I lost one of my cows yesterday

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by willow_girl, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    This is hard for me to even write about, but I decided I will make the effort in case the information helps somebody else.

    It was Dawnna, my beloved little Jersey. :waa:

    About 3 weeks ago, I noticed she was losing weight. For most of the summer, she had been a little on the chubby side. I initially attributed her weight loss to getting Twister -- thought Twist was pushing her away from the food bunk 'cause she's so much bigger. I started turning Dawn out again, and giving her extra grain, but the weight loss continued.

    Then I noticed diarrhea, on 2 separate occasions. :confused:

    Rapid weight loss and diarrhea are, of course, the classic hallmarks of Johne's disease.

    On Friday she took a turn for the worse, and did not want to get up and eat when I fed the rest of the cows.

    Yesterday morning, I had the vet out, and he confirmed my suspicions.

    I decided to euthanize her now, rather than letting her suffer as her condition gradually worsened. :waa:

    There is a chance my other cows have been infected, although the transmission rate among adult cattle is rather low.

    It is very likely that Dawnna's calf, Libby-Belle, who nursed off her since birth, has been infected. :waa:

    The really scary part is that Dawnna was totally asymptomatic up until a few weeks ago. The picture of her on the other thread was taken on Aug. 31, less than a month ago!!!

    I would encourage all cattle owners to Google "Johne's disease" and read up about it. I was surprised at its prevalence (my vet told me there isn't a farm in the area that doesn't have some Johne's cows). I will definitely be taking precautions to prevent transmission to any calves born here in the future!

    There is also a suspected link between the paratuberculosis bacteria that causes Johne's, and Crohn's disease, a sometimes fatal human intestinal ailment with no known cure. And paratuberculosis bacteria have been found even in pasteurized milk! :eek:

    Great Britain is apparently reviewing its pasteurization standards in light of this information; however, one website I found suggested the U.S. dairy industry has been successful in keeping a lid on the powder keg and persuading the USDA and FDA not to review the standards. I found that very disturbing ...

    I hope none of you ever have to go through this with your girls. It's been like a nightmare I keep expecting to wake up from ...

    She was such a good little cow. I feel like I've lost one of my best friends. :waa:
     
  2. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    my condolences...did the vet to a johne's test or did he just diagnose given the symptoms?
     

  3. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I hate it for you that you lost your Jersey. The fellow who sold me my Jerseys had a cow that was infected. He said he had had all of his cows tested and only the one 8 year old cow had it.

    According to him it was very unlikely that older cows would become infected but to keep calves separated from cows to kill the spred of the infection.

    I've kept an eye on my Dorsey because see seems to be losing weight but her June photo, when I bought her, shows her thinner than she is now.

    All I know is that as long as something is alive there is a chance it will die.
     
  4. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Thanks, you guys. :)

    No, he didn't do a test, she was diagnosed based on symptoms ... he did offer the option of testing, but I felt pretty sure the diagnosis was correct (I have seen Johne's in cows where I work) and I did not want her to suffer.

    She had obviously taken a big turn for the worse in just 48 hours' time, and went from eating and drinking normally on Thursday, to losing all interest in food by Saturday morning ... it has been my experience that when an animal stops eating, it has given up. :(

    Haggis, I sure hope you don't go through this with your girl! :(

    If she is pregnant now, you might want to have her checked before she delivers ... if she tests positive, you will want to make arrangements in advance to have substitute colostrum on hand to feed the calf. And, yes, you will want to separate them ASAP.

    And, yes, we all go back to the earth eventually ... but it still is hard to lose a friend! :(
     
  5. KesWindhunter

    KesWindhunter Well-Known Member

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    willow,
    My condolences. Remember the joy.
    kestrel
     
  6. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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  7. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    Willow, I was so sorry to hear about your gal. I loved her picture when I first saw it posted last week. They sure have an ability to get our hearts wrapped around them. I'm hoping for the best for the rest of your cattle.
     
  8. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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  9. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Sorry about your cow.

    Testing for Johne's is NOT reliable. Often an infected cow will give a negative test. Often an infected cow is not symptomatic until they calve or suffer another stress. Often an infected cow will never show any symptoms, but will spread the disease around.

    They declare a farm Johne's free if they maintain a closed herd or only buy from other Johne's free herds and go through five years of testing ALL animals with zero positives. It is a tricky disease to avoid.

    It is much more common in dairy cattle than in beef cattle.

    Once you've had it, your premises are infected and will remain so for many years. It lives in the soil and can be picked up by grazing animals, as well as passed via nursing.

    I would totally freak if there was ever any indication of Johne's on my place.

    Jena
     
  10. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Yeah, I am freaking ... trust me on that one! :(

    BTW, you're right Jena, this is not a cow that looked sick up until about 2-1/2 weeks ago.

    Here's a photo of her taken at the end of June ... BTW she is not pregnant in this pic, it was taken 3 months after her calf was born!

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for your loss Willow,

    Jena, or anyone else, if the test is unreliable and from what I hear takes a long time to get results on, how do they stop infected meat from a Johnes animal getting into the food chain, or does it?

    Carol K
     
  12. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    It goes into the food chain ... on the farm where I work, Johne's cows are routinely culled for slaughter.

    Another reason to be a vegetarian!!!
     
  13. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    They say there is no danger from eating the meat, but then they said there was no danger from drinking the milk either. They have now linked the Johne's germ to Crohn's disease.

    There are plenty of sick cattle that make it to the food chain. They could have anything from pnuemonia to BVD...as long as they are out of the withdrawl time for any drugs given and the carcass passes inspection...it could end up on your plate.

    No reason to be vegetarian, but another good reason to either grow your own or buy from a producer you can trust (me! sorry for the shameless plug for my meat!).

    Jena
     
  14. NRS Farm

    NRS Farm Well-Known Member

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    From what I have read, http://www.johnes.org they now think that pasturization does not kill the M. paratuberculosis bacteria. It has been found in milk samples (Of 702 samples tested, 2.8 percent contained viable MAP – that is, MAP bacteria that was capable of multiplying). HOWEVER, they have not found any evidence that drinking milk with the bacterium would cause Crohn's disease. If drinking milk from Johne's infected cows does cause Crohn's, I would expect Dairy farmers to have a high incidence of Crohn's disease. I have not found any studies either way (Dairy farmers verses non-dairy farmers).

    Every reliable source I have read says there "might" be a connection or that there "might not" be a connection. One article at the above URL does give a compilation of various studies on the connection between Johne's and Crohn's. Here is the URL http://www.johnes.org/zoonotic/index.html . From one study this URL mentions, it appears that, in Minnesota, urban people have a HIGHER incidence of Crohn's per thousand capita than rural. Again...wouldn't dairy farmers have the highest incidence? Most dairy farmers probably drink the milk (some drink it unpasturized) and actually "handle" the infected cows and manure.
     
  15. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    Willow, I am so sorry to hear of your loss.