For all you non-cow or non-milk lovers out there, warning, “Avert your eyes!”
For all you cow and milk lovers out there, warning, “Don’t let this happen to you! Ahhhh!”
Poor Annabelle always has uneven quarters which don’t seem to dry up empty in past years, but I never knew if something was wrong. I have been keeping an eye on her pretty closely, since she had a bout of mastitis before I dried her up. I have not wanted to mess with her udder much, for fear she would let milk down, but recently she has had a very chapped and rough bag, and her left quarter in the back is the one which has remained pretty full since I dried her up. I have been putting lanolin and coconut oil on it, which has helped, but last night some clearish liquid began streaming out of that quarter, and it felt warm. All I could think of was when whey separates from curdled milk, and I wanted to get it out of there.
I searched and searched for information on if I should milk that stuff out, but could not find anything. I did learn a lot about one of my milking mistakes, and that is that I have not been using a teat dip. Most teat dips have chlorhexidine and other yucky stuff, so I have stayed away from them and just use my udder balm with lanolin, coconut oil, and tea tree oil, but obviously it is not enough.
I learned that mastitis occurs when bacteria enter the teat canal, and it is very important to use a teat dip, before and after milking, and especially when you dry up a cow. A dry cow does form a seal at the end of her teat when she is dry, but not all cows are successful, and the teat plug can become dislodged, allowing bacteria to enter. I prefer to go with an iodine teat dip, and most are a 10% povidone iodine solution which is a 1% titratable iodine concentration. Again, I could not find an iodine teat dip that did not have a bunch of other junk in it, and that was expensive, so I am ordering just 10% povidone iodine, and have changed my udder balm formulation to help with circulation and bacteria/virus control.
For those of you interested in iodine and why it is so vital, for humans and animals, this site is a great place to start, and then get this book, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, from Dr. Brownstein.
Finally in my search on if I can and should milk her out, I happily found this site, Organic Meadow Co-operative. This section on livestock healthcare had my answers.
“…The Dry Cow
The drying-off period is a stressful time for cows and is therefore a critical time for udder health. Making sure the cow has a strong immune system, including the use of immune-boosting products, can help. Dr. Richard J. Holliday, a well-respected holistic vet from Missouri, recommends preparing the cow’s immune system and then simply quitting milking her. Milking her out during this time only prolongs to process.
When the udder swelling begins to recede after five or six days, however, he recommends milking out the udder. Normal milk lets you know that the udder is healthy. Abnormal milk indicates the need for treatment, and the udder should be stripped out every few days for as long as necessary to clear the problem. Drying off the cow when she has an infection means that she will probably still have the same problem when she freshens.
Dr. Holliday also recommends “pre-milking” the cow when she has bagged up two or three weeks before freshening. If the fluid shows any signs of infection, treat the cow and milk her out twice a day until she calves. Cornell University research has shown that “pre-milking” reduces mastitis and milk fever by up to 50%. The cow will not produce colostrum until just prior to calving, so there is no worry about not having colostrum for the calf if the cow is pre-milked.
Dr. Holliday notes that these procedures will tell a farmer 100 percent more about udder health than the conventional practice of dry-treating and waiting until freshening to see if it worked…”
I also found the wonderful, original article by Dr. Holliday, which has more detail on mastitis and udder health.
So I milked her out and treated her, and will continue to do so until it clears up.
This is what her bag looked like before I cleaned her up.
and from the back you can see that her left rear quarter is swollen and that her skin is very rough and chapped.
I begin with warm water with colloidal silver in it, and wash her well with a microfiber cloth.
I feel bad that I let her skin get so dry. My friend Meike has had great success with giving vitamin A to clear up a dry and cracked udder in a few days, but I don’t have any today.
I also did not have straight 10% povidone iodine, but only trio dine which we use on wounds, or banding lambs… and it has 2.4% titratable iodine which I fear might be too strong and might sting, so I dilute it with warm water and colloidal silver. I also have proper teat dip cups on order, but mason jars work in a pinch.
To my regular “Annabalm” which is coconut oil and lanolin, I added, peppermint oil (for circulation), and tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, oregano oil, eucalyptus oil, for antibacterial and anti virus. For extreme cases of cracking and dryness add more lanolin than coconut oil than the usual 50/50 combination.
Massage it into her entire bag, not just her teats, and this will help the essential oils penetrate into her bag and help with circulation and expel the infection.
This is what came out of her front right quarter, which was the one she had mastitis in before I dried her up.
and the other two quarters in the back I just milked into this same jar, and it was free of mastitis and was just milk, but mixed with what came out of the front quarter, it is still gross.
I was able to milk out over a half gallon of really gross liquid from her swollen back quarter, and there was no clumps of milk. The technical term for this stuff is serous exudate, and it had no odor, but will definitely turn your stomach. Poor Annabelle! She seemed very happy for me to get that out of there, whew! I made sure to go inside the house often and wash my hands well, before milking any other quarters, so not to cross contaminate.
After completely stripping each teat I dipped her in the iodine solution again.
an liberally applied the udder bam, massaging her whole bag well, and making sure enough was on the teat openings.
It is apparent the the top part of her left rear quarter is swollen. I was able to get out all the liquid from her bag, and hopefully in the next few days her swelling will go down. I will continue to milk out that quarter twice a day until she is all healed up.
I also gave her the homeopathic remedy, pulsatilla, thanks to my smart friend Kelli. 😉