|T O P I C R E V I E W
|Posted - Dec 27 2015 : 05:10:32 AM
Rough start yesterday, the day after Christmas. Nick went down a few minutes before I left to milk my girls at 7 a.m. and found Rosetta had died in the night. He found her lying near the outer edge of where she sleeps. I’m still processing it emotionally but for the benefit of others, I’ve detailed everything I can think of so far.
I’m not sure what she died of. She’s always been perfectly healthy and was only barely looking wider because of her pregnancy. In other words, she wasn’t overweight or underweight. No coughing ever, no nasal discharge, never sick a day in her life, born 2/25/2014.
After going down to see her, I was halfway back up the path to the house to call a vet to see if I could get a necropsy done on her (she was due to deliver March 12 and was carrying a bull calf, her pregnancy the result of semen purchased a couple of years ago), when I thought about what it would be like for a weekend on-call emergency doctor to have to come in for a necropsy the day after Christmas. I’m sure a doctor would be home with family hoping no one called. I thought about cutting into her to see if I could detect something wrong with the calf but decided I didn’t know enough about cow anatomy and still needed to get her out from amongst the other cows and attend to my three girls that needed milking.
She was definitely bloated, although it may have been secondary, happening after she was immobilized for some other reason. Her stomach was enlarged and tight. She had a small amount of foam around her mouth and a fair amount of diarrhea surrounding her rear but no blood in it. Her eyes had bulged. And there was a short but wide strand of thick mucous (about a ½ inch wide) hanging from her vulva. Both her vulva and rectum were bright red and very swollen. I took photos that I’ll go over with a doctor.
She didn’t have any diets changes. Nick and I had come home from town around 5:30 pm Christmas day and together we fed them their evening meal. It was about a half hour after we usually feed them. They received their usual serving of Chaffhaye plus a little Timothy hay. Usually I do one or the other (occasionally both), but Nick had started to toss out some hay, so I added some Chaffhaye to their feeder also, not any more than usual. No minerals; I’d fed those in the morning. While they ate, we put down a fresh bed of straw for them after mucking out the day’s piles. We also put Fanci and Finnegan in their designated area that we’d cleaned/prepped that morning. My cows had been out of free-choice kelp for a couple of days. They have Redmond salt blocks they lick.
Rosetta hadn’t had any grain for several days and was only getting it for milking parlor/squeeze chute training and not as part of her diet. Julie and Rachel had been here to do some clicker training Tuesday morning which means Rosetta would have gotten a handful or two of grain pellets then. Rosetta was our brightest and most eager clicker-trained cow with a very easy-going, agreeable personality. She was pregnant with her first calf. She is the daughter of Maizy and my former bull, Bo Jangles.
All of my other cows are perfectly well. Eliza Belle had a bit of diarrhea a few days ago but it cleared up that same day. I made the mistake of googling cattle diseases before typing this and was reminded why I don’t dwell in the world of disease/disorder what–ifs for myself, my family, or my cows. What could have caused her to die? The list is long. Instead, I’m going to try to stay focused on the cows I’ve had who’ve never been sick, the many pregnancies/deliveries that went well, and the many years I’ve been blessed with an abundance of milk.
At about 3 a.m. that night, my bull Samson started making strange sounds. It concerned me so I got up and walked to the window and opened it so I could listen more closely. None of my cows were out and about or making any noise but his unusual sound was more like a growl that ended in a high-pitched whimper. I’ve never heard that kind of noise coming from him before. I thought about driving down to where he was but then realized the snow hadn’t been shoveled off my jeep for a few days. I thought about walking down to where he is but told myself to quit worrying so much. Besides, what could I do for a bull in the middle of the night. He has access to two BarBarA waterers so it’s unlikely he was out of water and Nick and I had fed him together that evening and he and Charlie had seemed fine. I went back to bed wondering if a bull like Samson can start to get weird if they go too long without servicing a cow, or maybe coyotes had gotten too close, on and on. I am remembering now that when I lost my cow, Emma, a few years ago in the night, my bull Milky Way was bellowing strangely so I got out of bed and went down to check on him and found Emma, but she was too far gone to save. In the future, I’ll not ignore a bull that might be reacting to a cow in trouble. Had I gone out, I would have stopped to check on my girls. I have my bloat kit handy. In fact, I’d recently organized my bloat supplies and placed them on a shelf in the milking parlor. I have no idea if I could have helped her but I could have tried.
If I get any new insights once I speak with a veterinarian, I will share them.
|25 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
|Posted - Jan 02 2016 : 06:00:35 AM
Maryjane I am so sorry for your loss. Just take time to heal. I have been gone. Catching up in things.
|Posted - Dec 31 2015 : 7:19:41 PM
Sage advice Cindy, rash versus cause for contemplation. Road blocks or road signs? Getting stuck in a reaction seldom offers a solution. Only a new direction or an off ramp can do that.
|Posted - Dec 31 2015 : 11:03:23 AM
mary jane, after we lost our second baby daughter lover boy and i made some serious decisions and everyone told us we were crazy. all the books say don't make serious decisions for at least the first 6 months when grieving. but those decisions were the best we ever made in our life, and we haven't looked back in over 10 years. seriously.
what i came to realize is that you don't make rash decisions while grieving or after momentous events, but you do sit back and take stalk of your life... and if it leads you to realize something you have been considering in the back of your mind for a while and just brings that to the forefront then its a valid consideration. that isn't a rash decision, thats just contemplation and recognizing what you need in life.
although all events leading up to your situation are crummy to say the least, what better time than the new year to look at everything and either embrace what you have been doing, or perhaps tinker with it a bit to get where you want to go?
follow your heart. you are doing great things in your life, but sometimes you can only do a million things and not a million and one ;>
|Posted - Dec 31 2015 : 10:30:41 AM
Thanks, Keeley. I'm going to copy and paste this site onto a new topic so I can find it easily.
|Posted - Dec 31 2015 : 09:58:57 AM
Here's the site I found, Charlene. I have to do a little more research as far as how to collect it, if I need a kit from them etc. Just haven't taken the time to be really in depth yet.
|Posted - Dec 30 2015 : 9:20:29 PM
You can send in milk samples for a pregnancy test? Where do you send it to?
|Posted - Dec 30 2015 : 6:13:33 PM
By all means, take time to grieve, MaryJane. You have more on your plate than most "normal" people and when you have losses and so much to do sometimes it piles up for later until you just can't keep going. In the end you will do what feels right to you. If that is breeding, great, if not something else will speak to you.
I don't know if Elli is pregnant or not. (My newbie is showing again.) She did have a little blood after her last AI which you all helped me decide wasn't a reliable sign of pregnancy. I didn't see any definite signs of heat when she was last due to come in, but just a few days ago (about 5 weeks from AIing) she had a little slime. I don't know if that is good or bad. She didn't show any other signs of heat. I'd like to send in a blood test, but my vet just closed her practice and I haven't found another one yet. I don't want to draw the blood myself, so I think I'm going to send in her milk to be tested instead. You can send in samples as early as 28 days after breeding, but hormones are more measurable after 56 days. I'm going to wait a little longer and watch for other signs of heat and if there are none we'll do a milk sample. That way I don't have to be the one to cause Elli pain. I think we would both be babies about it.
|Posted - Dec 30 2015 : 09:51:44 AM
Give yourself some time, MaryJane, to recover from this past weekend's traumatic events.
|Posted - Dec 29 2015 : 11:37:40 PM
Thanks everyone. I think it’s fair to say I have some battle fatigue setting in, so your kindnesses are well-disposed. I need to make sure I’m doing a good job with not only my cows but everything else on my plate. My family and employees depend on me to stay on top of things and manage my time and emotions wisely. Julie was scheduled to come out this morning so Connie offered to come out also. Julie and I got the girls milked (Fanci and Finnegan are perfectly fine being separated but Fanci gave us no milk today, a gallon at best) while Connie did the mucking. Afterward, the three of us pulled up some buckets, sat down in the milking parlor, and talked. We went over the details of Rosetta’s death; we talked about the ongoing training of various different cows; and we talked about the realities of “being a breeder.” Is being a breeder what I even want to do at this point after loosing two calves in a row and a cow like Rosetta, some four years in the making? Perhaps I should be providing enough milk for my family (and Connie and Julie’s families:) and leave it at that. As happenstance would have it, Ashley showed up early today and decided today was the day to try making an entirely new cheese using her own Artisan recipe she’s been going over in her head. So, my list definitely includes cheese making. And then there’s my bread book I was going to do nothing but work on starting the day after Christmas and so far haven’t even thought about until just now.
Jasper is purring away in my lap and it’s time for me to catch a few ZZZZZZs too. Coffee in the a.m. dear friends!
Keeley, is Elli pregnant?
|Posted - Dec 29 2015 : 8:42:49 PM
I am thankful that you, MaryJane, go ahead and search for causes. It helps all of us but also it must help you to be able to put some closure on this and know that you did all that you could. One of those freak things that are possible.
Keeley, I was taking an online class tonight as well ... a nutrition class.
|Posted - Dec 29 2015 : 7:41:53 PM
MaryJane, I am so sorry for your loss. I made myself finish my online class before I got back on here to see all of you again, and now I'm wishing I hadn't. It seems like hard times on the farm for you lately, but please remember how much you have taught all of us and how much we have all been able to provide for our families as a result. You provided the confidence a lot of us needed to "have a cow." Thank you for putting all of your knowledge out there for us to learn from, even in a difficult time. Wishing you peace.
|Posted - Dec 29 2015 : 1:57:18 PM
i am so sorry. knowing the cause doesn't take away the loss, but perhaps you'll sleep better knowing there is nothing anyone could have done. so don't even think of moving that cot permanently into the barn ;> you do need some rest once in awhile mary jane.
blessings from texas. sally and elsa send their love, they are happy and healthy and loved.
|Posted - Dec 29 2015 : 1:54:10 PM
It's still a loss and doesn't make the loss hurt any less. And it would be nearly impossible to do anything to prevent it from happening. Just a freak thing. I would think a cow would be even more difficult to move than a horse. I have hills, dips, ditches. It's impossible to watch everything every minute. It's just difficult to grasp these things. I'm sorry MaryJane.
|Posted - Dec 29 2015 : 1:26:35 PM
Apparently, Rosetta's fate was "cast" (see Janet's link above). I called the WADDL pathologist this morning first thing. I'd made the mistake of reading more about cattle diseases last night and wanted to see if he was also looking for the possibility of neosporosis. It's a parasite that causes abortion in cows anywhere from 3.5 months to 8 months gestation. The most common carrier of this parasite is dogs. He was set to call me. "No need to test for neosporosis." We haven't seen that in our area and where they do have it, it's a dog management problem."
Rosetta died of free-gas bloat and not frothy-feed bloat. So food wasn't the culprit. He didn't find tell-tale foam in her stomach. She got stuck on her side, ending up in the far side of her shelter where her head ended up downhill by about 2 inches. Where they sleep doesn't drop off that much, if at all, but there in the corner where they've walked up and into their feeding and sleeping area by "cutting the corner," their feet have rearranged some of the wood chips just before they come onto the black mat area. There isn't a drop-off, just a slight and gradual incline. She wasn't on any ice and the surface of the black matting wasn't slick (it was coated with straw), unless one of them had recently urinated in that exact spot. Her back was against a wall.
Her fetus was indeed a bull and nothing was wrong with her pregnancy. The placenta was still intact, etc.
Looking in the other direction (away from the edge of her shelter where her head was), she had ten feet that was empty when I found her but perhaps another one of the cows was in that spot and they both wanted to be against the wall while they slept. Even so, there would be plenty of room--they're small cows. That entire area had only three cows in it that night--Rosetta, Eliza Belle, and Lacy Lou. None of them dominate the other. When I fed them that night, they saw me and came to be fed. I'm sure they stood in their designated places until they were done. Her death isn't something I could have prevented. I've walked around looking at all the many places that are similar. It would be impossible to somehow fix them unless I did something like put my cows into hammocks every time they slept. Although I could have gotten up when Samson was acting/sounding strange and if she was still alive then, perhaps rolled her away from the wall or pulled her head back into the shelter and righted it or put her head into my lap, similar to what Janet and Joe did for their horse that was down--move her to her other side somehow--roll her over-- get her up. I asked him for statistics and he said that in the past year he's seen only five cases of free-gas bloat, in both beef and dairy cows. So, it's not very common. WADDL provides necropsy services for several states.
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 9:22:43 PM
well as a group we'll all worry together, lose sleep together, and cry together. over the good times and bad.
good night miss mary jane, hugs to you.
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 8:51:42 PM
When I dropped Rosetta off today at WADDL (Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab), the pathologist went over the photos I'd taken and asked me a bunch of questions. He thought he might be able to call me as soon as tomorrow morning with some preliminary findings.
Cindy, as a group I assume we're subject to statistics. Maybe it's like that Robin Williams movie where he's standing with a real estate agent looking at a house for sale and a plane falls out of the sky and hits the house. Robin says, "I'll take it. That'll never happen again."
Having lost a house to fire once, I don't worry about it happening again. Hopefully, I used up our bloat stat:)
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 8:13:32 PM
i am going to admit that when i first read this post by mary jane, at the same time that i was filled with such sorrow and compassion for such a great lady i was also freaked out in a selfish way. i mean, if this can happen to miss mary jane the ultimate farmgirl then what are the odds that a little wanna be milkmaid cow caretaker like me can avoid this? totally self-absorbed thought, but i can't help it. its like hearing something happened to the neighbor's hubby and going home and hugging yours a bit tighter and longer that night... i think everyone here would understand, we are all giving while also obsessed with our bovines.
sending kind and loving thoughts to idaho from east texas
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 3:12:41 PM
You can worry about everything Charlene, but it won't make a difference sometimes. And, you can look out over the pasture and see your cows lying down and not even know they are in trouble. You would have to watch for a while. The only reason I knew our horse was in trouble, only two came up to eat, so I went out to the pasture and there she was lying with her legs up hill, fighting to right herself. She was totally wore out. Joe and I had to tie ropes to her legs, rock her and get her over to opposite side, where she got up. She staggered a while, but came out of it alright. Just one of those things. Just never know.
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 2:16:04 PM
The link you posted, Janet, was interesting. I had no idea. Good grief, now I'm starting to worry about my pastures and fields. But Cindy is right ... none of us, not even MaryJane, can watch over our cows 24/7.
I do remember when we took Clover over to WSU vet for her yearly check up that when she was on the tilt table for her hoof trim, everyone was working quickly ... four student vets, one for each hoof. I was timing it as the vet told me Clover couldn't be on her side more than 20 minutes. As I was timing it, I also saw her side getting bigger and bigger. I guess bloat could really come on incredibly fast!
On another fun note, your pugs look mighty comfortable in their chair, Cindy!
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 1:39:04 PM
mary jane, thanks for the update. i know if you hear any info from the doctor it will help you with some closure. just remember that you need to get your sleep so you can't be out here with all your cows 24/7 ;>
glad dr sarah's products are working for you, i love them.
blessings from east texas. hugs from sally, elsa and the pugs
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 09:37:03 AM
I am so sorry to hear about your Rosetta and know your cows receive the best care in the world. I believe your results will benefit all of us striving to provide the best care possible to our herds. ;(
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 06:51:54 AM
So sorry to hear about Rosetta Mary Jane. She definitely was given the best life possible while she was with you. Thank you for keeping us updated and allowing us to learn from the situation.
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 03:45:51 AM
|Posted - Dec 28 2015 : 03:09:07 AM
Just from your description MaryJane of finding Rosetta on her side with head downward, add the pregnancy weight and it very well could be she couldn't get up in that position. If you remember back a year or more, I had a horse that did the very same thing, and had we not found her when we did we wouldn't have been able to help her and she would have died. Like you say, it doesn't take long in that position for them to succumb. It will be interesting to see what they determine. My heart goes out to you, I'm so sorry.
|Posted - Dec 27 2015 : 8:09:53 PM
Charlene, I spoke with Dr. O'Connell today about all things bloat and asked about the possibility of a genetic predisposition. She shrugged it off with something like, "We don't really see that; bloat seems to be so random." She asked if any of the cows had sniffles, etc. My answer was, "No, not even a hint of anything respiratory." She also suggested I check on the rest of my cows regularly for a few days.
Nick and I ran out of light on Saturday to get Rosetta buried because we had to take the snow plow off the tractor (usually a four-person job) so Nick decided it would be a good idea to figure out a system to turn it into a one-person job and that ended up involving a trip to town for parts. (Thanks to Ethan for offering to help; that meant a lot to us.) By the time we were ready to put the backhoe on, the day was over. I checked on her first thing this morning in the clearing where we had her and nothing had bothered her yet, which is fortunate because when I told Connie and Julie we'd lost Rosetta, Connie encouraged me to call a veterinarian. I'm glad I did, although I felt more comfortable calling today rather than yesterday. The frigid temps are a good thing because it's helping preserve her. Nick and I loaded her in the back of my farm truck this morning, covered in a tarp and strapped in. I'll take her to WADDL's loading dock in the morning where they have a hoist. They'll do a necropsy as best they can at this point in time. They can do things like biopsy an eye for nitrate poisoning or a magnesium deficiency--two things that can cause sudden death. They'll also biopsy the liver, etc. and look at the fetus. I'll know more after I drop her off and speak with them.
Dr. O'Connell also said that sometimes a cow gets on her side and a bit over onto her back with her head pointing down and can't get back up, which is how we found Rosetta. It's the tilt table 20-minute rule. In a compromised position, they can't go much longer than 20 minutes without being able to let off the gases being made in their stomach (belch) or they start to bloat.
I’ve been thinking every detail of Rosetta’s death also, Charlene. I truly appreciate that bloat is like yelling fire. It’s unsettling at best and probably a cow owner’s worst fear. Knowing the cause of Rosetta’s bloat goes hand in hand with prevention and peace of mind. I will try to get as many answers as possible.
On a positive note, I amped up the time Finnegan was separated from Fanci today and they were both perfectly okay with it. He nibbled on some of his own food and took a long nap for several hours. I put them together for nursing and then separated them again. Tomorrow night, I’ll put him by himself all night, milk Fanci first thing in the morning, wait a couple of hours and then put them together again. The reason I started to increase the time they’re separated is because the two teats he favors were chapped this morning when I milked her and she was clearly uncomfortable when I handled them. Ouch. Dr. Sarah to the rescue. (Thanks Cindy for getting me started on her products; love them.) And I noticed what I think was a tooth mark. He’ll be two months old January 9. But so far no moo-ing when separated for as long as six hours. I hope it continues to be easy.
Megan treated us to a ham, baked bean, scalloped potato dinner today. She used the three-cheese scalloped potatoes recipe in my book. But this time the three different cheeses are abundant in our cheese cellar! It was a delicious and proud moment for all of us. If you haven’t tried that recipe, put in on your menu for tomorrow.