Thursday, 22 June 2017
At around the same time as we started on feeding out our first hay bale from the most recent harvest, she went off her food. It coincided with a number of movements around the farm, but our first thought was that she didn't like the new hay.
We brought in a bale of expensive lucerne hay, a real treat to all grass eating stock, but she wouldn't eat that either!! Her condition deteriorated and bones started poking out where we'd never seen before. Ribs and hip bones are commonly visible on dairy cows, but she's a dairy crossed with a beef breed, so her build has always been round with well covered bones. All symptoms suggested a sore tooth or tongue, maybe an abscess. Many phone conversations with a couple of dairy farmers with many years in the game, confirmed my suspicions.
Through all this she was still producing between ten and twelve litres of milk each day, and nothing I could do would slow down her milk production. I dropped back to milking once a day, hoping that would decrease her milk supply, but if the milk is there it must be milked out. I didn't want to dry her off completely, because I felt confident we would get her through this.
I called the vet who's initial visit confirmed our diagnosis, but he didn't have the required equipment with him to have a proper look inside her mouth, so he was due to return on Monday this week.
After walking off the trailer and bellowing his arrival to all in the valley surrounding us, he got down to the job of reacquainting with Lavender and then got stuck into the rack of hay.
What happened next left us both standing with our mouths open in disbelief... Lavender stood next to him and started gulping down the hay as fast as she could chew.
On Monday morning she was behaving like her old self again, and still eating the hay every time I filled the hay rack.
Only one conclusion could be made, she was love sick!
Poor Lavender had been trying to tell me all this time that she was lonely, she was missing her man about the place.
Some cows are quite happy to be on their own and are better for it, especially if they have been low down on the pecking order of the herd, and had been bossed around by the other cows. Lavender had always been the lowest in our herd, and she always kept away from the others lest they corner her and start shoving her around. Cows can be very mean and nasty to each other one minute, and grooming each other the next.
It seems that although Lavender had cows to talk to over the fence on the neighboring property, she was grieving for the company of her own herd.
I called the vet on Monday morning before he set off to call on us, and explained the situation, that she seemed in good health and probably no further treatment was necessary, but we would keep an eye on her over the next few days.
I can see her filling out and at this rate she will be back to her normal weight in a short time.
What a great cloud has lifted from my world. Happy days!