Keeping Our Cows Healthy

January 24, 2017

cow family photo

We work very closely with our veterinarian throughout each stage of our animals’ lives. We have scheduled herd health checks every other Wednesday, but our vets will come to the farm any time – day or night – to treat a sick animal. During regular health checks, our vet:

  • Checks the cows for pregnancies using an ultrasound machine
  • Administers any scheduled vaccinations
  • Looks at any individuals that may need doctoring that day
When we notice an animal not feeling well, the first thing we do is take its temperature (not unlike what you do for your children). If they have a temp, we then narrow down what may be causing it – mastitis, pneumonia, uterine or bladder infection, or any number of other things. Just like people, cows get sick from time to time.

On using antibiotics

Once we know what is wrong, our veterinarian might recommend treating our cows with an antibiotic. If the sick cow is currently in our milking herd, there are certain antibiotics we can and can’t use. There are other strict guidelines we follow, too:
  • When a cow is treated with an antibiotic, her milk is put in a separate bucket and disposed of for a specific period of time
  • Before her milk can be used again, we have to run a test to make sure there is no antibiotic residue in her milk
  • All milk has to be free of antibiotic residue before it can enter the processing plant, and the first step to ensuring that is testing the milk right on our farm 

On not using hormones

While we choose to use antibiotics when needed, we do not use hormones on our farm. We made this choice for two reasons: rBST is expensive and we don't feel our cows would benefit from using it. But we do believe the milk from cows that are given rBST is safe to consume. After all, BST is a hormone naturally produced by cows. In fact, hormone levels in a glass of milk are the same regardless of whether or not a cow was treated with rBST. And, there are natural hormones in almost all food you eat, even in your vegetables!

Tammy Wakely

Tammy farms with her family in Rockford, located in the northern part of Illinois. They have 120 dairy cows, 110 heifers and calves, and grow hay, corn and wheat. They have four children: Kevin, Jen, Holly and Josh.

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