The Covid-19 lockdown has provided a fair bit of time to reflect. It was during one of those periods of reflection that I started to wonder what was the piece of kit in my truck that I would least like to be forced to give up? Along the lines of Desert Island Discs where by default you get a copy of the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, I think that a farm vet at least deserves a stethoscope, thermometer, a box of rectal gloves and a bottle of lube but then what?
Surprisingly it didn’t take me long to decide…. it has to be my trusty SELEKT Pump-Drencher. I acquired mine some 11 years ago shortly after I joined LLM and bar a couple of replacement hoses that have either been accidentally chewed, trodden on by a cow or driven over, it is still going strong. Can I put a value on it? That’s hard to quantify but it’s undoubtedly saved many a cow’s life so if I was a farmer, I reckon I’d put that down as a great return on the few hundred quid of investment to purchase one. What’s more, they come with a lifetime of free replacement moving parts which effectively means it will never die if looked after properly. I may well be preaching to the converted here because an increasing number of clients now possess one of these pumps so all that remains to say is if you haven’t got one, I would think seriously about adding one to your equipment list. I guarantee that you will not regret it because it truly is a life saver. Many clients who have one tell me how they can’t believe how they managed before they had it.
Once you have purchased your pump you need to know what to deliver with it. It is also worth a recap for existing users because recent years have seen a growth in supplementary products available to administer via the pump system. Even if you only administer warm water via pump to an “off colour” or freshly calved cow, this is a step in the right direction, but we would encourage you to go further and add supportive supplements to the water to gain even more benefit.
The SELEKT Clinical Nutrition Formulae
The SELEKT range is tried and tested and has been developed with veterinary input using sound scientific principles to create a range of specific products for specific indications. We have been using them very effectively for many years now and they form the core of our recommended oral fluid supplements. It is worth noting that more or less anyone can produce a sachet or powder to add to water to pump into a cow so please be aware that they are not all equal despite what you may get told. Many are bulked out with cheap fillers such as glucose and milk powder which primarily help make the mix palatable so that cows may drink them voluntarily – perhaps easier for you but not necessarily as effective at dealing with the cow’s underlying issue – after all “medicine” rarely tastes nice!
SELEKT Fresh Cow 500
This sachet targets fresh cows at point of calving. It will reduce the risk of milk fever and subclinical milk fever by delivering plenty (108g) of calcium and ketosis by delivering glucose precursors. It contains yeast to stimulate the rumen and by administering it in 20L of water it helps fill the rumen to reduce the potential void that the abomasum can drift into (leading to LDA) and also corrects dehydration a very common finding in the fresh cow. One sachet given at point of calving is usually enough but if a cow subsequently goes on to develop milk fever then the high level of calcium it provides is an extremely useful supportive therapy at this time.
SELEKT Off Feed
This sachet is designed for cows that have stopped eating for example in early lactation or following surgery. It is effectively a boosted version of SELEKT Fresh Cow 500 so boasts all the benefits noted earlier. The key difference to SELEKT Fresh Cow 500 is that it contains potassium which is extremely important for anorexic dairy cows to correct the mild to moderate low blood potassium caused by reduced potassium intake. Additionally it contains gentian root, recognised to stimulate appetite. Only ever give one sachet of either SELEKT Fresh Cow 500 or SELEKT Off Feed in any 12 hour period.
This sachet is specifically designed to treat rumen acidosis most commonly caused by carbohydrate (corn) overload. Personally I have also found it useful in treating cows with a non-specific diarrhoea.
Whilst we primarily use the SELEKT range, there are a couple of other products that we use as alternatives which are certainly worth mentioning:
This sachet is used to correct basic dehydration caused for example by diarrhoea, severe mastitis or metritis. It is essential that it is delivered in 20L of warm water to maintain the correct balance of electrolytes. If a cow is more severely dehydrated then administer two SELEKT Restore sachets in 40L of warm water and so on. I have heard of people administering calf oral rehydration therapy to adult cows. This should not be done because whilst calves tend to become acidotic, adult cows tend to become alkalotic and so calf oral rehydration therapy would tend to worsen this situation. SELEKT Restore contains a balance of electrolytes designed to correct the abnormalities most commonly caused by dehydration. SELEKT Restore can be administered at the same time (separate bucket) as a sachet of either SELEKT Fresh Cow 500 or SELEKT Off Feed if the cow is dehydrated when freshly calved or suffering concurrent dehydration following a period of anorexia.
YMCP Fresh Cow
This fresh cow sachet does have the benefit that some eight out of ten cows will voluntarily drink it if it is presented to them at the point of calving. Something that won’t happen with SELEKT Fresh Cow 500. It is a product widely used in the US with good results and we have several clients who use it in this way. It can also be pumped into cows and its formulation, whilst perhaps arguably not quite as good as the SELEKT equivalent, makes it a very reasonable cost effective alternative that I personally use on a regular basis.