Coping with Milk Fever

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Haggis, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    My Jersey Dorsey is due to freshen around the first of April. It will be her seventh calf. The fellow who sold her to me raised her from a calf and said that she had had milk fever 3 of the 6 times she had calved for him.

    She never went down, just staggered some for a day or so. He never gave her anything medical to help her and she obviously got over it.

    As she is older now, I don't mind treating her with medications if they will help, but what do I need to have on hand?

    Is there anything much that I can do to help her before hand?

    Her previous history put the odds are 50/50 for milk fever, but so far I haven't been real lucky with my cattle births so I'm figuring more like 100% chance that something will go wrong.
     
  2. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Haggis over at the "Keeping a Family Cow" forum there has been a lot of discussion about milk fever recently... I suggest that you go over there and check it out. Joanne, who owns the forum, and others have posted some very interesting information and precautions that could help you avoid it all together. Here's the link... http://familycow.proboards32.com/index.cgi Do a search for Milk Fever within the last 90 days and you'll get a whole list of threads that will refer to it. You can also post any questions that you have and I'm sure that somebody will have an answer. They are a good bunch of folks, that are very knowledgeable about this stuff.
     

  3. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    You can prevent most milk fever by feeding a low-potassium diet during the dry period. We have separate hayfields for our dry cows that have never had manure on them, we just apply whatever nitrogen and phosphorus are needed and keep the potassium as low as possible and that keeps the K-Ca ratio under control to prevent milk fever. As for what else you might need, that depends what you're comfortable with. You can get a couple of tubes of calcium paste as a minimum, they say to squeeze them over feed but I've always found the cows will just pick around the paste, you have to stick it in the corner of their mouths and push a broom handle or something down to squirt the paste in. A bottle of liquid calcium run under the skin in several spots will help but if you can start an IV that's even better. Probably the best if you know she's prone to milk fever and can't get the diet in place to prevent it is to drench her as soon as she calves but you have to know how to be able to do that too. I use a 1/3 hp submersible pump with a stomach tube, SS tube, and give them 10 gallons of lukewarm water with Calcium propionate powder, glycol, yeast and electrolytes when they calve. Unless you already know how you'd have to get someone to show you how to make sure the tube isn't in her lungs so you don't drown her, a stethoscope is best if you have two people.
     
  4. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Calcium gluconate administered intravenously. If you're not comfortable doing this (injecting into vein) get the vet out ASAP!

    A symptom of milk fever is cold ears. That's always the first thing I check if a postpartum cow won't get up or is acting lethargic.

    Some of the old-timers say you shouldn't milk a cow all the way out the first couple times after she freshens. I guess the theory is that if she doesn't have to produce as much milk to refill her bag, it will lessen the risk of milk fever. Others disagree, saying it will lead to mastitis, which also is a valid concern. I guess you pays yer money and you takes yer chances on that one!
     
  5. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    A few sugggestions to help manage your milk fever prone cow.Make sure Dorsey is getting plenty of exercise. Do not overfeed her, even if she is guilting you into it. Usually a skinny cow will calve and get going better than a fat cow. Don't feed lush alfalfa preferable grassy blend or poorer quality hay. Right after calving let her drink her fill of lukewarm water. Have at least 10 to 15 gallons ready (hopefully it won't freeze as you carry it to the barn). Give her a calcium gel also after calving,cows hate this stuff and will fight it. If her ears are cold or acting stumbly later give her another tube. If she cannot get up do not give her anything in the mouth. Have a vet IV calcium in her, rather than hope she pulls out of it. Sometimes we will premilk a cow for a day or week before they calve, and they rarely get milkfever but usually have retained placentas. After calving keep her eating; give her whatever she'll eat. Maybe get a bag of the sweet calf starter stuff to topdress the regular stuff. Some of our prone cows will take four IV treatments and frustration to finally right themselves. I hope everything goes better this time.
     
  6. Scottland Jerseys

    Scottland Jerseys Active Member

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    In an effort to avoid milk fever, we never feed our dry cows legumes in any form before calving. That means checking to make sure your dry cow feed (grain) does not contain any legume products as well. We also make sure no calcium is added to the feed.

    We rarely use the calcium gel and have had very little positive response to it in the past. You have to also remember that should a cow go down with milk fever and be in a comatose state that giving something orally is not a good idea.

    We watch for milk fever ALL the time. Cows can go down with milk fever before and after calving.

    Milk fever is so easily treated that it seems only reasonable call the vet and have it treated properly. We treat our own but if we were not commercial dairymen we would not hesitate to spend the money on a vet call to save our beloved homestead cow. They are worth much more than the price of the treatment.

    Despite our best efforts, we still have a few cases of milk fever every year. The only fear we have of milk fever is if we didn't watch our cows and treat them properly, we would loose them unnecessarily.
     
  7. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I got hold of the vet and he's going to mail me some calcium stuff to pour down Dorsey's gullet at the first sign of trouble. He said he'd get it in the mail Wednesday so I'd get it by the end of the week.

    Thanks for the help folks.
     
  8. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    Haggis, It won't hurt to give it to her BEFORE signs of trouble either (according to our vet.) If you have a chance to give it to her after birthing, then do. Don't wait for trouble to knock - sometimes they need the calcium quicker than you can give it to them.
     
  9. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    Now that's a good idea!! :worship: Thanks a heap.

    I do fret a bit for Dorsey, given her history and age, so we are going to live with her once she gets a little closer to her due date.

    She's a good and gentle old cow and averaged nearly 4 gallons a day during her last lactation, until I started milking her once and day and that brought her average way down. I'm hoping she will live and be productive a few more years. Herself says Dorsey has a home for life even if she gets too old to produce anything more than mown pastures and fertilzer.
     
  10. Tom McLaughlin

    Tom McLaughlin Tom

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  11. luvrulz

    luvrulz Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hey Haggis! There's some stuff called Rejuvenate that there was a post on earlier. My jersey freshened about a month ago and she habitually gets milk fever. We didn't find out about this stuff til after we called the neighbor out to help with the shots and all. I talked to a guy her in KY/TN and he'll get some in the mail for next time... Let me know if you need the phone # and I'll dig it out. This sounds like a simple fix and it works! The rep spoke so highly of it and this guy seemed to think it was the best thing since sliced bread!

    Good luck! :)




    Reformed_Farmer
    I'm not much for "magic powders and additives" but this one works. IBA sells a product called Rejuvenate. It is a powder that you mix with 5 gals of warm water. Its sweet tasting and most cows go nuts over it and suck it down faster than you can pour it out. I mix it in a pail and dump it in a rubber tub. It works best to get it to them as soon as they calve....the quicker the better. I have never had to give a bottle of Cal to a cow that drank it. Even those Fat Jerseys that look like they will need 2 or 3 bottles for sure......never miss a beat. We have a few cow families that are very prown to get milk fever. This stuff saves the day. It has dried whey for a base. It has Cal, Phos, DFM, Niacin and a bunch of Vits and Mins. I never thought it would work, but I won't be without now.

    Scott

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    myersfarm
    sounds great just what i might need i did try a google search on it and didn't fine anything could you post the maker so i could buy some or a possibly a link thanks john

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    Reformed_Farmer
    Its made by IBA and you have to buy it from one of their dealers. We have an IBA truck stop by once a month. I can get phone # off of a pail tomorrow and post it, then you can call and see if there is a dealer in your area. I couldn't find a website.

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    Reformed_Farmer
    Well, the only thing on any of there stuff is an address for the main headquarters. Best bet is to stop by the nearest dairy farm and ask them if the truck stops there. See if they will get you some.
     
  12. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member

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    We feed poorer quality hay the last month. My Grandpa used to feed straw in one feeding and hay the other for the last month. You want them to draw on there own body minerals before they freshen. Also I put epsom salt into her water to make her have looser bowels, and get things moving. Also they will drink more water. This was listed in a very old countryside years ago. I have done it every year except one when I had the flu and didn't bother{she was about 11 years old then, and first milk fever, not any since then}. Well, she started to shake her feet and I knew she was getting it, called the vet out. By the time he got here whe had just went down, but while she was down he did the mandatory TB test at the time. As I type we just put one of the milk cows{our 4 year old} in a stall tonight as she is showing some signs of pain, and our other cow was trying to ride her, a sure sign of hormones released. Fresh milk real soon..... :D