When the kids were little, this was a common occurrence in our house. With five little kids, we had every virus and secondary infection known to mankind! Our pediatrician was on speed-dial on our phone. My little redhead had a particularly difficult time with ear infections. Every cold he got would settle in his ears. We learned all the tricks to make him feel better--heat packs, ear drops, pain relievers and finally antibiotics. I admit, there were times when I was desperate and called the doctor begging for something to relieve his pain.
At one visit that I clearly remember holding my little boy on my lap rocking him and holding a warm compress to his ear, the pediatrician talked to me about the importance of saving antibiotics as a treatment for secondary infections. As a mom of a teary eyed, sore eared little boy, I really didn't care--"Just give him the meds, Doc!" But as time went on, I remembered that discussion--now nearly 15 years ago--and it rings so true.
The same is true for illness in cattle. Of course, cattle get sick! Just as I cared about the comfort and health of my little boy, I truly do care about the health and comfort of my cattle. Right now, we have approximately 350 weaned calves around our ranch that we are feeding. About one hundred of them are steers destined for the feedyard. Fifty are young bulls that will be raised as breeding stock, and the rest are heifers that are being raised for breeding stock as well. That is a lot of "pre-teen" cattle to care for! To make matters worse, the temperature in Kansas was in the 60s last week, but today we woke to a morning thermometer reading of 8 degrees!! Brrrrrrr!!!
|This is my record of everything that happens on our ranch--including which calves were sick and received antibiotics.|
Where did I learn all this animal disease care? From my veterinarian. Shortly after the pediatrician's speech on the judicious use of antibiotics, my local veterinarian and I had a discussion on antibiotics used in livestock--and it was very similar to my talk with the pediatrician. Our vet is frequently on our ranch, helping us care for the cattle. He sees our calves and cows on a regular basis and helps me plan our herd health program--the same way that our pediatrician and I worked together to keep my children healthy years ago. If a calf has new symptoms or doesn't clear the original symptoms of illness, my vet gets a call and he stops by to take a look and suggest a different treatment routine. I work very closely with him to make sure my cattle receive the best treatment for the symptoms that they have.
|Working with my veterinarian, to maintain herd health.|
|Cows in the pasture--even though the grass is green, they still need care during the summer.|
The first step in ensuring a safe food supply is caring for the animals. That is my job every day and I take my job very seriously. Let me refer back to the pen of calves I'm preparing to head to the feedyard. Those steers are doing great! We have not had to treat many of them, as very few have been sick. The ones that have received antibiotics are in my recordbook and I've watched them fully recover. Once they are taken to the feedyard that we use (only 5 miles from our ranch), they are treated in the exact same way! They are watched daily to make sure they are healthy, and if a sick calf is found, they will be evaluated to see if it is a secondary infection and if antibiotics are needed. If so, the calf receives a dose of the appropriate antibiotics and his ID number is noted in a recordbook along with the antibiotic used and when it was used. The one difference is that they then send me a bill to pay for the added labor and expense of the antibiotic!
|This is a pen of 100 of my steers in the feedyard. They look healthy, happy and very content!|
Just a side note, that little snotty nosed redhaired boy is now 18 yrs old and is 6'6" tall and is a freshman in college! He outgrew his ear infections and is a healthy, active young man with an awesome future in agriculture!