Just keep taking the tablets; and the secret of perfect hair.

cattle drenching horn

I must admit I’ve never had to give tablets to a cat. As far as I’m concerned I’ll be delighted if this happy situation continues. Giving them to a dog is a doddle. Some of them now look (and apparently taste) like some sort of dog treat. Even those that aren’t so camouflaged soon disappear in a piece of bread, butter and touch of marmite; squeezed together and proffered gingerly lest you loose a finger to the enthusiastic patient.

But have you ever considered giving tablets to a cow? With a calf it’s not too difficult. Stand behind it; grasp the bottom jaw with your thumb inside the calf’s mouth. It is really really important that your thumb is in the gap behind the incisors and in front of the molars. The thumb also holds the tongue in place. With two fingers of your other hand slide the tablet over your thumb and carefully avoiding getting your fingers chewed by the molars, push the tablet back and the swallowing reflex takes over.

Try doing that with an adult animal, or one over about a month old!

So with larger animals, if possible, whatever is in the tablet is given in a liquid form, so you just pour it. Again there are ways of doing this. Ideally you use the same grip, holding the lower jaw with your thumb across the tongue, and then slide the nozzle of whatever you’re using in to the mouth, opposite your thumb. Hold the animal’s head up so the liquid pours out and the animal swallows it.

It’s a very old technique. The picture is of a cow horn. The pointed end (which obviously is not longer pointed) goes into the cow’s mouth and you use the horn as a funnel, pouring out of a jug into the other end.

Technology has moved on and to be honest a wine bottle is excellent for this sort of task. But it has to be the right bottle. You want a long narrow neck, no fancy bulbous bits. I’ve known people go into an off-licence and purchase a wine purely because it was inexpensive and the bottle was perfect. The wine was doubtless consumed first before the bottle was signed across to the businesses medical section. Due to the exigencies of fate our current wine bottle is a Tia Maria bottle which once you get used to it is actually quite good.

The problem is that the cow might object. Now as a small child I had to drink medicine off a spoon. I might not like it, I might object, but I had to do it. I’ve never yet convinced a cow to drink medicine off a spoon. Given the dose, the spoon would probably look a bit daunting. There again I have had calves take medicine from a spoon. A few years back we had some which were recovering from illness and the vet suggested we give them cod-liver oil as a pick-me-up. I did try them with a spoon, being the cheerful optimist I am, and much to my surprise they enjoyed it so much they would drink if off the spoon. Admittedly they also sucked the spoon enthusiastically looking for more.

As an aside the vet commented that he knew some farmers who sold cattle as ‘store’, (by which I mean they were sold for other people to fatten) often mixed cod-liver oil in the rations for the last few weeks. Amongst other things it gets into their hair and makes it really shine. Not only does it do them good, it makes them look good as well. So forget your fancy shampoos and expensive hair lotions, a spoon full of cod-liver oil will get your hair positively glowing.

Anyway having inadvertently solved all your tonsorial problems, back to the cattle.

That is, the large cattle who object to being given their medicine. It’s all very well and good to try and hold the cow’s head, but the head is a pretty big thing. It’s also supported by a neck with an awful lot of muscle. So if a cow inadvertently swings its head across and catches you in the chest, it can knock you flying. That’s without the cow moving forwards or backwards and knocking you down.
So farmers tend to have a cattle crush. The amount of TB testing we have to do, they’re almost compulsory nowadays. The cow walks into it and there are some nice round steel bars that restrict movement. They don’t ‘trap’ the animal, and the term ‘crush’ is entirely a misnomer as the animal isn’t held firmly. It’s designed so the animal is ‘constrained’ but is unable to hurt itself, and equally as important, is unable to hurt you.

So as you give the animal the medicine, the head can now still move about, but far less than it could previously, and the animal cannot trample you.

When you look at a good cattle crush, it’s of solid construction with a lot of metal. This is because you don’t want it to move when the animal steps into it. When over half a ton of bovine steps onto something, or pushes something, it’s surprising how often that something gets out of the way. So a good crush is solid enough for both you and the cow to get a sense of security.

There’s a lot to be said for heavy metal.


And if you don’t believe me, ask the dog. She has her own opinions as to whether certain animals need to be restrained!

As a reviewer said, “Like the other two books in this series, Jim Webster gives us a perspective of farm life we may not have appreciated. Some of the facts given will come as a shock to non-farming readers, but they do need to be read. Having said that, there are plenty of humorous anecdotes to make the book an enjoyable read.”

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44 thoughts on “Just keep taking the tablets; and the secret of perfect hair.

  1. xantilor March 17, 2019 at 6:01 pm Reply

    It seems odd that calves like cod-liver oil, given the improbability of their coming across it in nature. Dick Francis in one of his novels had a stolen horse recognizable because it enjoyed eating sardines, again a bit odd.

    • jwebster2 March 17, 2019 at 6:02 pm Reply

      Yes, it surprised me but there again, think of the tastes we like which aren’t initially found in nature until we start cooking

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 17, 2019 at 7:22 pm Reply

    If Armageddon comes, and I happen to survive, everything I’ve learned here will be put to good use. Assuming I can remember it! The image of how to get the medicine into the cow will stick. Assuming, again, that some medicine survives the Apocalypse.

    • jwebster2 March 17, 2019 at 8:25 pm Reply

      Ah, with the knowledge you merely sit there being the tribal wise woman and instruct somebody young and muscular as to how it should be done 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 17, 2019 at 9:36 pm

        And try to teach them as fast as they can absorb, and hope they can afford to remember I was useful! Post-apocalyptic is tough on people who are not in the prime of health to start.

      • jwebster2 March 17, 2019 at 9:42 pm

        Actually if it is apocalyptic, you don’t have to worry about the ‘post’ bit because the apocalypse is the end

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 17, 2019 at 9:45 pm

        I sit corrected.

      • jwebster2 March 17, 2019 at 9:51 pm

        It’s interesting how the meaning of the word has changed
        Apparently the original Greek literally meant “an uncovering”) is a disclosure or revelation of knowledge.
        So you could describe the final chapter of a ‘whodunnit’ detective novel as ‘an apocalypse 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 17, 2019 at 9:56 pm

        I think it may have something to do with the four horsemen of the apocalypse – and my Book of Revelation is not current, but isn’t that where I should be looking?

      • jwebster2 March 18, 2019 at 6:50 am

        As I commented to Xantilor, the word has evolved, the apocalypse isn’t what it used to be 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 18, 2019 at 8:00 am

        Neither is ‘decimate’ – comes from not bringing up American children with the metric system: they have no idea what the prefixes mean.

      • jwebster2 March 18, 2019 at 8:19 am

        decimate is generally abused, even in this country where people have been taught the metric system
        I suspect it’s because their teachers didn’t know what it meant either 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 19, 2019 at 10:58 pm

        Ignorance in teachers is just… so wrong!

      • jwebster2 March 20, 2019 at 6:26 am

        We had a spell in this country where they were so desperate for teachers they were taking them for training with very low qualifications. Fortunately that tranche was older than me so they’ll all have retired

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 20, 2019 at 8:20 am

        They’re underpaid as a profession (considering what they’re supposed to be doing), which doesn’t attract the best candidates. And when they are dedicated and competent, are loaded down with paperwork.

        Our teacher’s unions are so afraid of the system of evaluating merit that they pay on seniority, which means the longest tenured teachers are sometimes the ones who can’t get a better job.

        I homeschooled my kids; I would never want to teach other people’s kids. I admire teachers being willing to try.

      • jwebster2 March 20, 2019 at 9:08 am

        In the UK one of the teachers’ unions has basically driven the agenda so that teachers are no longer regarded as ‘one of the professions’ and are just Local Authority employees
        I think that’s a step back. If they were still a profession on a par with solicitors and doctors then we’d probably have a better system

  3. jenanita01 March 17, 2019 at 7:25 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on anita dawes and jaye marie.

    • jwebster2 March 17, 2019 at 8:23 pm Reply

      I was thinking of opening a salon 😉

  4. jenanita01 March 17, 2019 at 7:26 pm Reply

    Not sure about given pills to a cow, but giving them to a cat is impossible!

    • jwebster2 March 17, 2019 at 8:23 pm Reply

      I have been reliably informed of this. 🙂

  5. xantilor March 17, 2019 at 9:52 pm Reply

    I object! Post-apocalyptic must be a thing because I once wrote a post-apocalyptic novel…QED.

    • jwebster2 March 18, 2019 at 6:49 am Reply

      It’s a word that’s evolved. It’s interesting that we don’t talk about post-Armageddon so much, or post-Ragnarok
      Yet the apocalypse has been repurposed to be a survivable event (sort of) and mainly in literature.
      I wonder if it’s a case of the politicians and lobbyists have threatened us with ‘the apocalypse’ so often we’ve started to experiment with it?

  6. willowdot21 March 18, 2019 at 3:35 pm Reply

    Scary work and dangerous.💜🌹

    • jwebster2 March 18, 2019 at 4:05 pm Reply

      Not especially scary as I’ve spent virtually all my life wandering about among cows, since before I was tall enough to see over them
      Dangerous, well it can be, all of us have ended up with bruises and similar, but unless you’ve got people there who don’t know what they’re doing, nobody should get really hurt
      That’s why it can be dangerous having somebody like a government inspector who doesn’t know how to behave

      • willowdot21 March 18, 2019 at 5:15 pm

        I can’t certainly understand that. But ever since I was 19yrs and got caught up in a stampede of cows with only my hubby and thin bush for protection. I have been really scared of cows 🤭💜

      • jwebster2 March 18, 2019 at 5:48 pm

        I can understand that, and when a group of cattle do start charging round, often for the sheer joy of running, or curiosity or whatever it can be a bit unnerving. There are times when you can turn round, clap your hands and tell them to behave. There are times when that doesn’t work and you really have to know cattle to know which is which 🙂
        But I’ve had a lifetime of it
        An animal in a crush isn’t scary as such. With her my job is to keep her calm, keep talking to her, and to get whatever job we’re doing done as soon as possible so she can go back out with her mates. 🙂

      • willowdot21 March 18, 2019 at 6:15 pm

        Yes I understand that and I respect you and your bovine ladies💜🌹

      • jwebster2 March 18, 2019 at 6:18 pm

        in this case the female of the species is not normally more deadly than the male 😉

      • willowdot21 March 18, 2019 at 7:42 pm

        Yes indeed 💜

      • jwebster2 March 18, 2019 at 9:52 pm

        Oh I respect my bovine ladies as well. They are well worth respecting 🙂

      • willowdot21 March 18, 2019 at 10:10 pm

        They truly are 💜

  7. Jack Eason March 21, 2019 at 5:55 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    More from Jim in Cumbria…

    • jwebster2 March 21, 2019 at 6:29 am Reply

      Now you know how to do a job you never wanted to do 🙂

      • Jack Eason March 21, 2019 at 7:04 am

        Believe it or not – been there done that many years ago…

      • jwebster2 March 21, 2019 at 7:13 am

        Oh I believe it, amazing what some people have managed to fit into interesting lives 🙂

  8. patriciaruthsusan March 23, 2019 at 9:38 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    First, an interesting read on how to give animals medicine then the offer of a book by Jim Webster about life on the farm and the part collies play in it. There’s also a review by a satisfied reader.

    • jwebster2 March 23, 2019 at 9:09 pm Reply

      not a matter of any delicacy 😉

  9. patriciaruthsusan March 24, 2019 at 5:23 am Reply

    I imagine not. 😀 — Suzanne

  10. rootsandroutes2012 March 25, 2021 at 6:41 am Reply

    Tia Maria? Cheap? I’m in the wrong job 🙂

    • jwebster2 March 25, 2021 at 7:18 am Reply

      Amazing where I pick up second hand wine bottles from
      To be fair, rarely from Methodist or Baptist clergy 🙂

      • rootsandroutes2012 March 25, 2021 at 8:08 am

        Wine maybe, but the Baptist clergyman who lived four doors down from me in my Carlton Avenue days had a stunning collection of whiskies.

      • jwebster2 March 25, 2021 at 9:41 am

        Purely medicinal 🙂

      • rootsandroutes2012 March 25, 2021 at 2:15 pm

        Of course!

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