Milk Fever

This has not been a very fun weekend, other than the birth of the new puppies on Friday (a fact that means my responsibilities increase until they go to their new homes). I admit I had a hard time on Thursday with it being Thanksgiving and missing Josh so much.

Thursday evening I sent Mike off to do a little hunting, something that he doesn't get to do much, and I took care of the feeding and milking. A lot of evenings I am just about finished with the chores when Mike gets home. He usually milks Maya while I bottle feed the calves. When I started to milk Maya on Thursday, she got very beligerent and kept kicking at me and kicking the milker. It was awful and because I was emotionally spent anyway, it was more than I could take. I started to cry, then sob and I couldn't settle down enough to deal with Maya. I think in reality the breakdown was what I needed to expel some of the pent up emotions that I had. In retrospect, I think Maya was acting out because she was starting to feel bad and because she could sense my tension.

Yesterday, Edy came in to be milked and she acted like she didn't care to be milked at all which is very unusual for her. I realized by last night that she has started to voluntarily dry off. It's almost time to dry her off anyway, because we give our cows a two month break from milking towards the end of their pregnancy. I was concerned about Edy all day and had her on my mind when I went out to start the chores last night. When I went around the corner, there was Maya who was obviously not doing well at all. She was stumbling and her eyes looked cloudy. I immediately suspected it was milk fever, although milk fever normally occurs very early in lactation.

When I realized that Maya needed immediate attention, I began yelling for Mike who came down to the barn. We called Mike's dad and he came up and gave Maya a bottle of Calcium subcutaniously and one in the vein. She is better today, but still doesn't act like she feels good. I didn't feel that I could leave her because I was afraid she would go down, so other than a run to Tractor Supply to get some Calcium/Magnesium paste to administer to her, in case she needs it again.

It's been raining here since last night. We really need the moisture as we are still in drought conditions, but it has made it most miserable to do the chores and milking and the mud and manure are an unbelievable mess! I had a lady call me that wanted to come and see the heifers that I have for sale and today was the only day that would suit her to do so. Normally, I like to keep Sundays as a family day and a day when we can do as little as possible, but it was obvious today was not going to be such a day anway, so I told her to come on and visit. I wanted to clean up a bit and seperate the heifers from the other animals and put them in where it was dry. By the time I had done so and then visited with the lady for a while outside in the rain and then finished up by doing evening chores and milking, I had been outside in the damp cold for hours and was chilled to the bone.

It sure feels good to be inside now in the easy chair with a warm blanket over me. Now, unless I have another emergency, the only thing that will interrupt me tonight will be Hunter, my male dachshund who is missing his girlfriend, Hope, who is busy with the babies. He wakes up the entire house about every two hours barking his disapproval at his current circumstances!

Did I mention that I LOVE farming? I wouldn't trade it for the world!


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Milk fever, post-parturient hypocalcemia, or parturient paresis is a disease of dairy cows, characterized by reduced blood calcium levels.
It is most common in the first few days of
lactation, when demand for calcium for milk production exceeds the body's ability to mobilize calcium reserves.
Fever" is a misnomer, as body temperature during the disease is usually below normal. Low blood calcium levels interfere with muscle function throughout the body, causing general weakness, loss of appetite, and eventually heart failure.

Hypocalcemia is more common in older animals (who have reduced ability to mobilize calcium from bone) and in certain breeds (such as Jersey cattle).
Hypocalcemia, like milk fever, occurs occasionally at any time during the lactation or pregnancy and in many mammalian species.

In mild cases, the animal seems quite normal, but has difficulties to stay. If the cow succeeds in rising, she staggers, and will very soon fall. The cow's appetite can be maintained at that stage. Body temperatures are from 37 to 38.5°C (normal range 38-38.5°C). This stage, referred to as "first degree", corresponds to calcemiae of 55 to 75 mg/l.
In typical cases, the cow's head is in a so-called self-auscultation position.
Mydriasis is often present. The heart can be slow or arrhythmic. The body temperature is 35 to 37°C. In that stage, referred to as "second degree", calcium levels in the blood are of 30 to 65 mg/l.
In advanced cases, the cow is lying on its side, seeming dead. The body temperature can go as low as 32°C. This is the 3rd degree, with calcemia as low as 20 mg/l.

Treatment generally involves calcium injection by intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous routes. Various commercial preparations are available for this purpose.
Intravenous calcium, though indicated in many cases, is potentially fatal through "heart blockade", or transient high calcium levels stopping the heart, so should be administered with care.
In unclear cases of
downer cows, intravenous calcium injection can lead to diagnosis. The typical reaction will be a generalized tremor of the skeletal muscles, and sometimes cardiac arrhythmia. Defecation, urination and eructation are frequent during the treatment, due to pharmacological effect of calcium on the smooth muscles. In stage I and II, The cow can stand up approximately 10 minutes after the end of the intravenous injection. But in stage III, it may take two or three hours.
The prognosis is generally good, even in advanced cases. However, some patients can relapse the following day, and even a third time the day after.


Diane said...

Hi Tammy,
So sorry it's been a string of bad days. I've been praying especially hard for you, knowing that the holidays will not be easy, to say the least. I'm always glad for each new day. Unless of course it follows the one before! Eventually the sun does come out and then my spirits are lifted. Take your time grieving. It comes in waves and we never know when they will hit. I've cried talking to perfect strangers at the grocery store. I'm so glad you shared your sorrow with Bob and I because we count it such a privilege to pray for others.

Gypsie Lady said...

mom know that no matter what happens I love you so much. you are my hero...