Dr. Bob Davis, DVM (aka Doc) visited our farm on Monday to check on Miley again and assess why she didn’t respond to the treatment we gave her. If you remember from a previous post Miley became extremely ill about a couple weeks ago. We tried treating her with organic remedies first, but quickly realized it was more serious than we could fix with those. We then moved to using an antibiotic called Nuflor with an anti-inflammatory drug similar to aspirin. At the time Doc thought Miley had pneumonia. Giving an antibiotic was the most humane choice at the time.
Well, it turns out she doesn’t have pneumonia. It is much worse. Miley has an endocarditis which is a fancy term for an infected heart valve. How did she get an infected heart? We don’t know and neither does the vet. Doc said last he saw this was 5 years ago when there were a number of cattle who had it and hadn’t see it again till now. The most likely cause of endocarditis is an infection elsewhere in the body that gets into the bloodstream. We never saw the clues if she did have an infection before she became ill the other week. That is the trouble with cattle, sometimes they don’t show when they are ill. Many animals don’t show weakness/illness as a part their defense mechanisms. Sheep are very well known for this.
So what do we do now? That is what we asked Doc, feeling a lot less hopeful for Miley’ s future. He decided we should try to do a very aggressive and sustained treatment protocol of penicillin to try to kill the bacteria infecting her heart. The chances of this working aren’t that great but its worth a try. The challenge is that we need to kill the bacteria so her body can repair her heart and fight off reinfection. Doc said that many times you will think the cow is better but then she gets ill again because the infection returns. It is very hard to cure an infection in the circulatory system of a cow because the bacteria causing the issue get distributed to every organ of the body. In other words the causative organism has a lot of places to hide from antibiotic therapy vs. a confined skin infection which is an easy target.
Hopefully the treatment will work. She is still eating well and getting around fine which are good signs. She doesn’t like getting shots but I guess she’ll have to put up with more of them if she’d like to keep living. As far as what we plan to do with her if she gets healthy or if she gets worse I don’t know yet. We’ll have to address those decisions as they come up.
FYI, we continue to dump all her milk. Like stated in the pervious post, she is no longer considered organic. Right now our main concern is her health and well being.
Tim (with some help from Emily)
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitterand YouTube.