Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Aw, you got some on your face..."

This morning, we headed out to the dairy farm to dry off a couple of cows and pretreat a handful of heifers. For those not in with the dairy lingo (i.e. me) - that means that they are pregnant and will be expected to calve in the next 60 days or so. They stop getting milked and will slowly stop lactating and "dry off" while waiting to give birth. This allows them to take a break from working, manage any subclinical mastitis issues that may be going on, and prepare for the next lactation. They will then start producing milk again right before they calve.

The way this dairy farm does it may be different from other practices, but this is the only place I've seen it done. First, a separate milk sample from each of the four teats is collected. This will later be plated on 4 separate agar plates (typically blood agar) to see if any bacteria grow. The teats are then disinfected and intramammary antibiotics are injected into each of the four teats. The teats are disinfected again and the internal teat sealant is injected which will form a plug, preventing bacteria from getting into the teat sphincter and setting up a potentially nasty mastitis infection.

Drying off cows is pretty simple - they are used to being in the milking parlor and are used to having their teats handled daily. The heifers on the other hand, have never been in the parlor before and have no idea what to do. When I attempted to inject the antibiotics, they flipped out and started kicking. That is all well and good - I can handle that. What I couldn't handle was when I was about to go into the teat and she flipped out... but instead of kicking, she defecated all over my arms, neck... and face. Thank you GOD that my mouth was closed. It was not ideal, but it was pretty funny!

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