A recent report raised concerns regarding the illegal use of certain antibiotics by a handful of dairy farmers. Unlike beef cattle, and hogs, which are often given antibiotics as a preventative measure, dairymen will only administer antibiotics to a dairy cow when she’s sick. Any milk produced while the drugs remain in the cow’s system is discarded.
Because of the resulting loss in production, a small number of farmers have apparently resorted to using antibiotics not approved for use in dairy cows. Because milk shipments are tested for only commonly administered antibiotics, the use of these particular antibiotics allows the offending dairies to skirt food safety rules.
To be clear, this is not a widespread practice. In fact, only .4% of randomly collected samples had drug residues. Most dairies are highly conscientious with regards to food safety.
But the issue of herd health is of great importance to all livestock operations. Not only are medications and veterinary care expensive, but in the case of a dairy, there is a cost for care, and a cost in lost production.
What is the answer? As with humans, preventative actions are always much less expensive than the treatment of a sickness. To be sure, animals will be sick and sick animals must be treated, but the key is to reduce sickness and to minimize conditions which can cause it.
We often measure the value of hydroponic fodder simply in terms of it’s low cost relative to other feeds, but what about it’s value in terms of the health benefits it can help to bring about in your livestock? What if you could lower your vet bill by 10%, or 20% or more? What if you could keep more cows in production, experience higher fertility rates, and spend less time dealing with sick animals?
It has been noted that grains are a bit unnatural for a cow to eat. They are difficult to digest and produce acidic conditions in the rumen. They have been associated with acidosis, mastitis and foot problems. Cows are built to eat grass.
Most grass, however, won’t supply the nutritional needs of the milk-producing powerhouse that is the modern dairy cow. Keep a herd of dairy cows in a nice, green pasture all day long; they’ll be healthy for sure, but they won’t produce as much milk.
Fodder has been shown to combine the healthy enzymes, vitamins, digestibility and health producing benefits of fresh pasture grass, with the energy and protein content of grains. Ongoing research has demonstrated that fodder can replace dry grain without causing a loss in production and producing improvements in body condition at a lower cost. Fodder has been shown to change the rumen dynamic, improving it’s function and efficiency.
Our customers report significantly lower veterinary bills and antibiotic use, higher fertility rates and healthier livestock. We’re not sure we’d call fodder a magic bullet to solve all the problems of animal husbandry, but we feel confident it can produce significant measurable results. And by that, we mean healthier animals and bigger profits.