Well, we’ve had to pull Annabelle’s milk this week. It’s been tasting a little off, and I think I finally know why. Hairy hoof wart. Here’s my theory.
I’ve been smelling something when Annabelle comes in for milking for quite a while now, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. It smelled rotten, but upon examination, I could find nothing wrong with her. Then, months later, as she came into the barn, she stepped on something that hurt her heel, and that’s when I saw what appeared to be a perfectly round but lumpy growth about two inches across.
When the vet came out for another purpose the following week, I asked about it. Hairy hoof wart. Highly contagious and she’s surprised we’ve gotten it, having a closed herd and all. (Either we track it home from places like the feed mill, or the vets track it in on their boots. That’s the only explanation, as far as I can tell.) They also don’t think we can cure it.
But here’s the thing.
I think it’s not just affecting her foot. I think it’s making her sick.
She’s not put on weight like the other cows this spring, in spite of adequate grazing. Her lymph nodes in her neck were swollen. She was just a little bit droopy, though not enough to cause concern. And her milk tastes a little off.
So what we’re trying is systemic antibiotics, coupled with a topical antibiotic wash to try to eliminate the infection from both ends. Apparently, the recurrence rate is high in susceptible cows, but I think, on Day 2, we’re already making progress. The wart appears to be smaller, she seems to be walking on it a little better, and the lymph nodes are soft again.
Of course, her milk will be out of circulation for a while, till she’s clear of infection and residual antibiotics, but the alternative is to cull the cow altogether. The temporary loss of milk is a small price to pay!
Also? I love my veterinarian. She’s willing to give this a try, and I really appreciate that. Our herd is too small to suffer the loss of a good cow.