what is milk fever ?

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I am a fairly recent purchaser of a pregnant cow--she delivered a healthy calf that died a few days ago when a tree fell on him, after several days of heavy rain. He seemed to always nurse at the same teat--that side of the cow's bag looks fuller than the other side, but not engorged, at least not yet. One of my questions is this: what is "milk fever" and how would I recognize it? The cow is very mild mannered, but NOT tame enough for me to touch her, even if I knew how to milk her, which I don't. I have no way to restrain her or confine her, but I'm willing to try whatever it takes--don't want to loose another animal! Does anyone know of anything that would dry her up? Any suggestions would be helpful, and appreciated. Thanks.

-- bren silver (mtndragonrider@yahoo.com), July 04, 2001


Hi, Bren. Don't worry about milk fever with this cow. That's something that occurs right around the time they freshen. Sounds to me like this cow has been fresh for a week or more? and if so she will not have it. Milk fever is a blood calcium imbalance brought on by sudden need for calcium in the milk. This cow is already through that period and handled it successfully. And if you don't want to milk this cow or have no way to do it, don't worry, she'll dry herself off. You can take a fresh cow with a dead calf and in ten days her udder will just about stop production. It may be uncomfortable for her for awhile, but Nature knows how to take care of problems like this without help from us. Too bad about the calf! I had a very scratched up bull calf last year that I couldn't figure out what had happened to him, and then noticed a few days later that a small tree in the pasture had blown over in a windstorm we'd had some days before. Freak things like that sure do mess our plans up.

Jennifer L.

-- Jennifer L. (jlance@imcnet.net), July 04, 2001.

Are you perhaps confusing "milk fever" with "mastitis"? Milk fever happens right at the time of calving or the day afterwards, and it is spotted when the cow is down with her head pressed back against her flank. It takes immediate vet attention, or the cow may die. It is a mineral imbalance of the blood. New research indicates it may be tied to cations and anions beign off balance. dont ask me what that all means, but the local extention agent told me to be careful not to allow my cow rich hay that had been fertilised with poultry litter, for some reason, as it upset the phosphorus levels, which in turn threw the cation-anion balance out of whack.

Mastitis is when a cow develops an infection in her udder. The milk will be clumpy or stringy. If you see clumps or strings in the milk, IMMEDIATELY treat her with antibiotics. You can buy the treatment at your local farm store, and you just inject it up into her teat after each milking. If you are a newby, you might should check with the vet the first time you run into it.

-- daffodyllady (daffodyllady@yahoo.com), July 04, 2001.

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