Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX


May 4, 2014

NOW HEAR THIS: Of lice and men (and cattle)


With all due respect to John Steinbeck’s oft-time controversial novel, “Of Mice and Men,” we have a slightly different problem down on the “pore farm.” It doesn’t involve mice or hobos. Our problems involve lice and cattle.

From my earliest recollection, I have been around cattle and other livestock. My parents and their ancestors before them were all livestock producers and farmers. Animal husbandry has been a key facet of our existence.

My Grandpa Jones was highly regarded throughout the community as a very astute, self-educated man with considerable skills as a veterinarian. Since he was born almost a half a century before Texas A&M’s School of Veterinary Medicine was founded, grandpa’s credentials were amassed through books he ordered by mail and experience working with sick animals – both his own and those of neighbors. When anyone in the area had ailing livestock, grandpa was the “go to guy.” I recall that even in his late eighties, he was never happier than when he was doctoring a sick cow or horse.

For whatever the reason, somehow I never plucked that particular gene off the family tree. I suppose I’m a bit too much of a control freak, and dealing with animals, particularly sick ones, can be quite frustrating for someone who likes his rows straight and all his “ducks in a perfect row.”

This year, it seems like my cattle have been plagued with more than a normal amount of parasites, especially lice. The older I get, the less inclined I have become to getting out there in the corral and spray, dust or apply assorted pour-on medications to deal with these parasites.

While it would be best to be a bit more vigilant in my animal husbandry practices, until this year it never seemed to be a high priority. While most of my cattle showed little or no ill effects to this heavier -than-normal plague of lice and flies, a couple of my older cows began looking “poorly.” Coming off a harder-than-normal winter with large calves sucking them down, they were getting in bad shape.

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