by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© August 2013, The Center For Development, Inc.
Most important livestock animal on earth. Cows are one of the most important livestock animals, if not the most important, in the entire world. Millions, if not billions of people and even other animals depend upon the cow for milk, butter, meat, hide and other things. This article is a research report, and will change as I learn more about the care of cows using nutritional balancing principles. This article discusses basic feeding of cows, nutritional supplements for cows and a few other important topics.
BASIC NUTRITIONAL NEEDS OF COWS
Feed. Pastureland. The best food for most cows is fresh pasture land grasses. Rye, wheat, oats and others work very well. Cows are versatile animals and will convert other grasses and herbs into food for human beings, but pasture land is best.
Balancing their nutrition. Pasture has the added advantage that the cow can choose which field or area to graze in. This is important, as cows are able to balance their body chemistry if they are given enough area, generally, in which to graze. Soils differ and so does the mineral content of the grass. Cows are very good at mixing different types of grasses and environments to balance themselves daily. This is why cows should be allowed a free reign of a large pasturing area, ideally.
Hay or silage. The second best type of feed is silage, or dry hay. This is used in the wintertime when grass is not available in most nations. It is acceptable for cows, provided there is enough water to mix with the hay, as the hay is a dry food that is too dry by itself. Hay is also not green grass, by any stretch, and therefore it is not as good as pasture all year round, which is ideal.
Corn and other seeds or grains. The least desirable food for cows is grain such as corn. This, unfortunately, is what is fed to most cows today to fatten them for market. This is a bad habit. It puts on fat because it is the wrong food for the cow. It may produce a good steak with marbling, but it is not the best meat. The best is that produced by pasture land feeding, bar none.
Extra fat. Some cows need extra fat in their diets. These cows are fast oxidizers and require more fat in the diet. Farmers may not realize that if cows enjoy corn in the diet, for example, it may be because they want the corn oil, not all the starch. Other oil supplements are flaxseed oil or other vegetable oils. Animal fats are excellent such as chicken skin, suet or others, but are costly.
Water for drinking. A cow’s water supply is critical. If the cow is fed on pasture land, then water is less critical because a healthy cow will get a lot of moisture out of the grasses it eats. However, if the cow is forced to eat silage, hay or worse, grains, then the cow must have a lot of water to balance the dryness of these foods.
Iron and manganese in the water. A common problem in many wells is high levels of iron and manganese. These must be tested in the water. Water that is high in iron and/or manganese, or other metals, must be filtered to remove it. Otherwise the cows will sicken and perhaps even die.
Aluminum and other toxic metals. This is another problem of some water supplies. Sometimes the metals can be filtered out.
Toxic chemicals. Another problem of the water is toxic chemicals. This is worse in some areas, including America, where pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and other drugs have been used for years. Once again, the water should be tested for chemicals and drugs, and the water filtered if needed. In general, however, this is not as bad a problem as the toxic metals or high levels of minerals such as iron, manganese, copper and lead. These are among the most common contaminants of water in America, Europe and Asia.
Superphosphates or nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. An enormous problem with water in agricultural areas such as the American heartland is the presence of residues of N-P-K fertilizers in the drinking water supplies. These are not easily filtered out, but can sicken the cows.
Other water problems. Other problems with water include imbalanced pH, either too low or too high. This is not critical, but it stresses the animals. Also, the mineral content should not be too high, as this is a problem, too. Also, water must not be infected with parasites, bacteria or other germs. This is all too common in some wells in the Middle East, for example, where warring tribes intentionally poison the wells of their enemies to drive them away.
Poisoning wells is the most serious crime on the planet, in our view, and must be stopped before most water supplies are poisoned with things like arsenic, fluoride and infectious agents as well. It is easy to poison wells, unfortunately, so it is done by governments the world over, even in America and other developed nations. It is what may be called a silent killer of people and livestock, and even crops.
Rain water. If a cow’s drinking water is contaminated with iron, for example, giving the cows some distilled or rain water is a very good idea. The cows do not need a lot of rain water, and even a little is helpful for them.
Rain water can be collected in most areas. The key is that ALL the gutters, conduits and storage tanks must be made of plastic, not metal. This is because rain water will absorb minerals from metal pipes and gutters very easily, and this is not desirable, as they are not good forms of the minerals.
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR COWS
Without a few simple nutritional supplements, all cows are sickly today because the soil is depleted. Ideally, do a hair mineral test on a few cows in a herd to determine what they need. Below is a very rough guide, but not nearly as good as testing the herd:
In nutritional balancing science, a copper supplement will slow a rapid oxidation rate and will raise a low sodium/potassium ratio. These are two important problems of cows, especially in the USA. A reddish color of the fur, dermatitis or eczema, and pink eye are associated with a need for copper in many cases.
Other good mineral sources are fish-based mineral supplements and some rock-based supplements, although these must meet certain standards, as all rock mineral supplements are different.
Another is TMG or trimethylglycine, at a dose of about 8-10 mg/kg. This is a new finding and still being researched, so the amount may change.
Larger supplement programs are costly and usually not needed. Avoid most supplements including common mineral powders and others. However, sometimes other products are helpful:
For parasites. Garlic is excellent for parasites, but will cause cows milk and meat to have a garlicky odor. Instead, many farmers use bentonite or similar clay products. These work but are very high in aluminum, which is harmful. Cows with a low sodium/potassium ratio are more prone to parasites. Adding more copper to their feed may help this imbalanced ratio and may help kill parasites such as round worm cysts, as well. As the herd’s body chemistry comes into better balance using nutritional balancing science, they are able to resist parasitic infection much better, even without adding remedies.
Homeopathic remedies are generally not good and should not be used. Homeopathy is fascinating, but too difficult to do well and I discourage its use. It is not needed, just as most vaccines, hormones and medical drugs are not needed if one understands how to interpret a hair mineral analysis. The details of program design must be done on an individual basis.
Rough dose calculation for cows. To calculate the amounts of minerals and other substances needed for cows, multiply the human amounts by 9 to 12. This is because an average cow weighs about 9 to 12 times that of an average man. This is approximate, however, and may need adjusting. The section below explains some of these modifications.
OTHER BASIC CARE
No drugs or vaccines. Cows, like all animals, are subject to a few serious illnesses. If they are fed correctly, which is discussed below, they will not succumb to the common problems of brucellosis, tuberculosis, hoof and mouth disease, founders, reproductive problems, mastitis and others. The problem is they are not fed and cared for correctly.
Healthy cows do not need constant vaccinations! Medical drugs should be totally avoided, if at all possible. Often, this is easy if the cows are fed correctly and take the right supplements.
Keep your cows warm. Cows can get chilled. Keep them indoors on cold days. Do not allow them to sit, stand or walk through damp, muddy soil or ponds, for example. This can lead to hoof diseases and worse.
Love your cows. Cows love people and need attention. Never just leave your cows alone in the fields for days. Try to attend to them, ask them how they are doing, and listen for answers. You may be surprised.
Cows can do healing. You would be surprised that cows can help farmers, ranchers and their families. However, to do this, the herd must become healthier using a nutritional balancing program. Just feeding the cows well and giving them vitamins will not work well enough. This is important.
HAIR MINERAL TESTING OF COWS
This is one of the finest ways to evaluate the health of a cow. Testing is easy, sampling is simple and non-invasive when done right, and the information gleaned is tremendous, provided you know how to interpret the test. I offer help in this regard for anyone interested in learning it.
Interpretation must be according to the method of hair analysis interpretation first proposed by Dr. Paul C. Eck, a biochemist and researcher, who knew about and loved the work of Andre Voisin, William Albrecht and the other pioneers of modern agricultural and husbandry sciences.
Hair mineral patterns of cows. These are similar to the patterns seen in human beings. However, cows, like most domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, rarely go into four lows pattern, and only rarely go into three lows or slow oxidation patterns.
The articles on this website that explain and describe the various mineral patterns such as fast and slow oxidation, inverted ratios, step up, step down, bowl pattern and the others apply when viewing and evaluating a bovine hair mineral analysis. The only difference is the ideal values are different, and the ratios are different. The normal values for cows are shown below. Common patterns seen with cows include:
Fast oxidation. This is very common. It can be due to stress, or in some cases it is due to being cold. In other cases it is due to inflammatory diseases, or the presence of the amigos (iron, manganese and aluminum in most cases), or low zinc.
Low sodium/potassium ratio. This occurs because most cows are not too healthy, even if they look healthy. It is not a good pattern, either in human beings or in cows. Ideally, the hair sodium/potassium ratio of a cow should be about 0.6. Anything less is not desirable. Most cows cannot continue living with a sodium/potassium ratio less than about 0.09. These cows will die in a few months or less from infections, usually.
The ‘amigos’. Most cows have problems with toxic forms of iron, manganese and aluminum, which are called “the amigos” on this website. Please read about these problems, which stem from problems in the soil in most cases. Click here for the Amigos article.
Low zinc. This is common in areas where the soil is low in zinc. These areas are the Western world, and Australia, in particular, although low zinc exists throughout the world, to some degree.
Nutritional correction. The basic correction methods used for human beings apply as well to the correction of imbalances for cows. The amount of products must be multiplied by 9 to 12 to obtain the amounts needed for most cows. Calves will require less based on their weight, mainly.
As stated above, food and supplements can be placed in large bins and the cows can be allowed to lick the supplements, in particular. This does not work on other animals, but it is effective with most cows if they are even slightly intelligent, which most are.
Successes. So far, with experience of about two years, we have had success correcting mastitis, reproductive problems and damp hoof problems using nutritional balancing science.
NORMAL HAIR MINERAL VALUES FOR COWS
This is an important area of research. While the precise numbers will vary somewhat with the age, breed and feed of the cows, here are some normal hair values that I am currently using:
First tetra: Calcium = 210-220 mg%
Magnesium = 105-110 mg%
Sodium = 50-55 mg%
Potassium = 100-120 mg%
Second tetra: Iron = 18-20 mg%
Copper = 1-1.2 mg%
Manganese = 1.4-1.6 mg%
Zinc = 20-22 mg%
Third tetra: Selenium = 0.062-0.066 mg%
Chromium = 0.2-0.25 mg%
Vanadium = 0.04-0.05 mg%
Boron = 0.02-0.025 mg%
Other minerals: Phosphorus = 25-30 mg%
Sulfur = 250-280 mg%
Cobalt = 0.02-0.021 mg%
Molybdenum = 0.001-0.002 mg%
Lithium = 0.001-0.002 mg%
Toxic tetras: Lead = 0.04-0.05 mg%
Mercury = 0.03-0.035 mg%
Cadmium = 0.004-0.008 mg%
Arsenic = 0.001-0.004 mg%
Nickel = 0.44-0.51 mg%
Aluminum = 0.8-1.1 mg%
In November 2012 I reviewed the hair analyses of three dairy cows in Australia. (Click here to view a photo of these animals.) All of the cows mineral charts revealed:
* Fast oxidation rate
* Four highs pattern
* Normal to low sodium/potassium ratio
* Good calcium/magnesium ratio
* Low zinc and low copper
* Elevated aluminum, iron and chromium (in this soil, most likely)
* High manganese in some of them, but not all (source unknown, perhaps from past exposure or from birth)
All the cows were having problems becoming impregnated. Also, milk production is somewhat low, and in some of the herd, weight gain is sluggish.
The hair tests indicated that the cause is low zinc in the soil, and perhaps low copper, along with too much iron, chromium and aluminum (amigos). This is typical of depleted soils on earth.
The programs given to all the animals, in human supplement dosages, were:
Dosages were then multiplied by about 10 to 13 depending on the weight of the animal compared to the weight of an average adult human being. This simple method of dosing animals usually works quite well.
Six months later, all three animals are much better. Reproductive problems have disappeared, weight gain is better, and milk production has improved. Hair tests on the same herd reveals that the four highs pattern has gone away in all the animals and they are all in a slow oxidation pattern with a low sodium/potassium ratio. This represents a calming down of the animals called settling down pattern. Basically, their stress level is lower. Some of the other imbalances such as low zinc are still present, and their mineral therapy continues (06/2013).
Cows have undergone years of breeding that have altered them in very precise and harmful ways, mainly. The newer breeds give up to twice as much milk, for example. However, they are more fragile animals, they are much less healthy, and their milk is much less healthful as well. It is higher in sugar, for example, but lower in protein. This is not beneficial at all, but it makes for more milk production, and that is what the farmers seek, or that is what they think they seek.
The newer breeds produce plenty of meat and fat, but the meat is slightly irritating and many people are now “allergic” to beef, as a result. The newer breeds of cows are also far more delicate and therefore prone to disease. This means they require more drugs and more vaccines, which also damages the quality of their milk and their meat, making it less healthful and more reactive or allergic.
The newer breeds of cows also do not live as long, so they are harder to manage and reproduction is not as reliable. An older variety of cow would live 12 to 16 years, at least, and this is just an average. Many lived to 20 years old or longer. The newer ones live to 10 or 12, and often their lifetime milking years, as they are called, are shorter – from 4 to 6 years only. This means that these cows are actually a bigger investment with less return. Farmers around the world are realizing this deception and returning to the hardier, older varieties.
Pasteurization. Currently a debate rages over the need for pasteurization of milk. I do not believe it is a good idea at all. It damages the protein and the calcium in the milk. The use of copper rollers to pasteurize milk also adds copper to the milk, which is undesirable. It is definitely not beneficial at all, provided the milk is clean and low in bacteria.
A hidden reason why some large dairies want laws forcing all milk to be pasteurized is their cows are very unhealthy. Thus the milk must be pasteurized, or it would spread disease. Large dairies also like pasteurization because it may help them control the price of all milk and eliminate the competition.
Smaller, organic farmers have no problems with disease if their herds are healthy. The milk is excellent and the cows are far healthier, so they don’t need pasteurization. Some of them are also buying the older varieties of heirloom cows, as they are actually more cost-effective and the milk is healthier. Currently, there is a shortage of these so-called heirloom or non-hybridized cows, so it is a slow process, but it is happening.
For raw milk to be a success requires some changes in dairy farming. Unfortunately, the older varieties of cows give less milk, although this is offset to some degree by their superior health and longevity. The milk is also more wholesome, contains fewer residues of antibiotics and other drug residues, and comes from much happier animals.
I encourage all farmers to consider changing over to organic dairy practices. It produces healthier cows, healthier consumers, healthier farm families, and is often more profitable, as well, provided you can set up good distribution channels.
Overweight cows. Cows, like human beings, should not be fat. Lean is healthier, even if the meat is a little tougher. Causes for overweight cows include: