Innovations and outside-the-box thinking are happening in every industry in every part of the world. Agriculture is no exception.
Last summer, one of our cattle nutritionists told us about an unconventional way to fight “crypto” in our baby calves. Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites, Cryptosporidium, that can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal.
Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as “crypto.” The crypto bug causes the calves, or even humans, to become dehydrated and very ill.
It can lead to hospitalizations or even death. Calves are usually infected with crypto parasites from one to four weeks of age.
In my calves, I will see it from 10-14 days if they are infected by it. It’s a very costly disease for animals because it can cause death, it costs calves growth and the costs add up for medications to treat them.
The nutritionist told us you can give calves a teaspoon of coconut oil twice a day with their milk to kill the crypto parasites.
When I heard that, I thought, “Huh? No way! That is so crazy!” But, because in the summer months farmers fight with flies and dehydration and those are bad combinations for calves, I thought I’d give it a try.
It took some time to experiment to figure out exactly how to give it to the calves and the correct amount.
I also had to figure out how long I need to feed it and work out the kinks. After I started, I’ve had three cases of crypto and all the calves are doing well now with the last case observed in October. It’s an inexpensive and natural alternative that seems to be doing the trick.
Last week, I read an article from Hoard’s Dairymen that I found very interesting. It was featured on their “Top Blogs of 2017” and was written by a farmer in Pennsylvania.
The author was sharing her story about thinking outside the box by using apple cider vinegar to treat scours in her baby calves. Calf scours is not a single disease; it is a clinical sign associated with several diseases characterized by diarrhea.
Regardless of the cause, diarrhea prevents the absorption of fluids from the intestines; also, body fluids pass from the scouring calfs body into the intestines. She gives them a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in their milk twice a day until they are a month old.
She doesn’t know the reason why, she just said she is down to a 1% death loss.
She said, “Bottom line? Never be afraid to try something a little out of the box. My favorite farm hacks, often come from half mumbled offhand comments that we research, discuss, then try.”
I thought it was really interesting, so I shared the article on my personal Facebook page and discussed a little bit about my coconut oil experiment.
Quite a few people ask me about it.
Some people were farmers around my age that wanted to try something outside the box for their calves.
Some were people that were just interested in knowing and learning about different innovations that farmers are trying.
Just like the Hoard’s Dairymen author, I’ve learned to try a new farm hack, share my findings, and share with others it could help.
While we are no where near tropical paradise, my calves are enjoying a taste of it with the coconut oil in their milk.