Thursday, April 30, 2020

Trouble Shooting Mineral Deficiencies

I occasionally get phone calls something like this, “Hey, Doc. My horses have XYZ , what mineral should I be feeding for that?” Further conversation usually reveals they are being fed a bunch of different supplements — some force fed in the ration and some fed free-choice.

It is not usually possible to prescribe appropriate minerals just on the basis of symptoms, but there are situations when symptoms or signs do point to a certain mineral deficiency. For example, if the normally black hair coat of a cow is tinged with red it almost always signifies a copper deficiency. Hoof and hair problems may be associated with deficiencies of zinc and copper.  Then too, certain environmental conditions influence consumption of certain minerals — some animals take more sulfur in the spring and fall when building new hair. Cattle on lush spring growth pasture usually need more magnesium.

When encountering questions similar to the one above—and knowing that an accurate diagnosis is based on good information—I immediately start asking questions.

1,  What are you currently feeding? I am often amazed at the number of supplements some folks give their animals, I suspect sometime different supplements can cause problems with mineral interference. What I am looking for here, is any obvious incompatibilities or gross over feeding, Resulting in metabolic deficiencies even with adequate minerals.

2. Have you tested the water for livestock suitability and especially for nitrates

3. Do you provide separate sources of calcium and phosphorus?

4. Do you have a separate source of plain white salt available?

5. I usually ask the owner or caretaker, “What do you think is the problem?” Since I am sitting at a desk hundreds of miles away and they are right next to the animals, I believe their observation and impressions should be factored into the decision mix.

Answers to the above questions will usually identify some things to be changed or improved. Many times, that involves the removal of some of the duplicated supplements and I always recommend providing a full-array, free choice mineral feeding program.

This item was originally posted to a previous issue of Doc' Holliday's Blog on 6 July , 2018

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Seasonal Mineral Needs

I am occasionally asked what minerals for livestock are required at different times of the year — for example, “Going into winter, what minerals should I make sure are available for my livestock?”     It is true that mineral consumption may vary with the season, under different circumstances, and even in different areas of the country. You may see other consumption patterns on your own farm, but here are some examples.

When cattle are grazing on lush, fast growing spring grass they will generally eat more Magnesium.

Young stock seem to eat more Copper as do animals having to eat moldy feed.

Sulfur is involved in hair and hoof growth, of ration changes.
When animals shed their winter coat and grow a summer coat they will eat more sulfur. The same is true in the fall when they are growing a winter hair coat.

Calcium consumption may go down in summer and up in winter. I have no explanation for this, but I suspect it has to do with a seasonal variation in phosphorus availability.

Animals will often drastically alter their mineral consumption within one day

of ration changes.

Animals will sometimes take more minerals in advance of imminent weather changes. It seems they anticipate feed may be limited during a storm and stock up on minerals to tide them over. Bison appear to be especially canny in this regard.

If the water is high in nitrates, animals will need more need more Vitamin A. They will take more Vitamin A and B when forage quality in stored feed declines.

Animals under stress for any reason will eat more Vitamin B.

If well nourished animals are changed to a mineral deficient ration it may take several months for them to deplete their body reserves and begin to show deficiency symptoms. When they are again supplied with adequate minerals, it may take several months for them to eat what is required to replenish these reserves — refilling the tank.

I don’t think it’s possible to accurately predict what minerals animals will need under varying circumstances. Thus, it is important to provide a full array of minerals at all times and let the animal’s innate nutritional wisdom make that decision.

In the last analysis, there is only one answer to the question, “What is the most important mineral to have available for your animals?” — and the answer is, “The one that’s most deficient.”

             This item was originally posted to a previous issue of Doc' Holliday's Blog on 13 November 2017

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Science or Speculation

With all the furor over coronavirus there isn't a lot of other interesting news floating around on the web. The following headline did catch my eye, "Climate change is making nightingales' wings shorter and their annual migration harder, study finds .” I read on.

It seems a group of researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid have been studying the size of birds. They discovered that over the past two decades the wingspan of nightingales in central Spain have decreased. Natural selection caused by rising average temperatures in the region as the likely cause of the trend. They hypothesized this would make it more difficult for them to complete their annual migration to sub-Sahara Africa,

My question is: “If the short winged birds didn't survive the migration wouldn’t that tend to remove the short wings trait from the gene pool?>>

It is interesting to note the article mentions that under similar climate change situations in theUS, birds actually grew in size and had longer wingspans. Then too, Audubon Society research stated that two-thirds of North American birds species are at risk of extinction frpm climate change. Another study claims nearly three billion birds have disappeared from the North American continent in the past 50 years. 

A few years ago it was reported in USA Today that cats kill up to 3.7 billion birds on the continental US every year. That’s a lot more bird deaths than are attributed to climate change. I wonder how you tell the difference in the cause of death — cats or weather. Is it possible that blaming cats for killing birds is not as politically corrected as blaming climate change?

Another report that entrigued me was, “Ancient Mayans caused their own 'climate change,' shocking study says.”   The study suggests that ancient Mayans may have inadvertently caused their own demise by radically altering the climate. The research looks at newly found evidence in Belize that shows the Mayans responded to increases in population and environmental pressures by creating canals and wetlands. They also had regular "burn events" while farming their lands, which may have caused a rise in carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. Before recorded history, the largest increase in methane around the globe is thought to have occurred between 2,000 and 1,000 years ago, coinciding with the increase in the Maya wetlands, as well as those seen in South America and China.

The newly discovered evidence, based on aerial scans, is thought to have occurred between 1,800 and 1,000 years ago. I read this as meaning the evidence upon which the report was based was gleaned from aerial photographs with "no actual boots on the ground.”

Both articles referred to above were interesting, informative, ad well written. Future research on these topics might someday result in valuable information.

I do not mean, in any way, to impugn the integrity or expertise of any of these researchers, but I am concerned the language of the reports seems speculative in nature rather than scientific. For example, the articles are rife with such ambiguous terms as: may have changed, may have caused, suggests that, likely caused, and many other. This is a plea for more science in so-called scientific reports and less ambiguity.

Having said all that, the most intriguing mystery still remains – “Who pays for this kind of research?” 
What say ye?

Links to the above reports:

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Aberrant Animal Behavior

Laying hens (especially the common Leghorn breed) raised in confinement (housed but not caged) had the reputation of being nervous and flighty. It was common practice to knock on the door before entering the poultry-house. Suddenly entering the facility without this advance warning would alarm the birds and the flock would rush to the opposite end of the building. They would often pile up and some birds would die of suffocation. It would affect egg production for several days. Funny though: some canny poultrymen would add ground up coal or humates to the ration and the birds would settle right down and become calmer and more content, obviating the need to knock before entering.

Groups of pigs raised in confinement often begin chewing on one another’s tail—tail biting. It’s not known why they do this but some speculate boredom or some sort of nutritional deficiency. It’s probably a combination of the two. Conventional remedy goes something like this—“Let’s cut off their tail when they are young so they have no tails to bite.” Funny though: pigs raised with adequate protein and balanced minerals seldom engage in tail biting. Unfortunately, once they start this habit

they will usually continue the vice even after conditions or nutrition improves.

Chickens in confinement have a similar problem—head pecking—also thought to be caused by confinement boredom or poor nutrition.Conventional remedy; “If you cut off the top beak they can’t peck on each other.” Funny though: if you feed them well and give them a little space they rarely pick up this vice.

The common thread to all of this is that malnutrition, dietary mineral imbalances and close confinement leads to all sorts of strange social behavior in animals. I believe this holds true for us

humans as well. With much of our population crowded into stifling cities and subsisting on food with low nutritive value and high levels of toxic chemicals - is it any wonder crime and aberrant social behavior are rampant in our society?

Taking away our guns, the equivalent of debeaking–or enforcing political correctness, commensurate to taiputation will not fix the problem. Perhaps we need to add some coal dust or its mineral equivalent to our human diet.

This item was originally posted to a previous issue of Doc' Holliday's Blog on 11 November 2015

Monday, April 6, 2020

Immunity Community

     Back in the day when I was a lad, small diversified farms were the norm.  The family operations had a variety of animals, including cattle, swine, sheep, poultry and bees. Any animals on the farm, including the humans, were exposed to a unique mix of resident bacteria.  Since immunity is based on exposure, many good things happened from this association.  
Any mammal living there would be exposed to the resident bacteria resulting in the production of specific bacterial antibodies in the colostrum milk.  Thus, for example, when a resident cow calves, the immune factors in her colostrum protects the calf from the initial exposure to the bacteria and the  continuous low-level exposure strengthens its immune system.
It takes a couple of weeks of exposure for a cow to build colustral antibodies. If a “springer” cow was brought on the farm right before she calves, her colostrum may not match the resident bacteria and thus her calf would probably not receive the matching immune factors for good health and would be susceptible to infection from the resident bacteria. 
Many  of these farmers milked their usually dual-purpose cows during the summer as another source of income.        This milk was often separated, with the cream being sold and the skim milk fed to other animals on the farm - calves, chickens and swine - thus giving them an immune boost along with the nutrition. Then too, the milk usually went sour from the naturally occurring Lactobacillus bacteria, providing another immune boost.
Chickens produce maternal antibodies (like a cow’s colostrum) in the form of egg-yolk antibodies.  which mimics the function of the colostrum for the calf.  Raw eggs from resident hens are an effective treatment for calf scours since they provide another source of specific antibodies.
While bees are usually not considered livestock, chewing bee’s wax and pollen is reputed to be an effective remedy for allergies.  
Almost all the animals had access to the health benefit of grazing pastures, woodlots, and fence rows to self balance their nutritional and mineral needs.
  Humans on the farm also benefited from an immune boost when they consumed milk and eggs produced on the farm. Farm kids are healthier than city kids!  Children raised in a relatively sterile environment have little, if any, immunity to bacteria e.g. common Staph, Strep, Salmonella, E. coli, etc.
I don’t know if it’s related or not, but my wife’s mother lived most of her life on the farm where she was born.  She started most of her mornings with a couple of beaten up raw eggs — from her own chickens, and a glass of milk — from her own cows.  She lived to be 98!

Even though such small farms are basically a thing of the past, we can still benefit from the natural technology of a by-gone era.  Today, we can duplicate the immune benefits of the old-time “Immunity Community” by the use of: 
  • Colostrum whey immune factors 
  • Concentrated Egg-yolk antibodies
  • Selected strains of Lactobacillus acidophillus
  • Selected herbs
- all of which are available in selected ABC+ products

Visit or contact 
Advanced Biological Concepts
 at 1-800-373-5971 for more information.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Censors of Nature

The current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic 
brought to mind this blog entry originally published in 2015. 
 I wonder if there is a message here for us humans?

In the 1830s a devastating disease of swine called Hog Cholera or Swine fever apparently arose spontaneously on a hog farm in Ohio. For over a century this was one of the leading causes of disease in swine and as late as the 1960s was costing the swine industry in excess of $50 million a year.

In 1907 a vaccine had been developed. It involved injecting a little dose of the virus along with some hyper- immune serum from hogs previously vaccinated for the disease. In 1951 the virulent live virus component was replaced with a modified live virus vaccine but still required the use of the serum. Improper use of these live vaccines contributed to many iatrogenic outbreaks of the disease.

For many years the income derived from vaccinating swine for Hog Cholera was the financial mainstay of most veterinary practices in areas with large swine populations. In 1961 the USDA mandated a Hog Cholera eradication program and all live or modified live vaccines were banned in 1969. The nation was declared free of Hog Cholera in 1978. This was hailed as a great success, but unfortunately, it wasn’t long before other, heretofore almost unknown, virus diseases of swine such as pseudo-rabies began to cost the swine industry almost as many dollars as had Hog Cholera before eradication.

Even if successful, vaccinations only protect against one particular organism and if the immune system is already compromised— malnutrition, stress, mineral deficiency, etc.,—the animals are easy prey for any other virus or germ lurking out there. As illustrated above; when one virus is removed either by vaccination or eradication (Hog Cholera) the next virus in line (Pseudo-rabies) stepped up and functioned as a “Censor of Nature”.

Nature tends to eliminate or censor anything not meeting her standards of excellence. Weeds are attracted to a sick soil in an attempt to remedy the imbalances of minerals and organic matter in the soil. Insects are attracted to sick crops as one of nature’s methods to eliminate sub-standard plants. Germs and viruses are attracted to sick animals (and humans), to recycle inferior products.

The key to good health is not in a bottle of vaccine or antibiotic but in good nutrition and common sense holistic management of the livestock.

                 This item was originally posted to a previous issue of Doc' Holliday's Blog on 12 May, 2015