Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Labor Pains.....

There is a problem that can occur when a cow has her baby which is called a prolapsed uterus. This is when the uterus prolapses out as a result of a difficult calving or constant pushing by the mother, even after the calf has been born. It has been happening for as long as we know and the only way to fix it is to carefully push the uterus back into place.

This week the farm vet had a an emergency call for a cow that had prolapsed her uterus. Usually the farmers will make an attempt to fix the problem before they call the vet out and if it is a difficult case, that is when they make the call. The farm vet knows the two dairy farming brothers that called him out. They have been in the business their whole lives and are close to 60 years of age. He knew this was most likely going to be a difficult case as these men are very experienced.

When he arrived the cow was down and continually pushing with her uterus out. One brother was there and told the farm vet she had had a difficult calving. Just to give you an idea of the task at hand, imagine how large a cow's uterus is right after giving birth to a 100 pound calf. The farm vet suited up and gave the cow an epidural. The uterus gets cleaned and then the slow process of pushing it back into place begins. This takes an extreme amount of patience. Patience is one of the key qualities needed for a job like this. The farm vet was pleased to have encouragement from one of the brothers helping him and the other brother consoling the cow, sweet talking her the whole time.

Inch by inch they worked and after about 30 minutes of pushing and maneuvering, the uterus was put back in place. The farm vet checked to make sure it was properly positioned and put one stitch across the vulva to prevent the problem from recurring. When he stood up he realized how exhausted he was and covered in blood and fluid! This is not one of the glamorous moments in the profession but when you see the caring owners and the cow that now has a chance to live it makes it all worth it. The farm vet, tired and mucky, took a moment to watch the mama cow start to lick her new baby. There are these moments which make the profession rewarding. When the farm vet got home he said, "Instead of rushing away, I took a minute to watch the cow with her calf because it really is important to appreciate what has just taken place."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Its That Time of Year - Fair Time!

The weather is starting to cool off, corn chopping is beginning and the frantic calls are coming in from people preparing their best animals to take them to the fair! It's "fair season" in California and that means the livestock shows will be taking place. The fair is a wonderful place to take the kids if you would like to expose them to some farm animals without having to find your way onto a farm.

The farm vet has been out to see a few clients to do some tuberculosis testing on dairy cattle to make sure they are tuberculosis free when they are sold. He will be dehorning some beef cattle for showing purposes and has been out to see a sheep and a pig that will be making their trip to the local fair as well. These animals are shown by the youth involved in animal agriculture. The amount of time and effort put into raising these animals so they can take them to the fair is huge. It takes a lot of discipline and responsibility to work with the animals and prepare them. The young kids that get the opportunity to do this are very lucky and learn a lot from it. I know as I am speaking from experience. ;-)
Isn't she a beauty?!

 Our hope is that all fairs will continue the tradition of having livestock shows. Not only for the people and kids directly involved in agriculture, but also for those people that are not. It gives them an opportunity to come in contact with the animals and the people that raise them. I have many fond memories of showing cattle at our local fair and I hope our children will have the chance to experience that.

Here are a few pictures of some of the dairy heifers the farm vet checked.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Farm Vet in England

We recently went back to England to visit the farm vet's family. It was a fantastic trip and we were very fortunate to experience great weather throughout the trip. One of the highlights of the vacation was visiting a local dairy farm in Lincolnshire. Yes, this is what we get excited to do on our vacations. Visiting dairies is our "cup of tea." :-)

This farm is a bit unusual for an English dairy as it is going to be expanding it's milking herd up to 650 cows. That is quite a bit larger than the average herd size in England. The owner is a young dairy farmer and was a wonderful host. We spent three hours discussing the U.S. and U.K. dairy industries. He was gracious enough to show us around and did this without much notice prior to our arrival. It was refreshing to see this young dairy farmer speak with so much motivation and ambition to progress and succeed when the world presents so many challenges for dairy farmers these days. We will see if he starts a trend with the expansion of his dairy farm......

Here is a photo of his milk barn system and also a photo of his current cow housing. The cows will be let out on pasture in the summer and be kept inside for the winter. He is renovating a barn with individual stalls for the cows to lay down in.


The calves are fed with this milk tank, not individually by bottle. This was something new for us to see and it looks as though it is yielding good results!

It was nice to see the different management practices he is implementing. As we say, it all comes down to good management and he looks like he is doing a great job. We would like to thank Tom Rawson for his time and openness with us. We wish him all the best with his new ventures.

A walk in the famous Yorkshire Dales where James Herriot spent his days as a veterinary surgeon was another highlight of our trip. I could not help but picture him racing around from farm to farm on the narrow, winding roads. Here are a few photos of the beautiful countryside which we were lucky enough to enjoy.