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Dead milker

August 16, 2008

No, one of our farm workers hasn't died!


We have two different uses for the word, "milkers" - one use refers to the people doing the milking, and the other use refers to the cows being milked. I.e. our herd is currently split into "milkers", "colostrum cows", "springers" and "lates" (or "late calvers").

In the early hours of this morning when I went to escort the milkers from their paddock to the cowshed I found one of them lying down in an awkward position - not the sort of way that they would normally lie down on purpose.

She was still alive but was having difficulty breathing and was obviously stressed. She tried to move but was too weak to get up. I managed to push her up into a sort of sitting position so that at least her head was above her stomach since I've heard that if cows get stuck in an upside-down position (even slightly) then they start to fill up with air and eventually die.

We gave the cow a calcium injection to try and boost her energy but unfortunately that wasn't enough. She still wasn't able to stand and passed away within an hour. If I'd found her a little bit earlier then I might have been able to help.

What was the cause of her death? It was probably due to milk fever, though this is more common in the colostrum cows than the milkers since they are the ones that have just calved. We drench the cows with magnesium each night so the milkers shouldn't be mineral deficient. Still, it was a very cold night so that probably didn't help.

This was actually our third cow to die this season. I didn't write about the others since I didn't actually see them dead. One of them was our poor injured calver and the other one was a colostrum cow that died a day after calving (found lying slightly upside down).

Hopefully there wont be many more cows meeting the same fate!

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