Farmers are, by nature, preppers. But recognizing the importance of preparation and knowing just how to prepare are two different things, according to Dr. Julia Herman.

A veterinarian for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Herman made her presentation “Assembling Your Cattle Care Tool Kit” at the NCBA’s annual convention in New Orleans.

“You don’t want to be in the situation where you’re scrambling to get all this stuff together when you need it,” said Herman. “It’s better to take the time to put it all together so it’s there when you need it.”

Herman stressed the importance of establishing a veterinarian client-patient relationship (VCPR). A VCPR allows a veterinarian who knows your animals well enough to be able to diagnose and treat any medical conditions your animals develop. A VCPR is established when a vet examines an animal in person, followed by regular veterinary visits as needed to monitor the animal’s health.

“First things first – along with establishing a VCPR, you want to make sure you’ve got your veterinary emergency number in your cell phone and on the fridge,” Herman said. “Keep a list of common diseases and treatment protocols handy. And you’ll want to keep your PIN application for RFID tags and USDA program testing for tuberculosis and brucellosis handy.”

Cattle care toolkits are must-haves

NCBA Beef Cattle Specialist Veterinarian Julia Herman walked her Cattle Chat attendees through what is absolutely necessary in a cattle care kit. Photo by Enrico Villamaino

Herman then outlined a “must-have” list for a number of scenarios:

Basic Medical Supplies – Thermometer, flashlight with batteries, stethoscope, examination gloves (latex or nitrate), hypodermic needles of various sizes, syringes (1, 3, 6, 12, 20 and 35mL sizes), bandage scissors, weight tape and duct tape

Calving Supplies – Five-gallon bucket, obstetrical chains and handles or straps, clean towels, esophageal feeder (at least two – one for colostrum, one for sick calves), navel dip, large trash bags, heat lamp, calf blanket or large dog coat and waterproof coveralls or apron

Wounds or Lacerations Supplies – Soap for removing organic matter around the wound, disinfectant scrub (Betadine scrub, povidone iodine scrub), navel dip, disinfectant rinse, superglue, skin stapler kit, thumb dressing forceps/serrated forceps and hemostat or clamp

Bandaging Materials – Roll gauze or Kling, non-stick wrap, adhesive wrap, white tape, Ace bandages (three- and six-inch), roll cotton, PVC splints (two- and three-inch), flexible ice packs, non-stick wound pads, gauze 4×4 pads, AluSpray aerosol bandages and fly spray

Husbandry Supplies – Rumen/reticulum magnets, balling gun (calf size and adult size), ear tagger and tags, tag pen, tag cutter and old T-shirts or sweaters (for rags and drying)

Suggested Medications (after discussions with your vet!) – Clostridium C&D, B-complex vitamins, Vitamin A&D and AD&E, Vitamin E, BoSe, vaccines/oral supplements (taking care to refrigerate), colostrum replacements and supplements and electrolytes

Herman closed the program by emphasizing that while these suggestions are a good place to start, farmers should consult with their veterinarians to make sure their cattle care tool kit is just right for their herd and their needs.

by Enrico Villamaino