Moxie Update

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Here’s a blurry photo of my dear cow, Moxie, munching hay in the dim light of her stall as I was closing up the barn last night. (A flash improves the focus, but turns her beautiful, patient eyes into popping white orbs, making her appear to be a crazed cow from outer space.)

The news is that Moxie is better but not better. You may recall I took a milk sample from her mastitic right rear teat last Friday night, but the veterinary office forty minutes away could not run the test on a Saturday. Only the new young vet was in that day and she did not know how to do the procedure. I decided to go ahead and buy the meds anyway and hope for the best. The office secretary told me that the test could be run post-meds if necessary.

According to the label, the Today infusions are supposed to be given in two doses, twelve hours apart. On Saturday I had spoken to a dairyman who has 130 cows, 90 milking. He told me I could continue the meds for a few days, as long as I was dumping the milk — the restriction is not for the health of the cow (the med is benign), but to keep antibiotics out of the milk supply.

After the first dose, Moxie picked up remarkably. Her expression became brighter and she stopped avoiding the stanchion. I was encouraged. However, she has now had the med for three days. She is still feeling better, and continues to eat and drink with her usual gusto, but the quarter still has a lump inside it the size of a baseball. The hardness is no longer painful but also does not decrease. Obviously the Today is not touching it.

I took a sample from the quarter last night. The “milk” in that teat remains scanty and clear yellowish-red. Today I am sending the sample by overnight mail to Animal Profiling, a cattle testing lab in Oregon, along with a tube apiece of regular milk from both Moxie and Dorrie, to confirm pregnancy before I dry them off.

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(As I saw each one bred, at a conservative estimate, fifty times back in June, it did not occur to me to test them this year. However my internet friend Heather, who is married to a vet and has kept cattle for many years, recently warned me that sometimes cows may throw a false heat and be bred by a bull when they are not in fact ovulating. It would be a shame to dry the girls off if they are not actually in calf.

In recent years I have sent in blood samples to Biotracking for pregnancy tests, but that requires the help of my friend Alison, a nurse, to do the blood draws while I soothe the cows. Two weeks ago my internet friend Lee Anne sent me the link to Animal Profiling. Apparently milk samples, especially in later pregnancy, are just as accurate as blood samples — and they’re certainly easier on me and on the cows.)

While it will be good to learn if they are safely in calf, I am mostly worried about Moxie’s mastitis. I’ve also paged my ever-reliable internet “cow friends” about the latter situation, just in case they have more suggestions.

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