Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

A visit from the vet

Adele finds some poo

Adele finds some poo

We own a book by Eddie Straiton called ‘Cattle Ailments, recognition and treatment’ (The Crowood Press), which, when it arrived a few years ago, I glanced through quickly and have rarely felt inclined to pick up since. My reluctance is no reflection on the book’s  relevance. Rather, the graphic illustrations reveal my squeamish side and I have developed a kind of hypochondria-by-proxy; symptoms described therein seem to fit our cattle. Clearly crazy, so I avoid looking.

However, yesterday morning I noticed a heifer being slow to feed. Nothing more than that, but enough for me to make a mental note to take another look later. Mental notes being poor notes, it wasn’t until this morning that I remembered that we needed to look at No. 31 a little more closely than usual.

Again she was slower than the rest to feed and closer inspection revealed a slight tremble of her hind quarters and a discharge from her nose. So worse than yesterday. Her temperature was 41.2 degrees C, perhaps 1.5 degrees higher than normal, so we called the vet who would visit later. In the mean-time, over a sandwich, we (Jane) pulled Eddie Straiton’s tome off the shelf and after some time, she revealed the verdict – either foot and mouth disease or pneumonia. The former seemed remarkably unlikely and in truth, unthinkable, and as pneumonia isn’t something we’d hope for either, we welcomed Adele, our vet, without expressing an opinion.

But pneumonia was indeed the verdict, but there was no pleasure to be had from Jane’s accurate diagnosis. An antibiotic later we got to talking about causes. The barn is good and airy and the stock are mostly in good condition, but we do have one cow, Apple, that is scouring a little, and who has odd, hairless patches around her eyes. Another, Pepper, always looks undernourished, although we had put this down to a genetic predisposition linked to a very large and demanding calf. Both conditions however, could be parasite related or the result of a nutritional deficiency. First move therefore was to take faecal and skin samples, so we await the results.

Vets must have a very high tolerance to poo.

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