Thursday, 15 March 2018

Dettloff Delivers

Peel Forest Hall was full on Tuesday for a tutorial from organic vet and old American guy, Dr Paul Dettloff, who ran a cow-based vet practice for 21 years in Wisconsin, until his commercial world changed in 1988. Some of his biggest customers switched to organics and signed up to a new co-op that has since become the massive Organic Valley business. 

Responding to market signals, Dettloff started researching and cooking-up natural cow remedies based on plants such as garlic, echinacea, and aloe vera. Decades later, aged 76 he's still advising Organic Valley's farmers, selling his tinctures and generally staying engaged in his life's passion: healthy cows.

He did 3 talks. The first was about soil and covered the main components of biological/organic farming: Albrecht's cation balancing guidelines for soil structure, trace elements and the foliar feeding of microbes & trace elements. Along the way Dettloff drew parallels between healthy soils and healthy digestive systems in cows. For example, intestinal philli were analogised with root-hairs; and the optimal soil pH was said to be the same as the cow rumen at which fertility is optimised. The theme was: feed your cows a healthy diet & you'll have little need of a vet.

The second talk was framed around a list of about a dozen tools available to organic dairy farmers. I'd have preferred more time spent on this. There was a lot of interesting stuff about the role of different plants and how to get those roles activated in a cow, eg through mucus membranes. It just came through very fast, so I'm looking forward to reviewing it more slowly on the video.

The third talk was about reading cow hair, such as the escutcheon lines between the vulva & udder that identify production and other patterns indicating heat, pregnancy & good health. It included comments on bull configuration and opinions on breeding objectives.

After lunch we went out to see some of Bryan Clearwater's cows and continue the discussion, including about how to avoid dry cow therapy, stray voltage and pointing out features of the cows.

In a diverse crowd, I met 4 people with whom I had previous indirect connections and enjoyed discussing our mutual reasons for being there. For me, it was like a meeting of the slightly off-beat farmers' club. Sadly, I did not run into Glen Herud, though he was there.  

Dettloff invested against a constraint and has developed what looks like a great range of alternative remedies. Competition in action.

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