June 25 2019 10:40 AM

A bout of giardia in our calves reminded me to think outside of our routines.

If there’s anything dairy farmers are very good at, it’s routine. It is our job to do the same job 365 days a year.

Many aspects of dairy farming fall into this routine category including milking and calf care. But even if a routine is perfectly followed, problems can arise. Fortunately, we even have routines in place for those situations. It’s when something arrives that is out of routine that we are reminded of all the tools available to us.

Know what you’re fighting
We recently had an incidence of calf illness on the farm. Last year, we had dealt with a bout of coccidia with all the same symptoms as our calves were experiencing again. Thinking that we knew what we were dealing with, we proceeded with a routine treatment we had created with our vet for that disease.

This time around the routine did not work. That sent us back to the valuable lesson of using all our tools available on the farm. We tested to see what the real problem was, and the tests revealed that our calves were fighting off a bout of giardia. While it presents similar symptoms to coccidia, the treatment is different.

Instead of jumping immediately to a known routine, we could have saved time and treatment to first investigate the cause. Remember, nothing on a dairy farm is ever truly routine. I value all the tools and expert partners we have to work out problems when they arise. But in moments like this one, I am reminded that we shouldn’t automatically fall into our routines.

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family-run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.