Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Two Conferences Cover Livestock Health

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Winter 2000-2001 \ Conferences

By Diane Shivera

On October 18 Henrietta Beaufait, D.V.M., of Albion, gave a well attended workshop in Unity on the principles of homeopathy (which led to a lively discussion about vaccinations) and on the value of understanding the Materia Medica. For those of you using homeopathy to heal your animals, we are organizing a study group to address various aspects of homeopathy, including diseases, the value of certain remedies and other topics. Please let me know if you are interested but could not make the workshop.

To explain how homeopathy works, Beaufait used the analogy of a road map. Simplified, when you are unhealthy, you are not in Maine. The remedy helps you find your way back home, to a healthy state. She explained that homeopathy is the use of a small dose of energized substance that causes similar symptoms to the symptoms of the acute or chronic disease. It stimulates the immune system sharply but gently to find a clear road back to health. When Dr. Hanneman was working with monks transcribing old texts, he made a valuable rediscovery of an old theory using this idea. An old technique used dilutions of substances that, in large doses, caused symptoms; the dilutions cured diseases with the same symptoms. Hanneman went on to do “provings” of many substances and to refine the dilution techniques.

Before homeopathy can be used to cure any disease state, the animal must be living in a healthy environment. For those of you following good organic practices, this will not be an issue. Beaufait was emphatic that the animals have access to the outdoors. If the animals are ruminants, they must be able to graze for as much of the year as the weather will allow and at least get outdoors for exercise the rest of the year. Their grain must not be too finely ground to avoid becoming too soluble and acidifying the rumen contents; this can lead to many sorts of health problems. In addition, all animals should have access to at least a mineral mix. Preferably, animals can consume individual minerals as they need them. The best way is to allow free choice of kelp, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and zinc.

A discussion concerned two remedies to help with milk fever. Calcarea carbonica is for large cows with heavy limbs who are easy going and are often the boss cow. They are heavy milkers but keep condition, are very thirsty after calving and can be prone to constipation. The cow who needs Calcarea phosphorica is small, nervous, lean and active. These cows are often scrambling to be the boss, do not like to be restrained and have a tendency toward diarrhea.

Beaufait has a protocol for vaccinating. Her greatest concern is the use of combination vaccines, which, she believes, cause the most problems and give the least benefit. Contact her if you would like more specifics.

I attended the Alternative and Herbal Livestock Health Conference in Connecticut, which was, I think, the first conference to attempt to gather many current practitioners and researchers in this field. The aim of the conference was exciting, but realizing how little research has been done in the alternative health field with livestock was disappointing. A few studies have been done on South American plants, including cats claw (Uncaria tomentosa, or uña de gato in Spanish), which has proven effective as an antioxidant and as an anti-inflammatory. Products will soon be available to speed the healing of livestock intestinal tracts after a bout of coccidiosis. Dr. Edward Scheaffer, DVM, from Pennsylvania, spoke about the successes of his homeopathic practice. Anthony Knight from Colorado State University had an eye-opening presentation about toxic plants. Some plants, such as red root pigweed, will cause nitrate poisoning if grown in extremely stressful conditions, he said. A healthy environment is necessary to produce healthy pastures. I have the proceedings of this conference at the MOFGA office if anyone is interested in reading them.

About the author: Diane is the assistant technical director for MOFGA. You can reach her at the MOFGA office in Unity.
MOF&G Cover Winter 2000-2001