All four of us were enjoying sending the cows to the crop this afternoon sun when we realised something was wrong with one of our young cows. 1201 is not normally at the back of the herd but this afternoon she just wanted to bumble along slowly. This little cow is extra special to me because she was the first calf to be born after I took over the reins of the family farm and I always smile when I see her. Not today.
As I drew up beside her, I saw she was breathing heavily and to my horror, I found orange mucus trickling from her nostrils. We called the vet and nudged her gently along the track to the crush for an examination.
Pete arrived and checked for sugars in her urine, smelled her manure and found mucus in it, listened to her gut, heart and lungs, then reached into her gullet. The diagnosis: salmonella. Pete took a blood sample to confirm the diagnosis and ascertain the strain so we can respond appropriately if more cows fall ill, prescribed a course of antibiotics to fight the infection and delivered fluids straight to her gut to keep her hydrated.
We suspect the source of the contamination may have been the wildlife attracted by the crop and the dam (ducks love eating rape). Because salmonella infections in cattle can be passed on to humans, we will be washing our hands with the zeal of Lady Macbeth from now on.
The little cow is now in quarantine close to the house where we can keep an extra close eye on her and offer plenty of TLC.