April 2018
Howle's Hints

Cattle Essentials

"There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt
to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten."  ~ Indira Gandhi


Here are some essentials you should keep on hand when working with cattle: (from left, top) OB chain, large and small bolus delivery tubes, wound spray, Noromycin 300 LA antibiotic, Lintox fly control, (bottom) disposable rubber gloves, nose holder, ear tag applicator and sorting paddle.

The cow is considered sacred in India. It’s considered taboo for the Hindu to eat beef, but, evidently, buffaloes don’t come under that same protection. The beef industry representatives in India say all their beef comes from buffaloes, according to a recent article in The Atlantic.

There is suspicion, however, that many of their street cows are going into the buffalo beef market. The problem with India-raised cattle centers on available food sources and sanitation. Walk the streets of India and you will find cows wandering down sidewalks, eating garbage out of dumpsters and health conditions that would make American inspectors’ scores below zero.

India has around 115 million buffaloes and, every year, produces about 1.53 million tons of beef that is shipped to 65 countries. The India beef industry says all their beef comes from buffaloes and they tout it as being free-range and not pumped with growth hormones. Regardless of whether that is true or not, if India’s street cows are being mixed in with the free-range buffaloes, then my radar says all their meat is possibly contaminated.

Roughly one fifth of the world’s population resides in India and, from 2014-2015, 194 million people were starving in that country. This was the largest number of starving people in the world, according to a recent United Nations report. Cows are wandering around their city streets being worshipped instead of grilled.

Maybe we should share what the book of Timothy says in the New Testament with them. "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving." (1 Timothy 4:4, KJB)

All this makes me glad to live in the United States and eating American-raised, real beef.


Bama Beef

Alabama and other Southern states are ideal areas to raise grass-fed cattle. Our long grass-growing season, milder winters and clean water supplies make our cattle some of the healthiest and heartiest in the United States. To keep the cattle healthy and performing at optimum levels, it is essential to have a few basic tools and supplies on hand.

Noromycin 300 LA is a great, all-round antibiotic to keep on hand for infection protection.




Occasionally, you may have a heifer or cow that has trouble calving. There is a proper way to help deliver a calf using an OB chain when the cow can’t deliver on her own. Simply wrap the chain around the front feet of the calf as it begins to emerge. As you help deliver the calf, make sure not to exert over 125 pounds of downward pressure. Always allow the cow to deliver on her own, unless a few hours have passed with no calving progress.

If a cow has scours or any other malady treatable with pills, invest in a bolus delivery tube, a long tube that aids in inserting the large pills down the throat. Buy a large and small size to accommodate different size pills. Pull the handle back on the bolus, insert the pill in the end, insert into the throat and press the release knob.

It’s a good idea to have a bottle of Noromycin 300 LA antibiotic on hand in case of any infections. Cattle can step on sharp objects, cut themselves and wreak havoc on their health if any infection is not treated quickly. Follow the instructions on the bottle for storage and discard any out-of-date medicine.

When working on cattle, keep some wound spray and plenty of fly insecticide on hand as well as disposable rubber gloves.


The nose holder keeps the animal’s head secure while treating.

Top Tools

The top two tools for working with cattle are nose holders and an ear tag applicator. Before administering medicine or applying an ear tag, you need to hold the animal’s head securely. A nose holder, also called a nose lead with chain, simply goes into the animal’s nostrils and closes without any pain. They will give you leverage to hold the cow’s head steady for working. Attach a short rope or chain to the nose holder for securing to a nearby post.

Using the ear tag tool, the tag should be attached in the middle third of the ear between the upper and lower ribs of the ear. It’s also a good idea to spray a shot of wound spray around an ear tag application site to prevent infection.

Finally, when you are driving and sorting cattle, a livestock sorting paddle is a handy tool. The paddle has rattles inside it for noise and the bright color can easily be seen by cattle hesitant to move. This paddle basically acts as a long arm to help guide cattle.

For the month of April, it’s also important to keep plenty of mineral salt available to cattle. This salt includes magnesium, calcium and other important micronutrients that guard against grass tetany. During April, the threat is higher because the grass is growing rapidly and not up taking all the nutrients cattle need. It’s important to supplement the cattle with the missing minerals.


If you are new to the cattle business, invest in these basic tools and supplies, and keep them on hand anytime you are working with cattle. Every item mentioned in this article can be purchased from your local Quality Co-op this spring. Stop by and stock up now to keep your herd healthy year-round.


John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.