Weatherford Democrat

Local News

May 4, 2014

NOW HEAR THIS: Of Lice and Men (and Cattle)

By LARRY M. JONES

With all due respect to John Steinbeck’s oft time controversial novel, Of Mice and Men, we have a slightly different problem down on the “pore farm.”  It doesn’t involve mice or hobos.  Our problems involve lice and cattle.

From my earliest recollection, I have been around cattle and other livestock.  My parents and their ancestors before them were all livestock producers and farmers.  Animal husbandry has been a key facet of our existence.  

My Grandpa Jones was highly regarded throughout the community as a very astute, self-educated man with considerable skills as a veterinarian.  Since he was born almost a half a century before Texas A & M’s School of Veterinary Medicine was founded, Grandpa’s credentials were amassed through books he ordered by mail and experience working with sick animals---both his own and those of neighbors.  When anyone in the area had ailing livestock, Grandpa was the “go to guy.”  I recall that even in his late eighties, he was never happier than when he was doctoring a sick cow or horse.

For whatever the reason, somehow I never plucked that particular gene off the family tree.  I suppose I’m a bit too much of a control freak, and dealing with animals, particularly sick ones, can be quite frustrating for someone who likes his rows straight and all his “ducks in a perfect row.”

This year, it seems like my cattle have been plagued with more than a normal amount of parasites, especially lice.  The older I get, the less inclined I have become to getting out there in the corral and spraying, dusting, or applying assorted pour-on medications to deal with these parasites.  While it would be best to be a bit more vigilant in my animal husbandry practices, until this year, it never seemed to be a high priority.  While most of my cattle showed little or no ill effects to this heavier than normal plague of lice and flies, a couple of my older cows began “looking poorly.”  Coming off a harder than normal winter with large calves sucking them down, they were getting in bad shape.  A few weeks ago, with my trusty feed bucket, I was able to get both of them in the corral leaving those big greedy calves on the outside.  After a few sacks of 20% breeder cubes, a dose of pour-on parasite medication, a weekly spraying for flies, and no calves, the old girls are starting to cast a much wider shadow.

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