Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cattle Health

     Today I would like to discuss cattle health and our strategies for maintaining a healthy herd.   Our dairy and beef herd provide our family with home-grown and thoughtfully sourced milk and beef so we place high standards on bovine health.  We study research to ensure current understanding of bovine diseases, especially diseases that are known to be zoonotic.

     My journey began 15 years ago when we bought a dairy cow.  Thank goodness we had a knowledgeable vet who educated and guided us through testing for diseases we most definitely did not want in our raw milk.   As time marched on beef cattle were added to our farm and I realized that they are carriers of many diseases we really didn't want in our family's beef supply.  We decided to close both dairy and beef herds and raise all replacement females.  Our decision to quarantine our herd has come with many challenges such as wearing plastic gloves, covering shoes with plastic covers, and endless expensive testing.  We believe this has been a worthwhile endeavor and we are grateful to have a clean dairy and beef herd.

    A few weeks ago Mr. Rueffer decided we would have the whole herd tested at one time and to verify where we were on bovine health.  The above pictures is from that very long day for both man and bovine but the results were worth it.  The beautiful girls and a few boys above are not only vibrant with health but have lab-work papers to prove it.  THE RESULTS WERE 100% NEGATIVE FOR BVD, BLV(BOVINE LEUKOSIS VIRUS-I added some links for you to read about this disease, JOHNE'S; (, AND NEOSPORA.  We are so happy and feel so blessed to be care-takers of these cattle.  Most disease transmission occurs maternally to offspring.  I think most of us are unaware of disease in cattle because many diseases are sub-clinical and it is often hard to detect with out lab work.  

     Dairy cattle have more incidence of disease due to confined living conditions.  We will talk about raw milk and disease another time.  In both dairy and beef herds, disease is spreading rapidly due to our current conventional systems for milk and beef.  I hope we can change our system into a system free from confinement eating of commodity crops and shipping cattle long distances for harvest.  I believe the model we are striving for here at Rueffer Ranch aids in mending our broken food system in America.

 Benefits of our model:

*Mother and calf roam freely grazing until the natural weaning time for a calf.

*Calves are born in sync with nature giving them lots of green grass and favorable conditions.  

*Calves are not shipped long distances which is stressful for the newly weaned calf. 

*Calves are milk-fed from their mothers and graze with her for supplementation.  

*Since they are born in the spring the grass conditions are prime for great beef nutrition.

*Our ancestors always harvested "the fatted calf" which provided them with tender meat, bones, and organs.  They did not have refrigeration and a calf was the right size for harvest.

*The smaller animal has smaller cuts which are just right for a healthy meal.  

*There is no use of commodity crops or factory farming.  

*Calves are from a closed tested herd which speaks volumes.

*Calves are harvested locally.


Our cattle are gentle and we handle them very gently.

We had a Christmas picture made with our Jersey cow "Rainey".

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