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Hard work taking over the drenching

September 2, 2008
About to drench the cows

We implement daily drenching of all milking cows on the farm from when they give birth through until mid-November.

They are orally given a magnesium mix through until October to reduce the chances of them suffering from milk fever and grass staggers, then the drenching mix is changed to help prevent bloat during the fast-growing spring pastures.

From mid-November through until February we wont need to drench except on a case-by-case basis, but from February onwards the entire herd will be drenched twice per week as the risk of facial eczema increases.

Today I took over the daily drenching job - at least for the next couple of weeks, and I tell you what, it was hard work!

There is a definite technique to drenching effectively. I started off averging probably 1 minute per cow before I knew what to do but managed to reduce that down to a few seconds (for the well-behaved cows) once I was shown a better technique.

I found that it's easiest to slip a finger in the side of the cow's mouth and pull her towards you if she doesn't open her mouth on her own. Then slip the end of the drenching gun in and give her a shot quickly before she shakes her head around too much.

The older cows have been drenched many times before and are generally pretty well behaved - they tend to arc their heads up ready for the dreching gun as you approach them. But the heifers and three-year-olds are a complete nightmare to drench!

The three-year-olds should be used to dreching but our ones obviously weren't drenched regularly last year so they either put their heads down, swing them around, or basically do whatever they can not to be drenched. I really hope they learn to settle down quickly because this is probably the hardest job I've done on the farm so far this year.

It pays to be careful not to get your fingers jammed between a metal rail and a hard cow's head because I can tell you from experience, that really hurts!

If only the cows knew they were being drenched for their own good...

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