“Natural” or Not: Choosing Products

Sienna waits impatiently for me to open the gate, so she can go to the barn for feed.

“All-natural,” “organic,” and “farm fresh” are words that are slapped on products all the time. Some may say a gallon of whole milk from the store is “natural” and “farm fresh.” I tend to lean more toward thinking the raw milk I bring into the house in my pail is more “natural” and “farm fresh.” However, that still wouldn’t be “organic” enough for some. Different people have different ideas of what constitutes something “natural.” 

Milk cow enthusiasts, though we may be a small group, are no different. Some family milk cow owners are very picky about what they will or won’t give their milk cows. They choose to treat maladies with homeopathic remedies. They don’t use feed when they milk, or only organic feeds. And, they use a “natural” fly spray.

Flies look like black specks all over Sienna’s back and side. They are a constant irritant for livestock.

I am a proponent of going a “natural” route when you can. It’s laudable to me that some owners can milk a cow without any feed. (It’s also rare.) For my own family’s health, I try to treat sickness without resorting to pharmaceuticals, choosing natural remedies, vitamins, essential oils, etc. However, with my milk cow, Sienna, I don’t go overboard with the whole “holistic” approach. After all, she’s a cow!

Not long ago, I wrote a post about treating mastitis. I wanted to share why I choose to treat mastitis with antibiotics instead of going a more “natural” route with homeopathic remedies, as some people might do.

Here are my reasons: 1. I see mastitis as a serious infection that takes a fast-acting, no-nonsense approach to knock out before it causes serious damage. 2. It’s true that some natural remedies might be successful in fighting a mastitis infection, but natural remedies are slower and don’t always work. 3. I throw out any milk I get while my cow is on the antibiotics. 4. I’m not going to eat my milk cow, so I’m not worried about tainted meat. 5. I’ve found that Jerseys aren’t very hardy and, therefore, don’t seem to have a strong, natural immune system. 

Not having a strong immune defense is also why I always use the regular wormers to treat parasites instead of something like diatomaceous earth (D.E.). D.E. is a “natural” way to worm animals. You can sprinkle it on their feed. Our Longhorns are a hardy breed with a strong natural immunity. We’ve always wormed them solely with D.E. without any problems. I also make sure to worm my cow during breaks from milking, just to be on the safe side.

I understand that some people don’t like to give their milk cows traditional feed, because of any contaminants that might be in the feed, such as what was used to spray the crops with, GMOs, etc. However, the bulk of my milk cow’s diet consists of grass. I’m not worried about the trace amounts of contaminants that might possibly be in her feed. Besides, organic feed is out of my budget, Sienna needs the extra nutrition to keep her production up, and feeding her while I milk keeps her happy.

Here’s the fly spray I use. I put mine in a pump sprayer for easy dispersal.

I also use traditional fly spray on my cow. Usually, I get Permethrin. It’s a synthetic form of pyrethrum, which is derived from the chrysanthemum flower. Every product I use for Sienna (wormers, antibiotics, fly spray) is labeled as “safe for dairy animals.” Although the fly spray I use is not technically “natural,” it works good, it’s inexpensive, and I’m not concerned about it being harmful. I’m always careful to avoid getting it close to the udder anyway. If Sienna comes in and doesn’t have many flies, I don’t even spray her. Obviously, in the cooler seasons, I don’t spray her at all. However, for those interested, I will leave you with a recipe for natural fly spray. It was handed down to me from Sienna’s previous owner. 

Natural Fly Spray (Makes 1 quart)
½-1 oz. citronella oil
½ oz. camphor oil
½ cup mineral oil
⅓ cup hair conditioner
⅓ cup vegetable glycerin*
1 tsp. gentle dish soap
Directions: Mix together first three ingredients. Then add the conditioner and glycerin. Mix thoroughly before adding water to fill the remainder of the quart jar. Shake vigorously before adding dish soap. Then stir gently. 
*glycerin may be skipped

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