The What, the when and the why
We have a very strict policy of no antibiotics being used on any of the cows.
Because we want to have a herd that has not been exposed to anti-biotics, especially with the superbugs that are now a response of antibiotic resistance.
Several years ago, I discovered that anti-biotic resistance was going to have catastophic consequences, through conversations with doctor friends and also a friend who studied antibiotic resistance. Every 7 years they develop a new antibiotic and every 4 years the bugs become resistant
It was a very scary decision to make, and 8 years later I couldn't be happier.
The hardest part of this decision is when we have people that come to work for us that have worked on other farmers and relied on antibiotics as a managed tool, and they can't understand that we don't need to use this drug. They will try and have antibiotics on hand, just in case, it's like a security blanket, and they are confused as to how we would treat our sick cows. My theory is that if our cows are sick and need antibiotics, then we are doing something wrong and we need to find what is causing the sickness. We should not have sick animals providing us with food.
HOW DO WE MANAGE WITHOUT ANTIBIOTICS
We changed the way we manage our farm. We reduced our stocking rates, removed grain from their diet and replaced it with fodder crops. We keep a younger herd and retire the older cows to a smaller farm. We changed the breed of the cows from straight friesian, to cross breds to take advantage of the cross bred vigour.
If a cow does get mastitis, it generally clears up on its own, in fact around the same time it would take to treat the mastitis. Or the cow gets a different job, which may be raising a calf.
We provide the cows with minerals and allow the pastures to have a variety of species including herbs, some of which may be considered weeds by other farmers.
We keep the stock calm, lower stocking rates reduce the stress. A grain free diet reduces inflammation. Genetically diverse cow improves heatlh