The galloways required their first “hands-on” treatment on Tuesday, providing me with the first real opportunity to work with them at close quarters. They needed a fluke and worm treatment – two sub-cutaneous injections to clear them of any parasites they may have picked up over the summer. Having just spent a good deal of money on hay for them to eat over the winter, I resent the idea that even a penny’s worth of that nutrition is wasted on feeding worms, particularly when these girls are still growing and need the best start in life. Fluke are a more serious problem, and although cows are far less likely to die of fluke than sheep, the experience of hosting blood-hungry flesh-burrowers can hardly be all that pleasant. Livers which have been badly scarred by fluke damage tend to be condemned at the abattoir, and while these girls won’t be killed for perhaps ten years or more and are almost certain to pick up a fluke or two, it’s simply a matter of keeping them in good condition.
They really didn’t enjoy being jagged, particularly since this was the first time I had ever injected a cow and I struggled to get the (disturbingly thick) needle through their hides. Two heifers refused treatment altogether and they will now have to be rounded up and dealt with at the weekend. In the meantime, it was a pleasure to really get in amongst these animals for the first time – to feel their warmth and smell their sweet, slightly farty aroma of fermenting grass.