As fall approaches and summer is ending this means the end of field work and more time to spend in the barns working with cattle. However until this point it has been a 6 week rat race of silaging, baling and hauling manure. Therefore the cows had been virtually left to fend for themselves on auto-pilot.
Last Wednesday I got back from a trip to Alberta, to our farm and started in the barn at 5am for morning chores. Where I found on our robotic dairy reports that 19 Cows either had mastitis or had a very good chance of contracting it, based off of their Somatic Cell Count (SCC) reports. With further investigation I found that 9 of these animals were showing physical signs of mastitis. When I asked dad about what was going on, he just shook his head and said that none of the cows were responding to treatments anymore and that he had basically given up on the situation.
I could obviously see the frustration and fatigue that my dad and the hired hand had, who had been in the barns for the last 6 weeks without reprieve. As fate would have it, on the way home from the previous trip I had the opportunity to talk to Eunice. We talked about a different subject all together than this, however there was one comment that stuck in my mind. We were discussing how sensitive animals were to our thoughts, mind sets, attitudes etc. And Eunice laid it out in about as black and white terms as I had ever heard it explained. She said, “Paul, of course they can read our minds, otherwise they’d all be dead.” Of course meaning if prey animals couldn’t tell what their predators were thinking. But that is everything right there in that statement. That’s how susceptible and sensitive they are to us.
Needless to say I gave the hired man the rest of the week off and sent mom and dad on a weekend vacation. I then did nothing else but go about my chores and picked one quality I liked about ever cow I came in contact with, while handling her or even while simply scraping stalls.
When dad and the hired man showed back up Monday our SCC report for the herd showed 2 cows with a low conductivity reading indicating a mild chance of contracting mastitis. These two animals were in fact the two cows with the worst physical symptoms 5 days earlier. I should also mention none of the 19 were treated with any medication, it was just a shift in mind sets and the best handling I knew how to apply.
Mastitis is just an infection and a healthy animal in a good environment should be able to fight that off on her own. But with the stress, fatigue and I’m sure, not the most proper handling that was been done by us the humans, before the time off, the cows simply couldn’t do it. I just tried to give them the opportunity. Many Thanks to Eunice!!