Pet Talk – Star of Mysore

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In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells how to  maintain good health of cows and deworming 

By Maneka Gandhi

How often should cattle be dewormed?

Young animals should preferably be dewormed every month using a suitable anthelmintic. Older animals can be dewormed at 4-6 months’ intervals. A deworming schedule is very crucial for calves because mortality due to worms is very high. In places where heavy endo-parasite infestations are found it is advisable to deworm heifers twice a year up to two years of age. It is good to deworm adult females after parturition.

What is the best grain to feed cattle?

Barley is the best grain for feeding cattle, but wheat, triticale, sorghum, maize, lupins and oats can also be used. Oats is not an ideal grain on its own for feeding cattle, but can be used with any of the other grains. Hay or silage can be used as the roughage source.

What are the signs of a sick cow?

Eye problems: Cattle with eye problems may keep one eye shut and rub their face against fence posts, trees or rocks. The eye may appear cloudy when the cow opens it, and they may have a running, weeping discharge from one or both eyes. They may also seek shade under a tree and remain away from bright sunlight. Eye discharge may be a sign of an injury to the eye, or more commonly conjunctivitis or pink eye. This highly contagious bacterial disease among beef cattle can result in scarring of the cornea and even blindness if not caught and treated early.

Hoof problems: Cattle with hoof ailments will limp or favour one hoof over another. The hoof may appear hot, swollen or cracked. If you can get near enough to handle your animal, or if you can get your cow into a chute for inspection, you may be able to examine the hooves. Pus or any type of discharge must be treated immediately.

Skin lesions: It’s normal for cows to have an occasional patch of skin showing. It’s the same thing among cattle as a scraped knee is among people. But lesions across the back, or circular patterns, can indicate ringworm, rain rot or other fungal infection that can make your cow miserable.

Respiratory problems: Coughing, wheezing, mucous discharge and similar signs can all point to respiratory problems. Common respiratory infections include viral infections.

Neurological problems: Cattle that stagger should be immediately investigated. These animals may be suffering from a severe neurological problem. Some cattle lie down and are unable to get up. Neurological problems may be caused by microorganisms or dietary deficiencies brought about by grazing on greens that are deficient in minerals. Poisonous plants may also be to blame, or grazing on land that has a high proportion of arsenic or lead in the soil. Other signs of a sick cow include weight loss. Unexplained weight loss may be due to a heavy parasite load or dietary deficiencies.

How to maintain good health of my cows?

Maintain a good health programme — keep up-to-date with vaccinations and deworming throughout the year. Certain vaccines for your cows may only need to be given once a year, whereas with deworming more applications per year may be necessary. See your vet for best vaccinations and de-worming products that are best for your cows.

Is it true that cows have four stomachs?

A cow has four stomachs and undergoes a special digestive process to break down the tough and coarse food it eats. When the cow first eats, it chews the food just enough to swallow it. The unchewed food travels to the first two stomachs, the rumen and the reticulum, where it is stored until later.

How can diseases in cattle be prevented?

Diseases can be prevented through good herd management, proper nutrition and vaccinations. Cattle should receive specific vaccinations, such as vaccinations for anthrax, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) and the surroundings around the cattle should be properly sanitised. Feed should be placed in troughs that cannot be contaminated by faeces, and waterers should be kept clean and free of contaminants. Treatment should be followed by chemoprophylaxis to prevent reinfection.

Vaccines may be used to prevent infection, if suitable vaccines are available.

Prompt and proper disposal of manure and other filth from the farm premises.

Regular scrubbing and cleaning of feed and water troughs as well as whitewashing their interior at least once in a week.

Levelling up all ditches, low marshy areas, pits etc., in and around animal houses so that water may not stagnate in them.

Elimination of parasites from the host at the most appropriate time by use of antiparasiticides thereby preventing contamination.

Eggs of ticks and mites deposited in cracks and crevices in the walls, floors and wood work of the animal houses, should be removed periodically.

How to maintain appetite of my cows?

Stay Consistent: Cattle are creatures of habit. Be sure to keep your feeding routine on track morning and night. This same routine should be followed.

Provide Clean Water: Water is the most important nutrient and it is directly tied to feed intake. Cows should have access to clean water at all times in order to maintain optimal health. 

Provide Roughage: Cattle are ruminants, and roughage play an important role in keeping their digestive  system healthy.

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