Strange behavior

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by dosthouhavemilk, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Something is strange with our dairy herd. If it weren't the weekend dad would probably call a vet, but it is the weekend.
    About six hours ago, I noticed the herd (16 milking cows, dry cows and heifers- totaling around 42 head) running full speed towards the barn. I figured the dog had "herded" them, but he wasn't nearby. The goat herd was in the field and they look like they had been startled as well.
    The goat herd went back to their pen though.
    The herd of cattle then tunred around and headed full speed back where they had been. They came back again and headed out a second time, and this time they went clear to the other end of our property.
    Dad went out to bring them in for milking (hah!) and when they showed up, again running full speed, they were covered from head to toe in liqiud manure. The little heifers were the worse. Like they had not stopped running the entire time and are all loose.
    Their manure isn't very solid since they are out on spring pasture, but we generally don't see this big a mess.
    The biggest concern now is that one of our best milking cows is missing and in their frantic behavior they were charging through barbed wire fencing and over land with groundhog holes, etc. :bash:
    I took a hike and could not see her and she did not respond to my calls.

    Dad thought maybe flies, but they weren't running with their tails straight out like he would expect. What else was odd was when i came back from looking for Sandy, as soon as the remaining 28 animals saw me they started charging towards me again?

    Any ideas on what happened with our herd? :confused:

    It is very strange, indeed.
     
  2. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Any chance you have a problem with predators? Missing livestock makes me think you might. When we have fly problems, the cattle are restless and drift back and forth through the pasture but I've never had them go through fences.
     

  3. lizmont2000

    lizmont2000 Active Member

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    Sounds like something or someone was chasing them, or rustling them!

    Ours run when playing ir when horsefles are really bad, but they always stop after 1 jog across the pasture.

    Something had them fearing for their lives to run like that. How did your fences look? Can you take a truck or atv or to look for the missing ones?

    Let us know what happens!
    Liz
     
  4. myersfarm

    myersfarm Dariy Calf Raiser

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    dthm do you have any yellow jackets in part of the country mine beef herd did that once and that was what was chasing them had real big welps on them and you know cows they kept running back in and running back.......the yellow jackets came out of the ground so you know where the best grass was around there nest......john
     
  5. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, Sandy showed up for milking this morning (thank goodness).
    Dad said they are already starting their sprints again today.
    The only "predators" in our area are coyotes and dad has only seen a lone coyote twice in the last two years. We are in the town limits and have 40 fenceline neighbors, so there is only one area they can come in. The second time dad saw the coyote it was wandering through the herd, and they didn't spook then.
    The thing about the way they are running, they don't look back, and since they charged me it doesn't seem like they were spooked.
    Fly season is just beginning around here, so it may be flies and they may have then become overly excited about it.
    I don't know about the yellow jackets. Dad will read this later and maybe it will spark something.
    They actually have access to 80 acres right now, and the fencing they were dashuing through was downed fencing that they normally walk over, rather than run full speed over. So far no cut up udders, and no more broken legs or heart attacks.

    We do have some animals with major allergies and since our first cutting isn't even down and dad cut some yesterday, do you think the release of pollen from cutting might have irritated them to the extent that they would go running? I know it irritates me at this point.
    Hopefully I can get the 10-12 month old heifers put away and we can get the dry cows and heifers more contained as well.
    We have animals in heat but they haven't slowed down enough to be standing.

    Thanks for all the ideas. Just very strange behavior.
     
  6. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if bot flies bite cows? I've never known them to, but when they are after horses, they will go completely crazy. We have buffalo gnats that will drive cows & horses crazy, too. They usually hatch out by the millions shortly after a big rain.
    I'm betting that it's some kind of insect.
    Here is part of an article that I found about buffalo gnats.

    "Livestock, which are often unable to fend for themselves due to fences, holding pens, or tethers may often actually be smothered as a result of large numbers of these gnats. Livestock's deaths have been attributed to exsanguination (the literal sucking of blood to the point of death). Animals have been seen portraying an act of bedevilment, astonishingly appearing to have been driven mad. Wild game, particularly white tail deer, have been occasionally plagued and decimated by this pest."
    http://www.uaex.edu/monroe/news/Buffalo_Gnat.asp
     
  7. Momof8kiddoes

    Momof8kiddoes Well-Known Member

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    Dont know if this would be it..but...in Joanns book Keeping a Family Cow, she has a section on "Mobbing"
    "Mobbing refers to an activity practiced by many species whereby a large number of otherwise defenseless creatures move as a mob to discourage predators or intruders. You can often see little birds driving away crows this way. Sometimes a large group of cattle will do this. Walk purposefully away. Running is to be avoided."
    Wonder if they were practicing or something? Hope it works out for you, whatever is going on!
    Mary
     
  8. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They seemed to have calmed down, but it did hurt production! A little over 1000 lbs. shipped on four milkings out of 16 head. :no:

    Still don't know for sure what happened but everyone appears to be okay by it. Thankfully!
     
  9. twstanley

    twstanley Well-Known Member

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    I am glad you didn't lose any stock or have any injuries from all that running. It sounds to me like something was spooking them to get them running around like that, any of your 40 neighbors have young boys with pellet guns plinking at the cows to make them run or anything like that?
    Maybe some new dogs around or a pack moving thru started running them?

    I would keep a close eye over the next few days, try and get out and about in the pastures and watch for anything odd.
     
  10. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My younger sister's theory is that they felt the aftershocks of an earthquake she heard occured in Kentucky that morning.
    We have lost the use of a good portion of land next to those 40 fenceline neighbors. Could have been kids, but they were well onto our property in areas that our neighbors simply don't wander.
    Everyone appears fine now and we'll just chalk it up to one of those strange incidents. :)
     
  11. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Local older timers have described cattle that way running from heel flies. Heel flies are nasty little buggers. Fly lays eggs in the heel area. Larva works it way up under the skin to the back where they eventually emerge. Thought to be extremely annoying to the cattle.
     
  12. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ah, so it is heel flies that cause those ugly little creatures?
    We've had some cattle with those, but not too many nowadays.