Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You learn something new everyday

posted by AndresSo, I’m farmer Andres, and this is my first blog. Todd has asked me to contribute to the Wagner Feed this year and to be perfectly honest I’ve been thinking about what to write about for the last two weeks or so. Well, let me clarify, I’ve been trying to figure out how to start my first blog, because I know what I want to talk about but have never written a blog before (and this is how I figured I’d start). I have only been a farmer for a short while, and am loving every minute of it, as well as learning new things every day. Today I would like to share with you all something that I learned the other day and after I learned this fact I shared it with pretty much everyone I know, needless to say some of my friends got a little fed up with it. I heard a lot of; “dude, you told me about this yesterday”. Mind you this happens a lot, seeing as I learn something new about farming almost every day and love to share knowledge.
So, did you know that most cows have magnets in their stomachs? It came as a surprise to me as well. This information was brought to light a few weeks back when Daisy, one of our heifers, turned 1 year old and Farmer Jeff informed me that for her birthday instead of cake she was getting a magnet. Confused by this, I asked him to clarify, and out of his pocket he pulled a rod about 2.5 inches long ¾ inch in diameter and it was magnetic. This magnet is given to a cow around that age and remains in the first compartment of their stomach for the rest of their life. You may be asking yourself, “why does a cow need a magnet in their stomach? The answer is a thing called Hardware Disease, which basically means the ingestion of foreign materials, and it is considered a disease because it is contagious. Using the definition of contagious loosely, our vet told me that it is considered contagious because the foreign objects can be present in the hay which is eaten by multiple cows. (I know, it’s a stretch but that’s what the vet said.) The magnet itself is administered to the cow orally with a balling gun. A balling gun, for those who don’t know, is like a long stainless steel syringe type thing in which you insert the magnet, or pill, to be delivered orally, then you stick it down their throat a little ways hit the plunger and it drops into their stomach. The magnet stays there due to its weight and its job is to catch any piece of metal that the cow swallows and basically fixes it in their first stomach so that it cannot be regurgitated with the cud. If the cow was able to regurgitate it then the foreign object has more chances to tear up the esophageal tract and by fixing it in their first stomach it just sits and causes no harm. Mind you, a lot of the foreign objects cows consume now a days are not ferrous, but back when this practice was started plastics were not as prevalent on the farm. Either way, magnets are still administered to cows as a precautionary measure for Hardware Disease. So, the next time you walk by a cow and feel your keys being pulled from your pocket you will know why. (I’m just kidding, the magnets aren’t that strong.)