Everything on this list is available without a prescription. Examples of what to buy are linked to certain companies that sell the supplies. The prices may not be the cheapest, I just wanted to give you an idea of where to start for your searches and to see what each product looks like!
1. Calcium Gluconate 500mL bottle ($3-5 each) When your cow has milk fever, this one bottle could make the difference between life and death, within the matter of a few hours. If you’re afraid of IV, then you can at least get some calcium in the cow SubQ. When a cow is down, her metabolism has shut down also, so oral calcium may just sit in her body and not have any positive effects. (Money wise, just remember that for $5 or maybe a few bottles, so say $15 plus cost of IV tube, so $30, you may save the life of your $1000-2000 cow!)
2. IV set ($6-12) For using with the bottle of calcium, whether IV or sub Q.
3. Needles and syringes ($0.30 cents and up) Have on hand a few needles and syringes. I recommend needle sizes of: 16, 18, and 20mm. Each, they cost just a few pennies, and you don’t have to buy a whole box. Syringes I recommend 3cc, 6cc, 12cc, and 60 cc. Again, just keep a couple of each on hand. For a few dollars, you will be glad to have them when you need them. Note: these are disposable one-time-use products! Reusing needles and syringes means you risk spreading blood diseases that you may not even know your cow has.
4. Beet pulp ($14 per bag, lasts a long time!) Comes in shreds or pellets. One cup of pellets combined with ½ to 1 gallon of water makes for a LOT of pulp. Helps regulate rumen and keeps manure at a healthy consistency, preventing loose stools or constipation. (We make our own now, or try to look for organic varieties, if the exist!)
5. Magnet ($2-3) If your cow has not had one, have the vet give her one or do it yourself, if you have a balling gun and the know how. Prevention is better than cure!
6. Dewormer ($ depends on type, from $4 per dose and up) Whether medicine or natural dewormers, make sure to deworm your cow at least in spring and fall. Be careful to read directions as far as milk withdrawal or meat withdrawal, if necessary.
http://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=30e07563-7b6a-11d5-a192-00b0d0204ae5&gas=eprinex (You can get a dose from your vet at a much cheaper price if you only have one or a few animals.)
Natural options that can be used on all your animals: http://fiascofarm.com/herbs/wormer.htm
7. Probiotics ($7-30 depending on strength and number of doses) Especially if you’re not prone to using antibiotics, probiotics work well for calf and cow at all ages as a preventative or in stronger doses when animals are sick. Can be put in milk, molasses water, soaked beet pulp, etc. Keep in freezer to maintain potency and one jar will last you a long time.
Probios (easy to find at your feed store, but lower strength): http://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=30e07951-7b6a-11d5-a192-00b0d0204ae5&gas=probios (1 pound containers are $7-10)
Fastrack (top strength, but found only in some stores): http://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=30e07a8b-7b6a-11d5-a192-00b0d0204ae5&gas=fastrack
8. Loose minerals & salt ($7-13 (Salt), $25-50 (Minerals), one bag lasts a long time) Purchase locally, because of weight. A heavy bag is expensive to ship. Try to find dairy specific minerals, if you can.
9. Teat dip ($12/gallon and up) Again, preventing mastitis is much cheaper than treating it! We pre-dip with a thin iodine solution (or soapy water) and post dip with a thicker emollient iodine solution. Every milking.
10. Sterile milk tubes ($ pennies) Keep sterile milk tubes on hand. We recommend sending in monthly somatic cell samples to a local dairy lab for good management. Worst case scenario, you have them on hand
Buy a few from your vet or nearest lab. They should be 20-30 cents each. Keep in a sealed bag and do not open them until you are ready to use them. Always use alcohol wipes to clean the teat and pre-squirt about 10 drops out before filling the sample container.
Rx bonus: Spectramast LC or Pirsue – Best to keep a couple mastitis tubes on hand in case of mastitis. Be sure to send of lab samples before ever treating with antibiotics, as treatment will invalidate any culture results.
This is by no means comprehensive, but a lot of people seem overwhelmed by my complete medicine kit list (which is mainly for reference, not that you’d need to keep it all on hand anyway, but most dairy farmers do). If you feel strongly about another type of medicinal tool that’s of top priority to your farm, feel free to add a comment to this post!