Oliver Dowding - 09 February 2015
It is clear to most sensible observers that the use of antibiotics within agriculture is going to have to reduce due to increasing resistance problems and nightmare scenarios within human medicine. For organic farmers this is not such a big issue: organic standards require farmers to maximise preventative husbandry, and deploy other means than antibiotics, which are reserved for use as a last resort.
When using antibiotics, the penalty from massively increased withdrawal periods for milk/meat etc from the organic market, gives added confidence that organic farmers really only do use these precious medicines when essential. The highest welfare of animals is central to organic farming, and no farmer wants to put their cattle at risk or would cause unnecessary suffering, so we work in partnership with vets on treatment plans.
So, it seems perfectly logical to me that every livestock farmer should be looking for alternatives that can maintain the health of their animals and avoid unnecessary antibiotic use. That was precisely my predicament in 1989 when I began conversion of two dairy herds totalling 300 dairy cows and their 200 followers. The experiences gained over the next 15 years proved invaluable.
To begin I researched options available, no easy task in in the pre-internet era! The result was a visit for everyone working on my farm to one local organic farmer, Will Best and his herdsman Phil Hansford, who were very successfully using homoeopathy. I also acquired several copies of Phil’s book, “The Herdsman’s Introduction to Homoeopathy”.
I then discovered that Chris Day, a leading veterinary surgeon who had written several specialist books on using homoeopathy with animals, was running a one-day course for aspiring users, which I and my two principal herdsmen attended.
Following the visit to Will Best, we had a case of ringworm in the heifers turned out for their first grazing season. This is a fungal disease. Previously that would have required three weeks supplementary feeding with Fulcin added to bought in feed, whether we wanted to feed concentrates or not. Instead we applied a few drops of the remedy Baccillinum 30C to the water trough (make sure the water is clean) and within two weeks it was quite apparent the ringworm situation had cleared up.
Following this positive experience we acquired a number of remedies, which rapidly became a large collection, which I still have and won’t go out of date! The two principal herdsmen relished the challenge of something new and very quickly discovered that these new remedies delivered remarkable results. They enjoyed seeing mastitis cases cleared up in 24-48 hours, and not needing to withhold milk from the tank, nor risk contamination with antibiotic residues. They rapidly understood the differences in mastitis attacks, and the differing remedies required to deal with each, plus the differing potencies of those remedies. We also saw striking results using caulophylum when calving cattle, both pre-emptive and also during difficult calvings.
The Soil Association standards allow the use of homeopathy if it is used as part of an effective health and welfare management plan, working closely with a vet. Personally, I believe that farmers should be more proactive in prompting other livestock farmers to utilise what are clearly large potential gains. Sound training is an excellent starting point, and I highly recommend that which is expertly provided by Homoeopathy at Wellie Level.
Find yourself other farmers successfully using homoeopathy. There are plenty of them, and they most certainly aren’t all organic. Once the potential is discovered, the farmer marvels that they didn’t know about it before. Frequently they are unaware of how it works, but as with all medication which we don’t understand, the reality of successful treatment is there for all to see. Like parents with their children, there is probably nothing worse for a decent livestock farmer than seeing their animals suffer unnecessarily. So why would we deny ourselves the opportunity and potential to alleviate this that homeopathy provides?
Oliver Dowding has farmed organically near Wincanton in South East Somerset for 25 years. Until 2004 he was running over 300 dairy cows and 200 followers. He has been a Soil Association trustee since 2013, and member of the Farmer and Grower Board for much longer.