Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

How this farmer used a few cans of stout to get a sick cow back on her feet

Guuinness is among Ireland's most iconic brands. File photo: Reuters
Guuinness is among Ireland's most iconic brands. File photo: Reuters
Isabella Aylward viewing the chicks at Waterford Country Fair in Curraghmore House & Gardens, Portlaw, Co Waterford. Photo: Patrick Browne
John Joyce

John Joyce

The art of stockmanship or herding cannot be underestimated in my book. Even in the summer when grass is plentiful and stock are happy one never knows what is around the corner. Two weeks ago near the end of the hot spell of weather I noticed a cow a little off form with herself one morning.

At the time I was unable to pinpoint the problem as it had been a busy day on the farm and I was unable to spend too much time observing her. It was a very hot morning and I presumed she was just under a little pressure.

Later in the day I returned for another look and found cow number 353 was no better and her condition had deteriorated further.

This was a head scratcher. I looked at the other cows and they seemed happy and all were grazing and contented. Just then the sick cow decided to urinate and there and then the problem dawned on me. It was a case of Redwater caused by a parasite Babesia divergens transmitted by ticks.

While her water was just coloured she was quite sick and under pressure. Old pasture is sometimes blamed for the condition but we haven't had a problem with it for over 15 years and 90pc of the farm has been reseeded. Back 25 years ago a summer would never pass by without one or two cases of Redwater. I had nearly forgotten about this disease, but it just shows anything is possible when dealing with animals.

As she was in the field beside the sheds I decided to walk her back to the yard for treatment. This was slow and at times I had my doubts about her prospects of surviving.

I knew from before that Redwater is a disease that needs to be treated in time if there is to be a positive outcome. I made a quick call to the vet club and we decided to treat with Imizol and Alamycin for three days. I then placed her in a straw bedded shed with her calf to relax with a fresh supply of water.

A couple cans of Guinness were also given to the cow along with some secret homemade remedies to help replenish the iron in her body.

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Later that evening I also dosed her with liquid paraffin to help with digestion and stop her drying up. The following day she was ok but had lost some weight.

Plastic recycling

Last Thursday I did a great spring clean of all the waste plastic on the farm for the annual plastic recycling collection in our local mart at Portumna. I find this a great service as it keeps the farmyard tidy.

We have already contributed to the cost of the service by way of the levy on the new polythene.

This year I have gone one step further as I had all the netting and empty spray drums bagged in the half ton bags.

This kept the netting clean and stopped it blowing around the farmyard. It is also a great way to dispose of the empty spray containers. It is always interesting to see farm waste being recycled for another purpose.

Our silage has yet to be harvested. It was not heavy enough to cut during the last spell of dry weather, but it has really bulked up well with the latest burst of growth. The ground is only closed six weeks so it is still ok for another week and was grazed bare before closing.

We plan to cut when we get the next two fine days back to back. I have 62 acres closed for first cut and have no plans to make a second cut as I will need the after grass for grazing.

When feeding high levels of meal to beef animals in the winter they tend not to use as much silage. The suckler cows and weanlings eat the most. Some say that meal is expensive, but the cost of growing silage is not cheap either especially if it is not good quality.

The last of the beef cattle out of the sheds will be heading for the factory next week. They are on daily ad lib meal and straw, while they costs have mounted on the meal I'm happy I pushed them on.

John Joyce farms at Carrigahorig, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

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