Doc’s Blog

Mineral Recommendations For One Cow

I was recently asked to recommend a mineral feeding program for one cow.  Not as easy at it sounds. There are many variables to consider and some of those variables change from day to day. 

While the optimum mineral program would be to provide the full array of Advanced Biological Products cafeteria style mineral program, that is not always feasible for one cow.

Here is a basic starter program.  

First of all, provide a way for the animal to self adjust the critical Calcium:Phosphorus ratio.  ABC’s Dairy 2:1 Mineral is a good source of Calcium and some other minerals and can be fed free choice.  Adding a self fed source of Phosphorus such as ABC’s P-Mix provides the opportunity to adjust the Ca:P ratio.  

Always have plain white salt available.

 Free choice kelp should also be fed as it is an excellent source for all trace minerals.  Feeding kelp free choice is sort of a diagnostic ploy, in that, excess consumption of kelp for over 4 to 6 weeks indicates a deficiency of one or more trace minerals. 

Eating dirt or chewing on wood are also indications of a mineral imbalance. The occurrence either of these two signs and/or excess kelp consumption would be a good indication to provide ABC’s 15 item Diagnostic Kit. 

For more background information on feeding minerals, check out these two sites:

Sir Albert Howard - A Pioneer

 Sir Albert Howard, an Englishman,  is known as The Founder of Modern Organic Agriculture.  In 1940 he published a book entitled “An Agricultural Testament” detailing his research on composting as a method of increasing soil fertility. 

On the research farm, in Indore, India, his work animals were fed with fresh green fodder, silage, and grain, all produced from fertile land.   None  were segregated and none were vaccinated.    His oxen ofter came in contact with diseased stock suffering from diseases such as rinderpest, septicaemia, and foot-and-mouth disease.   

He wrote:  “I have several times seen my oxen rubbing noses with foot-and-mouth cases.  Nothing happened.  The healthy well-fed animals reacted to this disease exactly as suitable properly grown varieties of crops did to insect and fungus pests -- no infection took place.”

A favorite quote that typifies his findings:  ”The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible.” 

Sir Albert’s book inspired J. I. Rodale to begin publishing the magazine Organic Gardening and Farming which was a powerful influence in the early organic movement in this country.  

Wormy Beef?

Chinese researchers claim to have produced calves with higher than normal levels of healthy Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

They accomplished this by “constructed a plasmid containing the codon-optimized gene known as “mfat 1,” derived from Caenorhabditis elegans, a type of non-parasitic nematode”. Then, using “somatic cell nuclear transfer” they transferred the gene into “ the primary fetal fibroblasts”.

I don’t understand all that scientific jargon but I think it’s safe to say that they genetically mixed worm tissue into the beef.  

I don;t care if it’s non-parasitic worms or not, I’d still rather get my extra omega-3’s from grass fed beef.

The report was published in Biotechnology Letters and is available online at:

Censors of Nature

In the 1830’s a devastating disease of swine called Hog Cholera or Swine fever apparently arose spontaneously on a hog farm in Ohio. For over a century this was one of the leading causes of disease in swine and as late as the 1960’s was costing the swine industry in excess of $50 million a year. 

In 1907 a vaccine had been developed that involved injecting a little dose of the virus along with some hyper-immune serum from hogs that had been previously vaccinated for the disease.   In 1951 the virulent live virus component was replaced with a modified live virus vaccine that still required the use of the serum. Improper use of these live vaccines contributed to many iatrogenic outbreaks of the disease.

For many years, the income derived from vaccinating swine for Hog Cholera was the financial mainstay of most veterinary practices in areas with large swine populations.  In 1961 the USDA mandated a Hog Cholera eradication program and all live or modified live vaccines were banned in 1969.  The nation was declared free of Hog Cholera in 1978.  This was hailed as a great success, but unfortunately, it wasn’t long before other, heretofore almost unknown, virus diseases of swine such as pseudo-rabies began to cost the swine industry almost as many dollars as had Hog Cholera before eradication.

Even if successful, vaccinations only protect against that particular organism and if the immune system is already compromised - malnutrition, stress, mineral deficiency, etc - the animals are easy prey for any other virus or germ lurking out there.    As illustrated above; when one virus is removed either by vaccination or eradication (Hog Cholera) the next virus in line (Pseudo-rabies) stepped up and functioned as a “Censor of Nature”.

Nature tends to eliminate or censor anything that does not meet her standards of excellence.    Weeds are attracted to a sick soil in an attempt to remedy the imbalances of minerals and organic matter in the soil.   Insects are attracted to sick crops as one of natures methods to eliminate sub-standard plants.  Germs and viruses are attracted to sick animals (and humans), to recycle inferior products.

The key to good health is not in a bottle of vaccine or antibiotic but in good nutrition and common sense holistic management of the environment. 

Bird Flu

The other day a fellow asked me what I thought about the bird flu epidemic in the central states.  I had to admit that poultry had never been part of my vet practice and my main poultry experience has been with grilled chicken breasts. 

However, upon reflecting on the problem a couple of things came to mind.   First question:  “What is the genetic diversity level of the affected flocks".  When a genetically diverse population is exposed to a disease not all get sick or die and some survive to carry on the species. This is the same mechanism that allows bugs to become immune to the effects of insecticides and weeds to become resistant to glyphosate.   I’m guessing that in the current situation the genetic diversity is quite low and the morbidity is very high.  Obviously, the mortality is 100% as all sick and exposed birds are depopulated to avoid spread to other vulnerable flocks. 

I also wonder about the vaccines used on these birds. There’s a lot of controversy about vaccines these days and like the old saying - “there are three sides to that story; yours, mine and the truth”.  I don’t think I’m the only one who is very skeptical of scientists playing around with mutated live viruses in the laboratory.  I have read that the incidence of disease is higher is some human population groups that have been vaccinated for that specific disease than in the unvaccinated population. 

What could happen if a highly susceptible population was exposed to a rogue laboratory virus … it sure makes one wonder!

Conventional vs Holistic

I am perplexed when I contemplate how to reconcile conventional allopathic veterinary medicine and livestock management with alternative or holistic veterinary medicine and livestock management.  There are many aspects to this problem and I would like to comment on a couple of basic concepts that might foster a more agreeable discourse not offensive to either side.

First of all, I believe that, if properly done, holistic or alternative management manages the health of animals in a "proactive" way to avoid common problems by attention to basic nutrition and immune support as the primary goal.   On the other hand, allopathic medicine kicks in when the animals show symptoms of illness or production decline. This is not necessarily a bad thing but ‘it is what it is’ - a “reactive" procedure to remedy a situation brought about by a breakdown in management. I am sure there is middle ground somewhere between the two sides. 

Another factor to be considered is the ultimate purpose of the animals being treated.  For example, some allopathic drugs might be totally acceptable to administer to a gelding and totally unacceptable for use in a breeding age mare destined to hopefully produce a health foal.   The same precept comes into play when we consider what is appropriate treatment for food producing animals as opposed to companion animals.  

The same concept applies to crop farming and poses the question - is the harvested grain destined for conversion to gasohol or synthetic plastics or is to slated to be eaten by us and our children or fed to food producing animals. It is my personal opinion that too many farmers strive for quantity instead of quality and overlook or ignore the fact that they are producing food for people to eat.

What do you think!