Dairymen Have no Motivation to Use Antibiotics Excessively
Many people would have you believe that dairies “pump cows with a steady stream of antibiotics.” This is a completely false statement, and is in fact quite opposite. I wrote about antibiotics use at the dairy, but figured I would continue the conversation.
Antibiotics are actually quite expensive so there is little motivation to give healthy animals antibiotics. That would cost the dairy a lot of money, and would contribute no significant advantage to the operation. In fact, dairymen, are really incentivized to keep the herd healthy.
Sick animals cost the dairy money. You have the cost of the treatment, and the cost of the animals productivity (i.e. growth, or milk production). To avoid these negative consequences, dairies are actually quite proactive in keeping the cows healthy.
For example, dairies keep the cows healthy by making sure all their nutritional needs are being meet. Dairies have nutritionists that formulate the diet for cows at various stages of life. Nutrition is a big key in keeping the cows healthy. If the cows aren’t getting enough protein, or energy, they begin to get stressed. Just like how people get sick when they get stressed, cows will also be more susceptible to various diseases if they are too stressed. Nutrition is a perfect example of how dairies use preventative measures to keep cows healthy. You can read more about the science of feeding cows in another posting I did.
**When cows have a baby, we give them an extra boost of Calcium to keep them healthy**
At our dairy, we also use a variety of natural remedies as an alternative to using antibiotics. Since antibiotics are so expensive, we try to find alternative methods to treat diseases.
For our calves, we actually feed them probiotics. Probiotics have been recognized by health professionals as a way to promote health in people. But the same concepts applies for animals as well. The probiotics we feed the baby heifers promotes a healthy digestive system, and promotes the growth of good bacteria in the calf’s digestive system. The good bacteria fight the bad bacteria in the gut. Since we have started using the probiotics, we have noticed a significant reduction in sick calves, and calves that do get sick also are prone to recover much faster!
There are also other examples of alternative medicines we use on the dairy. Sometimes cows get mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary glands (udder). The disease is usually treated with antibiotics, however we have been using some alternative medicines to treat them on our dairy. The alternative regimen is simply a boost of Vitamins A, D, and E along with Flax Seed Oil. Vitamins for cows basically! The regimen gives the cows immune system a much needed boost. The cow’s immune system is then better equipped to fight off the disease naturally.
Dairies do not pump their cows with antibiotics, and instead use a variety of ways to prevent diseases or treat diseases. Preventing disease is actually one of the primary goals of any dairyman. Bottom line is that we actually love our animals and want them to be healthy. In times when they do get sick though, we do use antibiotics, but we use them responsibly, and only in situations when its necessary. The rest of the time, we are out there making sure the cows are not stressed, and the healthiest they can be. We definitely find it exciting when we find natural ways of fighting disease on the dairy.