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Stress solutions

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C. Edgar Sheaffer, VMD

May 2010

Dr. Gerald Mechor of Elanco Animal Health has been doing research in physical and emotional stress of young livestock for more than twelve years. Dr. Mechor states, “Weaning is one of the greatest stressors for calves. In one day there is disruption in nutrition, the maternal bond, and the social bond. If dehorning, vaccinating, and castration are added, is it any wonder that many develop clinical illness within 7 to 10 days?”

“Stressful events are associated with increased energy demands and decreased appetite which leads to depletion of energy stores in particular liver glycogen and body fat.” [Dr. Gerald Mechor, presentation in East Earl, Lancaster County, PA. Mar 11, 2008]

In an animal’s life giving birth is probably the most stressful time. Nutrition should be carefully provided during the last trimester of pregnancy. Supplemental probiotics like Fastrack microbial pack or Fastrack Nutrilift should be given 30 days prior to giving birth and continued through delivery and the first 90 days of lactation. Homeopathic medicines to have available should at the very least include Caulophyllum, Carbo vegetabilis and Arnica. Caulophyllum is frequently used and seems to have the power to regulate the processes of labor and many times is started daily in small doses for a couple of weeks before the expected delivery. The animal at birth may be limp, flaccid and cold. Warmth and stimulation do not change the picture, but Carbo vegetabilis will. Known at the “great reviver”, it has a great effect on the respiratory system. In the animal about which one has a question but no clear symptoms, Arnica of itself may help clear the picture.


It is of Nature’s custom to see that the next generation survives. During WWII in France, there was a severe shortage of food that could be digested by infants and small children. Most of the children survived because their lactating mothers continued to do so, providing Nature’s best nutrition until the end of the war.

Applying what has been observed in human infants, we can deduce that likewise breast milk from the dam is still the most nutritious food for young livestock. Ideally, calves should drink mom’s milk for several months. In a sustainable grass-based organic system progeny should nurse or at least receive whole milk for three months or longer.

One organic dairyman has a herd of dairy goats and a herd of dairy cows. Last year, the demand for goat milk in his part of the country had been even greater than that for cow milk. He raises his own replacements for both herds. Happily, he has learned that young goat kids do very well drinking raw organic home raised cow’s milk. Probiotics, free choice minerals, organic hay and pasture complete the kid’s ration.

Reduce physical stress in young livestock by:

  1. Avoid crowding – when weaned from their dam calves, lambs and other young livestock should be moved to a spacious shelter and paddock. Giving the homeopathic remedy Ignatia to both Mom and offspring will aid in reducing the stress.

Ignatia amara

Keynotes – Physical illness after loss and/or grief; patient wants to be alone and refuses to eat and drink.

  1. Sunshine, fresh air, clean water, exercise and grass- give them daily opportunity to “leap from their stalls”.

Organic dairyman John keeps all calves on milk for at least 13 weeks. They have their own shelter and have access every day to a spacious paddock or pasture. There have not been any problems with bullying by the older calves in the group or with nuisance sucking of navels.
3. Improve quality and quantity of human contact – Teach the caregivers to move slowly and handle with gentleness and respect. Ideally, children on a farm who have a gentle personality make the best calf feeders.

  1. Instead of weaning from milk at six to eight weeks, consider 12 to 15 weeks. Before such surgical procedures like dehorning and castration, always dose with Aconitum napellus for fear, pain and shock.

Keynotes – Fear, fever, sudden illness after stress, chill or exposure to cold dry winds; symptoms worsen at midnight.

  1. Consider trying the ‘buddy system’ – two calves fed together, weaned together, and moved with the other weaned calves as buddies.

  2. Dose with Arnica montana after any trauma, or surgery.

Keynotes – Injuries to soft tissues, bruising of muscle, bone and joints, and trauma to body and mind.

Mastitis STRESS
Conventional dairy farmers still use antibiotics to treat mastitis. This archaic practice in itself causes lots of stress. Inter-venous or inter-muscular injections are not without pain. Inter-mammary treatments suppress disease, lead to more chronic problems. Mastitis tubes lead to new symptoms that appear just around the corner or a year later.

In a sustainable grass-based system massaging the affected quarter adds to the healing process. One farmer takes the Phytolacca pellets – 10 pellets in a basin of water and washes the udder with this liquid. He gives the Phytolacca pellets orally and then uses the udder wash and receives back a positive result. With any case of abnormal milk, frequent stripping is important. It can be likened to applying warm sea salt water soaks (to an abscess) several times daily.


Heat Stress
A similar scenario is observed in hot humid weather. Ruminant animals in stuffy barns or feedlots eat little during the day due to the heat. After sundown, the environmental temperature drops enough so that they begin, and because of their hunger from the day long fast, they may eat more than the rumen can handle. In the morning they are found bloated and in pain. If not attended quickly, rumen acidosis progresses to endotoxemia, laminitis and death.

In these situations, Nux vomica 30C may be dosed hourly

for three or more doses.

Keynotes – colic, bloat, constipation; loss of appetite after binging (over-eating). Complementary therapies of probiotics (Fastrack Jump Start Gel or Fastrack Ruminant Gel), B-vitamins, and fluids may be dosed at the same time.

Fastrack probiotic is indicated at times of fever, infection, or decrease in appetite. Pathogenic bacteria double their numbers every 10 minutes, while beneficial (probiotic) organisms that are more fragile double their numbers every 30 minutes. One can easily understand why the friendly bacteria that protect the sick patient can quickly become overwhelmed by pathogenic E-coli, or Salmonella, or Campylobacter.

Animals with stress need daily probiotic feeding. When there has been substantial antibiotic use in the past, probiotic organisms will help to reestablish a balance in the small intestine. Yogurt and kefir are good supplements but on their own do not appear to be able to establish a normal gut flora profile.

In the very young nursing livestock one may dose orally or coat the nipple with Fastrack Jump-Start Gel and allow the young to nurse it from the teat. This has been a useful technique in goats and mares with tender and chapped nipples. Dosing the neonate just before nursing and providing the dam with her own probiotic will boost the immune competency for both mom and baby.
Most people who show livestock, horses and pets have a favorite recipe for preventing illness at the show. Some give Penicillin injections
before leaving home, while others use vaccination programs. Some feed bulky high fiber stuff like beet pulp while others decrease the over-all amount of feed given during shipping. All of these programs may have some merit.

Looking at travel and showing stress from a biological and energetic point of view enables one to offer the best protection for the animals. Daily microbial intake prepares the animal for such stress by providing friendly defenders to the GI track. Adding the Gel formulas during travel/ show times improves biological protection.

A hunter/jumper had been a successful campaigner for several years. For some reason she suddenly became excited in the trailer, with trembling and breaking into a sweat, releasing shooting diarrhea. Tranquilizers did not improve the problem, so the owner gave up, resigned to enjoy the mare only at home. Two years later, they learned about homeopathy and Fastrack. Could these natural remedies provide any help?

Our prescription: Fastrack Equine Gel given daily three days before the show and continued until returning home after the show. Homeopathic Argentum nitricum 200C twice daily three days before the show and continued until the return home (6 days). The results: no sweating, no excitement, no diarrhea; a perfectly behaved mare throughout the event.

Three advantages of homeopathic medicines are ease of

dosing, environmental safety, and lack of side effects. One dose for the typical adult human would be five larger pellets (#35s) or ten smaller pellets (#25s). Dosing livestock can be performed with any of the following methods:

  1. Dry pellets gently put into the mouth.

  2. Dry pellets mixed with 5ml of water and gently squirted or trickled into the mouth.

  3. Pellets mixed with a little grain or a favorite snack and offered voluntarily.

  4. Pellets dissolved in a clean spray bottle with filtered water and gently misted on the animal’s muzzle and eyes.

  5. Dissolving pellets in the drinking water supply so that with each drink they receive a dose.


Prepare for moments of stress and illness. Be geared up for those

times with natural medicines. Have a source of quality and effective Fastrack probiotics. Buy a homeopathic home or farm kit. The CLARK VETERINARY CLINIC, INC. Homeopathic Farm Kit contains 40 medicines frequently used for farm animals. A laminated insert instructions booklet is included. The medicines and book are enclosed in a heavy plastic box for safety. Each bottle contains approximately 25 doses of a single homeopathic medicine in either the 30C or 200C potency. Kits are available by calling the toll free number 1-888-327-6838 during the weekday.

Homeopathic medicines are gentle and act energetically with the patient’s own energy. The power of energy medicines should be respected. Remember that these medicines may be rendered powerless by certain drugs and strong smelling herbs. Camphor, menthol, mint and caffeine should be avoided during the time that a patient is taking homeopathic medicines.

Submitted by: C. Edgar Sheaffer, VMD

Bonnie M. Sheaffer, RN

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