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Minerals, mastitis and miracle cures

Its funny that I have recently read two very different books that both focused on the importance of minerals for ongoing health.  The first book was Natural Cattle Care, by Pat Coleby, as recommended by Bel at Home Grown.  I was eager to read the book as Bella had mastitis at the time and I wanted to know the quick solution. The first few chapters are all about minerals in the soil.  I read them, thinking to myself "yeah, yeah, get on with the natural cattle care!", until I realised that was it.  Pat's theory is that if cattle have all their mineral, vitamin and protein needs met, they will be naturally healthy.  The interactions of the minerals is quite complex.  A deficiency in one mineral can cause a deficiency in another, so its hard to summarise, however the main points for me were:
  • Calcium and magnesium levels must be sufficient or cows will be susceptible to mastitis infection
  • Copper must be sufficient or cattle may suffer from worms
  • Sufficient sulphur will prevent external parasites (ticks and fleas)
  • Other trace elements are important for overall health
  • These minerals must be either in the soil (and therefore in the grass/plants eaten by the cattle) or supplemented in their feed.  I have organised for a soil test so that we can see what minerals are lacking and in the meantime we feed all the cattle a mineral mix, some extra sulphur for each of them and extra dolomite (calcium and magnesium) for Bella.
The second book I read was Norishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, which again began with a discussion on the importance of minerals and vitamins, this time for human health.  At first I found the similarities a bit weird, but I suppose its no surprise that cattle have similar mineral needs to ourselves.  The premise of both books is that if cattle or humans are receiving sufficient nutrition (i.e. minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats etc) then we will all be in good health.  This is to say that we only get sick when our bodies are compromised in some way and more susceptible to infection (whether by bacteria, virus, parasites or cancer).  This means that they key to good health is not preventative chemicals, as we had been using on our cattle, such as drenches for worms and ticks, and antibiotics for mastitis infections.  If we balance the body's nutritional needs, it can fight infection/invasion without the need for chemicals.



This seems so simple, but it is not common practice.  Is that because the drug companies and agrochemical companies make so much money from letting us think that we need to take medicines to maintain our health?  Balancing our nutrition would be cheaper and easier and lead to long-term health rather than a dependency on drugs.

What do you think?

You might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy

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