Monday, 26 March 2012

Three Day Sickness

Last month, our 22 month old heifer, Poppy, was ill with Three Day Sickness.  Locally known as 'three day', this is a fairly common disease in tropical and sub-tropical areas.  It's mostly spread around here by buffalo fly.

"Bovine Ephemeral Fever (BEF) is a viral disease of cattle and buffalo. Typically, affected animals are only sick for a few days, hence the alternative name - Three Day Sickness."
 from this site.

This disease is preventable by vaccination.  We choose not to vaccinate our stock, so this wasn't an option for us.  There is a homeopathic treatment available for it, but we did not have any on hand.  I'd consider keeping this in our animal first aid box though, as we've had success with using homeopathic remedies on our pets and livestock.


Poppy went down in a treed area on the edge of our furtherest paddock.  She was partially protected from the elements there, but a long way from the house, and from water.  Several times each day we trekked through long grass, and sometimes pouring rain, to tend to Poppy's needs.  She was upright, not lying on her side, which was a good thing!

Before we realised it was Three Day, we treated Poppy with a remedy from Keeping A Family Cow - molasses, apple cider vinegar, plain yoghurt and epsom salts.  We figured it'd keep her bowels moving at least, while we figured out if she'd eaten something awful or was suffering from something else.

Our main concern was that Poppy have access to cool, clean water that she could reach from her sitting position.  We mixed molasses into the water which encouraged her to drink plenty.  She was still urinating and deficating the whole time she was down (4-5 days), and shuffling away from her waste - all excellent signs.  We treated with injectable Vitamin C every time we went up to see her.  We always keep this on hand as it's so useful for a wide variety of illnesses.  The whole time she was sick, Poppy was able to drink and swallow and apart from when we first found her, she was alert, bright-eyed and calm.

At one stage, buffalo flies were annoying Poppy, but it was too difficult to rub neem oil on her as we usually do.  A friend suggested that we try using aerosol insect repellant designed for humans.  We don't normally use chemicals, but with Poppy being so still (a natural defence to flies is to brush through tree branches and long grass), and the rain being so heavy, we decided to give it a go.  A quick once-over with the low-irritant spray and she was fly-free for days...  Makes me wonder what they put into those magic cans!  Eeek!

On the fifth day, I was rocking Poppy on the spot as I usually did (to encourage her to shift her legs because of the risk of injury from poor circulation) and she seemed to want to get up.  I enlisted the help of my husband and we rocked and shoved Poppy until she suddenly lurched onto her feet and wobbled away, eating grass as if nothing had happened.

Poppy had only been AIed (artificially inseminated) three weeks before she became ill, so we're watching to see if she is in calf.  Overall she was bright as a button the whole time, and soon after getting to her feet became as active and round as before she got Three Day.


Kristy said...

So she's ok? When you said 'succumbed' I wasn't sure if that meant ...

Well, I hope if she didn't that she continues on her happy way :)

farmer_liz said...

Hi Bel, thanks for sharing your thoughts on 3 day, we've seen it a few times in our steers too, but didn't know what treatment to use. They are so pathetic, like a super bad man flu, just lying there and letting us pat them when they would normally move away, at first we thought it was a snake bite, but once you know its 3 day you can just look after them until they recover. Last time we had to get the steer to move under a tree, as he was right out in the open. We just make sure they have lots of water and hay to nibble on. They seem to get up by themselves after a few days, as if nothing had happened. Will use vit C next time.

Libby said...

Poor little girl. Glad she now fully recovered. Love how dedicated your family is to her health and wellbeing.