Cows and cannabis


A firsthand glimpse into the daily life of a mixed animal practice veterinarian.

Hemp is a close relative of the marijuana plant with a much lower level of THC that addicts crave. It has quite a bitter taste and grows to over six feet tall.

It was raised by farmers at the request of the Government during World War II to be used as fiber to replace the tropical sisal for rope that was in short supply. It is a very aggressive weed and hard to eradicate.

Gene called one evening at milking time and said he had a cow that went down in the stanchion and couldn't get up.

Wisconsin farmers commonly house cows in two manners.

The traditional stanchion barn has two or more rows of stanchions to hold cows by their heads with a gutter behind and a driveway usually 8 feet wide. These farms almost all use pasture land.

The second more recent innovation is the milking parlor into which cows are driven to stand close together to be milked. These farms are almost exclusively “dry lot” which means the cows seldom if ever see the green grass of a pasture.

I viewed the cow lying placidly with her rear end in the gutter. On physical exam I could detect no abnormality.

We rolled her up on the driveway and I administered some stimulants and intravenous calcium solution to no avail. I shocked her with my electric cattle prod and she seemed oblivious to it.

“Gene” I said “Where did this cow come from?”

He said he bought her two days earlier at an auction on a milking parlor farm. Perplexed I left for home and the often late supper.

Halfway there I had a vision of a milk fever case I had treated down in Gene's lowland pasture earlier that summer.

It had been very dry and the pasture had been closely grazed and the grass was completely dried up --- except for the large patch of six foot high luxuriously green hemp, a plant that is very drought tolerant.

Hemp is very bitter so the cows that knew better would never eat it. I stopped my pickup, turned around and drove back to the farm

“Gene” I said, “Your cow is on a little trip. She should be back tomorrow.”

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