of the herd, so checking on a cow is not going to bother them. I have spent a good many hours sitting in a calving area "Watching" a cow or heifer have a calf, you would think I was the proud father myself. Now don`t get carried away, don`t have the whole family out there, that will bother them. I also love barn cams, they have come a long way since the first ones have come out, I don`t have one, but as I get older I sure might. Saves a lot of steps out to the barn on cold or rainy nights, plus once you have had the brisk cold nip of air on a cold January night hit you in the face your going to be awake for a bit. I love calving time and I hate it, nothing more enjoyable than spring time and babies, but it can be a worrysome time also wondering if everything is going to work out allright. And most times they do, some times they don`t , so thats when you have to have the knowledge to know what to do and when to do it. I hope this helps some of you, I have spent my whole life on our farm, this is where I grew up, and hope to die here. Just something about farming and having animals that is good for the soul. > God Bless America, Thanks Marc
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  5. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    Yes this should be fine, most of the colostrum will be out of their udder by day four, so milking out all the way by then is great. > Marc
     
  6. allenslabs

    allenslabs Saanen & Boer Breeder

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    This is a great post!! We should make it a sticky on here cause when most of us go to panic at the thought of milk fever it would be good to have this right there on top!
     
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  7. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What's the problem with Timothy? I've never heard of that as being a problem at all.

    Jennifer
     
  8. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    Timothy is a grass that is very high in calcium, this and blue grass was the race horse hay for many years before alfalfa came into being. It is great hay after your cow freshens, but would only feed small amounts during dry period, I really love Brome grass hay. Brome is wonderful when it is put up right, cut early so it doesn`t get to stemyfor the first cutting. Second cutting without rain I call horse candy, but trust me , everything will goble it up. > Thanks Marc
     
  9. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Interesting. I never heard that before. We grow a lot of Timothy here, but it's mainly mixed with other grasses and legumes. Most of my fields are mixed Smooth Bromegrass and legumes, though. It takes over after awhile and pushes the other grasses out. Looks great in a bale, too. :)

    Jennifer
     
  10. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We choose to a use a route in between the two you posted.
    We treat our cows sub-Q with one bottle of calcium gluconate (or dextrose, whichever we happen to have on hand). This farm has been doing that successfully for over 2 decades....actually closer to 3 decades now.
    Very few cases have needed more than one treatment. Hale Bopp would require two each year she calved (every other year). She was the exception.
    It is not as tricky as IV and not caustic like the paste. Slow release, which we prefer.
    Simple enough to do and no risk of heart attack.
    We've had vets out on the farm treating another downed cow, or else doing blood draws, and dad has been treating our own milk fever cases while they were here. We lost more to vet treatments than we ever have doing it ourselves.

    The point is recognizing the early symptoms.

    Another early sign is straining to pass manure and passing very little, or none as a result.
     
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  11. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    Just going to keep this up to the top for calving season. > Marc
     
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  12. IndyGardenGal

    IndyGardenGal Crazy Goat Lady Supporter

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    When you say you feed alfalfa hay after they calve, do you free feed or only while in the stanchion? We free feed alfalfa hay to the goats, but we were planning on getting grass hay for the cow.
     
  13. Mrs. Homesteader

    Mrs. Homesteader In Remembrance

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    I have a friend with a nice size Jersey herd. She does herd shares. She had a couple of older Jerseys that almost always got milk fever right after calving. She read the book by Karreman (I think). It is called something like Treating Milk Cows Naturally. She said he uses what she calls the 2-2-2 method. She started using it and for the last few years has not had a case of milk fever even in those older cows. You give them 2 oz. of apple cider vinegar, 2 times a day for 2 weeks before they are due to calve. We are going to try this, so I can't comment on personal experience, but my friend has helped me with cow problems more than any body else including the vet. :)
     
  14. Dreamfarm

    Dreamfarm Well-Known Member

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    Please keep us posted and let us know if this works
     
  15. Mrs. Homesteader

    Mrs. Homesteader In Remembrance

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    I will. My 17 year old Jersey did not take this time, so I only have a young one that is going to calve.
     
  16. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    I have never heard of the 2-2-2 cure for MF, I have given my cows ACV in their water in the spring and summer for flies, and come to think of it, I don`t think I ever had problems with MF at all during that time. VERY INTERESTING. > Thanks Marc
     
  17. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    Going to bimp this back up, as there had been another question about it. > Thanks as always > Marc
     
  18. Miss Kay

    Miss Kay Well-Known Member

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    I have a sub Q question. That is right under the skin and not in the muscle - no?
     
  19. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Miss K, if you follow the "sub q" link in post number 10, it takes you to a great tutorial on how to give the shot. :)
     
  20. Miss Kay

    Miss Kay Well-Known Member

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    I read it but it assumed I knew sub Q (I'm sure I should). guess my question is how deep and how do I know I'm there and not in the wrong layer of skin.