Monthly Archives: March 2013


CRE...The New, Deadly Bacteria
There's a new  family of bacteria resistant to ALL known antibiotics. It kills nearly half of the patients infected with it.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls this a "nightmare" bacteria. CRE stands for Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae. It's not found in the general population, yet. One-in-24 hospitals in the United States are infected with the CRE bacteria, it's  also found in nursing homes.  The truly frightening progression of this bacteria is it's ability to spread resistance to other bacteria.
“These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat,” said Thomas Frieden, director at CDC,  “They’re resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria.” One of the insidious behaviors of this bacteria; It's evolving.  It’s “the biggest threat to patient safety in the hospital we have,” said Costi Sifri, an infectious disease physician at the University of Virginia Health System, “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anything is slowing their spread.”
Could antibiotics in animal feed have contributed to this? So far, a connection hasn't been made. In my opinion logic and common sense would lead to this conclusion. The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) urged for the banning of antibiotics in animal feed.   They're also calling for stricter guidelines regarding the human use of antibiotics. The OMA in a report titled, "When Antibiotics Stop Working" explained that doctors are facing the extinction of one of the most fundamental and life-saving tools in medicine - effective  antibiotics.
Seventy percent of all antibiotic consumption in the USA is used up by the farming industry - most is used in livestock feed.  In livestock production antibiotics are used to promote growth, not health. Combined resistance to multiple antibiotics has been found in E. coli and Klebsiella pneumonia. When will the excessive use end?
In 1977, the US FDA concluded that adding antibiotics for human medicine to livestock feed raised the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Peter Lehner, from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) asked why nothing has been done over the last 35 years.  Lehner said:

"More than a generation has passed since FDA first recognized the potential human health consequences of feeding large quantities of antibiotics to healthy animals. Accumulating evidence shows that antibiotics are becoming less effective, while our grocery store meat is increasingly laden with drug-resistant bacteria. The FDA needs to put the American people first by ensuring that antibiotics continue to serve their primary purpose - saving human lives by combating disease."

Here at Forest Hill Farm we don't use antibiotics in feed. Cattle and sheep only eat grass. Pigs and poultry aren't fed ANY antibiotics.

More food for thought!

Cattle Quiz: What cattle eat 678 always loves to have her picture taken


 Click on the links to see what some farmers are feeding their livestock.
Cattle are ruminants. Ruminants eat grass, at least they should. Here's a simple quiz to test your knowledge. If you guess correctly  you should  become a cattle farmer, we need common sense producers.
1. Cows eat...
If you guessed 'A' you're one smart cookie! However, both B and C are being used as cattle feed. The biggest shocker is that University scientists and veterinarians aren't admonishing these alternative feed practices, they're studying them  Read more here
2. Cattle's rumens are designed to digest...
a. Grass
b. Gummy worms
c. Sawdust
e. All of the above
I tried to throw you off with the potato chips. If you guessed 'A' you're right again, kind of. These day's  'All of the above' (excluding 'A' as an answer) might be correct. Grass is very expensive, especially if it's on ground that could have gone into corn production so cheaper alternatives are being fed to cattle at an alarming rate.
3. Cattle need _____________ to thrive...
b. Gummy worms, antibiotics, hormone implants
c. Sawdust, antibiotics, hormone implants
d. Potato chips, antibiotics, hormone implants

If you guessed 'A' congratulations again! You might know more about feeding cattle than some farmers. Don't you feel smarter already?


Schroeder-Thomas Splint


Some years spring comes early, calving is uncomplicated. Other years, like this one, spring is nowhere around. Despite the cold temperatures the cows deliver calves. As a precaution we brought the cows in the barnyard where they could get under the shed roof. There's protection from freezing rain or snow here. Under the shed are straw bales and stalk bales for bedding. Round bales of hay fill the feeders under the roof and in the yard outside. Most of their days are spent in the open air, they come in freely when the weather is severe. The calves prefer the open air, too. Lying up against the stalk bales and hay feeders the calves are barely visible. On March 20, the first day of spring, the temperatures in northeast Iowa struggled to get past the freezing mark. The calves all tucked themselves into the bedding. The cows standing over them added another layer of protection.

In the morning we noticed a lame calf. His leg was hanging at an awkward angle, loading him into the truck we took him to the vet's office. X-rays confirmed the hind leg was fractured cleanly through. Our best guess is that he was sleeping in the hay when one of the cows stepped on him.  The vet offered two options; euthanize him or do nothing and let the leg hang. Discouraged, Keith started researching other options. He discovered a description for the Schroeder-Thomas Splint. Keith and I made careful measurements of the calf's leg. From this we drew a template, Keith welded steel rod exactly as  presented in the instructions. The angles of the frame are critical for immobilizing the leg. The vet couldn't have been more supportive. He anesthetized the calf, reset the bone, and padded the splint and taped the leg into the frame. Throughout the procedure the cow bawled incessantly to her calf.

When the leg was set the calf and the cow were closed in a quiet area under the shed. So far the calf is adjusting well. He's able to get up and down, nurse, and move (awkwardly at first but he's getting better). He's being supplemented with comfrey to help heal his bones, and Hypericum.

UPDATE:   We've had several questions about the splint and how the calf responded. Here's a picture of a makeshift splint we made for him, to add extra support for the leg, after the Schroeder-Thomas Splint was removed. His leg was wrapped in vet wrap, with a wooden splint placed on the outside femur for support, then it was wrapped in duct tape to secure it. The splint/bandage was replaced every couple days. Eventually it was removed and he was able to keep pace with the herd.

Click Here for pictures shared by others

5-1-13 grazing CRP 007







Tracie from Montana made a few changes to the splint. Here's a link to an updated version  Thanks for sharing, Tracie!

Spot with Bottle
This is Spot, the lamb

Spot is one in a family of triplets. He's still nursing from his mom but 3 times a day he's getting a bottle,too.

I feel like the barn door is a Pez Dispenser, every time I open it another lamb or calf pops out. So far, we've had a whole bunch of new lambs and 7 new calves this month. Chloe and Lulu each had calves so they're back in the business of giving milk. Alice and Clarice are due in May and June.

Our timing is a little off this year. We usually plan on having calves and lambs a couple of weeks before the pasture is ready. This year the snow cover is causing a delay but the added moisture is welcome.

Early next month chicks, turkey pullets, ducklings and goslings will come to the farm. Our turkey hens are going down the road to rendezvous with a friend's toms. After they've been with the tom the eggs will be collected and saved. Kept cool, not cold, the eggs remain fertile but inactive for two weeks. When the hens come home we'll put their eggs into the nesting boxes and let them hatch their own eggs.

A farmer in Iowa is making headlines. He's being hailed as innovative for saving on feed costs by feeding his cattle sawdust. Perhaps even more unbelievable is that University officials, and his veterinarian are giving a nod to the alternative feed. What in the world are livestock producers thinking? Won't they be surprised when no one wants what they produce.

The apple, cherry, and peach trees have been pruned. The garden is waiting anxiously for new seedlings and the rototiller is tuned up and ready to go. All we need now is better weather.

The lane from the barn to the house is an icy slope. Every day it thaws just enough for the snow to melt little rivulets down to the barn. Night time temperatures are just low enough to re-freeze the slope. This morning as I was carrying a basket of eggs I slipped and crashed. All the eggs broke. Immediately I thought, 'Don't keep all your eggs in one basket', but having them in two wouldn't have helped.  Neither basket or carrier are a match for the ice. Keith fell twice yesterday and he has ice cleats on his boots. Ahh, March, the month with a little bit of everything.