The winter of 1965 was a particularly cold one, and we experienced a rare snow and ice storm that lasted several days. One day after the temperature had moved up above freezing, I received a call from Mrs. Cal Brooks from over on the county line road between Panola And Rusk. She sounded extremely excited and upset and stated that she had found several of her cows dead and two or three that were down and couldn't get up. She wanted me to come out as soon as possible to help her with her problem and gave me some directions to her farm. It seems that Mr. Brooks had passed away the previous summer, and she and her sister were trying to keep the place going and take care of the small cow herd that they had. I was a little uncertain where to go but decided to try and find her as best I could. I decided to stop at the Fairplay Grocery, a small country store about 12 miles out on Highway 79 South, (the Henderson highway to us natives), and see if I could get some better directions to Mrs. Brooks' home. It was still a pretty cold day, and there were 4 or 5 local men sitting around a heater in the back of the store visiting. I asked if anyone could tell me how to get to Mrs. Brooks' place. They all knew her and started giving me directions when one of the gentlemen, Mr. Clifton Jackson, volunteered to go with me and show me the way. I knew Mr. Jackson pretty well, so I was glad for him to go along with me for company.
We arrived at Mrs. Brooks' house shortly and found her and her sister outside waiting for us. As we started down in the woods and pasture beside her house, she began to tell about these cattle and how she was trying to make ends meet, so to speak, after her husband's death, and since the weather had been so bad lately that it had been 3 or 4 days since they had seen all the cows. Then this morning they had gotten out to check on things and had discovered the dead cows and the "downers." As we walked along, she turned to me and said, "Dr. Kyle, I don't know much about cows, but we've got some kind of bad disease in these cows and I just don't know what I'm goin' to do!" We found the dead cows and the ones that were down but also about 25 or 30 weak, emaciated, "skin and bone" critters that were still up and walking around. Now Mr. Jackson, who was seeing the same things I was seeing, was walking around among these poor creatures wringing his hands and uttering words like "Lord, Lord, My God, I can't believe this." Well, to say the least, this wasn't helping Mrs. Brooks' outlook at all. I did an autopsy on one of the dead cows before I drew myself up into my most professional stance and very diplomatically announced to Mrs. Brooks, "These cattle are suffering from malnutrition!" Now befire I could even think of anything else to say, Mrs. Brooks threw her hands up into the aid and shouted, "Oh my Lord, I knew there was something' bad the matter with these cows!!!" Again, before I could utter another word, Mr. Jackson, who was about 6 feet tall and weight about 250 pounds, said with a booming voice, "Aw hell, Cal, he means you're starvin' 'em to death!!" He was right!
After the "dust settled" around these alarming statements, Mrs. Brooks asked me for advice on what to do to try to save the remainder of the herd. I suggested that she try to find some tubs or feeding troughs to put out among the cows, go over to Carthage to Carthage Milling Company and buy a large quantity of a range meal and supplement called "Pro-Vi-Min" and fill those troughs and feed tubs full of this product. I also told her to keep them full of hay for the duration of the winter and until green grass started coming up for grazing. She had a little hay in her barn, but she had been pretty sparing about the amount she was feeding, so I recommended that she put out at least one bale of hay for each five cows as long as her supply lasted.
When I got back to my office in Carthage, I called Carthage Milling Co. and told them to expect Mrs. Brooks to come by.
I didn't have any further contact with Mrs. Brooks until sometime later that summer when she came by my office singing my praises and calling me a miracle worker for saving her herd of cows.
From that time until the present, "That Bad Disease" has been used as a label for any cow that is thin, weak, or in general poor condition that we encountered over the years in my veterinary practice.
**A little post script might be in order here to tell a little bit about Carthage Milling Co. and Pro-V-Min.
Carthage Milling Co. was a feed mill and store that sold and supplied cattle and other livestock feeds in this area. The company was started by local cattlemen and land owners: Mr. John Neal, Mr. Ernest Powers and Mr. John Pace. They also had a small cattle feed lot in conjunction with the feed mill where they fed out and fattened calves for beef.
Pro-Vi-Min was a feed formulated by this company as a means of maintaining adequate nutrition, along with hay, particularly in the winter months when adequate grass or other sources of forage was very sparse or not available at all. This was an excellent feed because it contained cottonseed meal as the protein source, milo meal as the carbohydrate source and a well-balanced mixture of vitamins and minerals. It could be distributed in troughs or feeders in large quantities without having to measure it out to the cattle with fear of overeating. Salt was added to the formulation in order to limit the amount of Pro-Vi-Min that a cow would eat at any one time. A cow will only take in a certain amount of salt over a given time. They could adjust the percentage of salt in the diet depending on the amount of feed that the rancher thought the cow needed to have. The usual percentage of salt added was about 30%, but it could be increased or decreased as the rancher wanted. That is the reason that I recommended to Mrs. Brooks to fill the troughs with the feed. It probably helped save the balance of her cattle herd.