"Nothing Has Changed"
Here is the conversation I had on Tuesday this week:
Me: How are things going with the calves?
Them: Okay. Well, not so well, really. We are having a big problem with scours in our 10 to 14 day-old calves. We even lost two - the first deaths since the beginning of this year.
Me: Oh, tell me about what you are doing.
Them: We are taking care of the sick calves with electrolytes, some get antibiotics. You know, keep them alive until they get through it.
Them: But, I can't figure out why we are having a problem. Nothing has changed. [emphasis supplied by me]
Oh, my. If I have heard that phrase once I have heard it hundreds of times. "Nothing has changed."
What the person was telling me was that of all the things that came readily to mind they could not pick any one of them that represented a change that caught their attention. With a health problem in young calves like scours the causes are multiple - lots and lots of factors can favor diarrhea or "hyperfluidity of feces."
I suggested making a written list of all the places from birth to 10 days of age where:
1. Calves might be exposed to lots of bacteria and parasites including calving, transportation, bacteria in colostrum, bacteria in daily feedings of milk.
2. Calves might be subject to stresses (temperature, wetness, wind, lack of enough food, lack of water, handling, and so on) that could weaken their immune defenses.
3. Calves passive immunity from colostrum might be less than ideal including testing for passive immunity levels.
Well, we were interrupted and never had an opportunity to finish the conversation. But the challenge is still there - when confronted with a disease outbreak how can we avoid the mental trap of thinking, "Nothing has Changed."