My friend and colleague Amy likes to call me Doctor Kate.
Do I have a Degree of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)? No…
Do I always know what’s wrong with a sick cow? No…
But do I do my best in trying to help her? YES!
As a herd manager it is my responsibility to care for the health and well-being of cows. Just like people they get sick and need someone to care for them; this is my role! The majority of my work and what I enjoy the most is working with the fresh cows. These cows just had their calves and are the most susceptible to disease and illness because of the stress on their body. Here is a picture of a fresh cow and her baby. Aren’t they cute?!
Shortly after they freshen (after they have given birth) I like to give them probiotics, electrolytes, and calcium. The electrolytes are similar to Gatorade- a cow Gatorade that is! The electrolytes are given orally to help replace what she has lost through calving. I mix the solution and water in a 5 gallon bucket. It may seem like a lot but a cow can drink a bathtub full of water a day so literally it is like a drop in the bucket!
Probiotics are good bugs, similar to what you find in yogurt.
Two is all they get.
Last but not least, they receive calcium with a drenching gun. There’s no conceal and carry permit needed with this gun however! This drench really doesn’t taste the best so usually they spit it all over me, call it hazards of the trade if you will. In preparation for the cow to give birth, her body utilizes a lot of calcium and other vitamins and minerals and drenching her helps to replace what was depleted.
You might be asking why I do all of this?
Simply put, I want to help the fresh cow feel like herself again because as mentioned earlier calving puts her body through stress. Similar to humans, stress can cause a myriad of health effects to the body. For the next few weeks she will stay in a pen with her other herdmates who have also just calved. We call this pen or group of cows the fresh pen. Every morning I monitor their health by taking their temperature, ensuring they are eating, and working with my colleagues to note if they noticed any possible signs of illness.
I might not have a degree in veterinary medicine but I do know that if I weren’t feeling the best, I would want someone to take care of me. As the saying goes, “Try to put yourself in their shoes.” In my line of work though I try to put myself in their hooves!