Sunday, 30 November 2014

A Make Shift Smallholding Hospital.

I haven't been sleeping very well the last couple of nights.  So I woke up yesterday morning about five thirty and couldn't get back to sleep.  So I decided to take a couple of Paracetamol with a glass of water and the next thing I know, it's 9.30!  That is so unlike me.

So I got dressed and made a quick brew (ground coffee in the cafetiere) and looked at the blogs and emails and made my way to the cowshed.  One of the heifer calves was lying down on the slats and the others were mooing for their barley and calf nuts.  The calf didn't get up and one of them stood on her.  I suspected there was something wrong with her.

I don't know why the cow slats don't have grips on them.  Perhaps it's because it would make it difficult to clean them? A lot of farmers buy rubber mats to go over the slats to stop cattle slipping.  It's 40 Euro for a good rubber mat.  So it would cost me 400 Euros to cover our slats.  Apparently slips and broken legs are very common in slatted houses.  You try to make life easier, not mucking out.  But there is also the animals welfare to think about.

By this time the missus had walked in the cowshed and I told her to get number one son to help me try to stand up.  We deduced she had slipped on the concrete slats and banged her leg.  Her cloven hooves wouldn't allow her to get a grip.  We rang a farmer up the road who told us to drag her outside and she will be able to stick her hooves into the grass paddock.  We also gave her an injection of antibiotics and put the calves out with her for the day.

Every twenty minutes or so we would check her.  Sure enough.  She got up and had the pick of grass.  Then lay down for a few hours and got up again.  We decided to make her a pen in the cowshed with a straw covering over the solid concrete and we tied a farm gate to make the pen.  Then we put in a feeding trough, gave her some hay and a tub of water to drink.

This morning she got up to eat the nuts in the trough and she seems to be limping a bit.  But she's had four plops (experts say they leave twelve cow pats a day) and she's chewing her cud.  You can't afford to call for the vet every day.  I am pleased to say I think she will be OK.  Do you try and cure your animals when they are ill or get hurt?

22 comments:

  1. You did a good job. I never rush to call the vet unless it's an emergency. I guess you get used to judging when you need to call one in if you've had animals a long time. I put rubber mats down for the horses but used to worry even those were rough on them. In the old days we just put down shavings or straw to make a thick bed and mucked out the dirty bits- I guess with cows that isn't so easy. Years back when working on a farm I had the lovely Spring job of clearing out the deep litter bed the calves had been on over Winter. No tractor, just spades! Hope she continues to recover. CT.

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  2. I use homeopathic remedies on all of our animals and my friend up the road uses them on her horses, she even cured one of them who had laminitis, after a conventional vet told her to put it down.

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    1. Where do you get your remedies, Heron? I have a copy of The Complete Herbal Handbook For Farm And Stable. It's very good.

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    2. Either from a Homeopath, a chemist or health shop, plus we have our own cabinet.
      There are lots of homeopaths in Cork as everywhere & several specialise in large animals too.

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    3. Are the homeopaths expensive, Heron? I believe there are homoeopath courses? Thanks for the advice.

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    4. The fees that homeopaths charge are about their knowledge, the remedies are very,very cheap and last for years if kept properly. Check you phone directory and have a chat with one of them.

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    5. Thanks Heron. I think I will also read up on the subject. May be there is an on line course?

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    6. Check this out http://www.alternativevet.org/homeopathy.htm

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  3. Hi CT. We had a loose house system for the last twelve years or so with the cattle eating in the yard and the door left open, unless it was really rough. Every autumn and winter day I would muck out with barrow and pike and scatter shavings and straw. I have a long time back injury and we decided to make a slatted house. We just clean the slats once a week and a neighbour agitates it and puts the slurry on the land for us. You try to make life easier for the cattle and your self. But some how that doesn't seem compatible. Concrete and cow dung is very dangerous - too slippy. It's hard work mucking out, especially when they have lay down on their muck and straw bed, isn't it? Thanks!

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    1. I went to an interesting workshop last week on rural diffuse pollution, which included methods to manage slurry to prevent it washing off into rivers and streams. The group that hosted the workshop offer advice to farmers as well. Do you have a similar service in Ireland? We have a massive problem in the UK with water pollution, not just from farms of course. It was an interesting day.

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    2. Hi CT. Your rural diffuse pollution workshop sounds really interesting. I have read about biomass furnaces and I believe in Denmark they use slurry and offal from slaughter works for electricitty and heating. It would be a good source of income if farmers could sell some of their animal slurry. I don't know of a similar service in Ireland. I do know that the EEC is putting pressure on Ireland to clean up its rivers, seas and beaches. There is even talk of every septic tank being inspected in the country. Most septic tanks with outlet pipes will be condemned. The house owner will be expected to install an electric water treatment plant. The government is said to be willing to give you a fifty percent grant towards the cost. Where they will find the money to fund this, I don't know.

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    3. It's such a difficult thing, balancing economics with the environment. I'm studying ecology at the moment and some of the water problems we are facing are pretty mind-blowing so something needs to be done. The farmer who spoke at the conference talked about having to fund a £60k build to house his slurry, which he wasn't chuffed about understandably, but I believe one of the local Rivers Trusts had funded or helped to fund other work on the farm to minimise the impact of run-off. We're studying the Water Framework Directive at the moment, it is pretty sobering reading. Interested in the biomass furnace.

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    4. I think a lot depends on how many animals you keep, CT. We get very small farm payments, 13 acres and only keep an handful of cattle over winter. So our tank never gets full. Think Dairy farmers and forestry have the biggest pollution problems. There aren't even any grants available for dungsteads and slurry pits. When there was they wouldn't pay you anything if you had already started construction. Good luck with the ecology studies.

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  4. Hi Dave, Google 'Galway Homeopathics' they are the only people who are licenced to produce and sell animal homeopathic remedy's in Ireland. They are very knowledgeable, we have only had to use them once when we had the poultry farm and their remedy's work , not cheap, but neither are vets or their prescriptions. if we needed to use them again we would not hesitate, but we would use herbal remedy's as a first call.

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  5. Hi Anne. Thanks for telling us about Galway Homeopathics. I will look at their worming treatments, especially. What's your best herbal remedy? I know garlic is very good. I think a lot of the herbal remedies came from the gypsies. All fascinating stuff - Thanks!

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  6. Garlic Garlic garlic! honey for some things, codliver oil, especially for eye problems ( in the eye) Very very strong tea (black) for scours in calves. Stockholm tar for hoofs. The best fluke treatment is no longer available, it was made from the root of the male shield fern ( dryopteris filix- mas) Comfrey for broken bones with a splint.
    Cobwebs for wounds, stops bleeding, then there are masses of common herbs that can be used as a general tonic and blood purifiers, nettles, goose grass, dandelion root, hawthorn for heart , there are so many things Dave.

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  7. Thanks for the herbal advice, Anne. We have so many herbs and plants around us and we don't (or forgot) how to use them. I know Comfrey "knit-bone") is very good for fractures in bandages. Nettles have lots of medicinal uses and they use to make rope and army uniforms with them. Somebody once said to. You can eat anything a goat eats. I don't fancy eating flowers, shrubs and clothes hanging on the washing line. I knew what they were saying though. You don't often see a sick goat.

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  8. Yes, wonderful job mucking out a winters supply of manure by hand.

    Of course, in the days of small bales, the strings were often left in the shed to become buried, just slinging a fork of manure when the string was caught on a prong, it came to a sudden halt and a lot of swearing.

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  9. We can still get small bales of hay and straw , Cumbrian. I am going to buy some in the next few weeks if I can't get any more round bales. Believe the string use to be sisal? Now it's made of polypropylene. So like most plastic products (silage plastic) around the farm it doesn't rot down.

    I use to muck out the cattle every day in Winter. Then I started giving them a straw bed with shavings and I found it a lot harder than mucking out three of four barrows every day. Then along came my Ford 3000 tractor and I piked straight in the transport box. Last year we put in the slatted tank and now I have to pay to get the slurry pumped out. I saved money when I did it my self. But now I save my labour and back when we get it agitated and pumped out. You can't win can you? Thanks!

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  10. Yes, the old sisal baler twine, farmers weld as it was known, every farmer had a couple of lengths of it in his pocket.

    Haven't seen the small bales for a long time, can't even remember when the last one was. remember them well though, hay-time was hard graft but seemed to be fun somehow once your hands developed a band of hard skin where you picked up the bales. And mewing was quite a skill, it was considered to be a young mans job.

    I don't think we;ll ever win, just exchange one problem for another.

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  11. There were a lot of small hay and straw blaes made in Ireland, last summer, Cumbrian. It was a very good summer though. The small bales are still very popular for horses, sheep and calves. They seem to being sold for around 3.50 Euros. I think its cheaper to make than silage and you don't have to get rid of the plastic after wards.

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