Tending to the health of the herd
30-year LSU Vet Med client secures best care for cows
It was late evening when rancher and business owner, Lisa Scrantz, discovered that her Holstein bull, Hank, had caught his back leg in a culvert. Hank’s leg had snapped, and Scrantz was unable to free him, particularly since a Holstein bull can stand six feet tall and weigh up to 2,500 pounds. Scrantz called Mustajab Mirza, DVM, DACVS, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine large animal surgery specialist. Dr. Mirza drove 50 minutes from Baton Rouge to Scrantz’ Krotz Springs, Louisiana, ranch situated alongside Bayou Courtableau. An associate professor at LSU Vet Med, he brought students with him to help and teach. They assessed the bull’s open fracture of the tibia and determined the extent of his injuries, which required that he be euthanized.
“Dr. Mirza once even came one evening on his day off when a cow was prolapsing (an abnormal repositioning of an organ). He is a fabulous and compassionate veterinarian. I enjoy working with him,” said Scrantz.
Scrantz, who is a partner in an accounting firm in Baton Rouge, is a 30-year client of the LSU Large Animal service. From calves born prematurely and needing plasma transfusions to cows requiring end-of-life care, Lisa Scrantz knows she can count on LSU Vet Med veterinarians to provide excellent lifelong care for the herd that lives on her 300-acre ranch.
“LSU is putting excellent veterinarians into the world,” Scrantz said.
Scrantz has donated a substantial amount of equipment for anesthesia and food animal services to the LSU’s Large Animal Clinic. She also plans to make an estate gift that will provide funds for student scholarships and other purposes. She appreciates the learning opportunities she’s received observing LSU Vet Med clinicians and wants to help future veterinary students.
“I’ve been fortunate and successful in my life,” she said, though her career trajectory had its twists and turns. She attended Southeastern University pursuing an education degree. She later transferred to LSU to study petroleum land management. She worked on oil rigs as a roughneck, working 12-hour shifts, seven days on and seven days off. Roughnecks perform activities such as setting up and maintaining oil rigs, preparing the area for drilling operations, assembling pipes, and driving trucks. She made another career shift when she began working for James “Blondie” Bennett of Bennett & Bennett Associates Inc., a local tax and accounting firm. Lisa began LSU courses in accounting and taxation. In 1987, Bennett retired and sold his business to Lisa. She became an enrolled agent specializing in taxes and representing clients before the IRS.
“It helps my sanity to check on my cows and get on a tractor after work,” she said.
Over the years, Scrantz and Dr. Mirza have become friends. The two once took a four-wheeler and chased a cow through the woods for more than an hour to catch her so Dr. Mirza could examine her.
“She’s constantly working to improve her ranch. She knows how to operate every piece of equipment,” Dr. Mirza said.
“If I can’t load up a cow due to its immobility, I call LSU, and they come,” said Scrantz, who commutes weekdays from Krotz Springs to her Baton Rouge accounting firm located on Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge.
“She takes excellent care of her animals. She probably has the oldest living cow in the state of Louisiana. If I were a cow I’d want to live on her ranch,” Dr. Mirza said.
When a two-day-old calf named Buddy wouldn’t suckle and was becoming weak this summer, Scrantz wrapped him up, put him in her back seat, and brought him to the LSU Large Animal Clinic. Matt Welborn, DVM (LSU 1987), professor of food animal medicine, examined the calf, administered a plasma transfusion, and prescribed a special bottle-feeding regimen. The calf is thriving and growing.
“If you’re in tune with your cows and keep a careful watch on them, they trust you and know you are trying to help them,” she said.
“Managing a herd of cows is harder than managing a group of people,” Dr. Mirza said.
When Scrantz was bushhogging one day, she saw a cow starting to give birth.
“As I watched that baby being born, tears came to my eyes. I watched the mama lick it, and the calf wobbled to get to its feet and stand up. How beautiful it is to see life being brought into the world. It’s a joy and a miracle,” said Scrantz.
She believes that her cows let her know when something is wrong. Like the time when Scrantz was on a tractor distributing hay and encountered a cow on the road mooing. She got off the tractor and followed the cow to a wood pile. Scrantz spotted a newly born calf that was stuck.
“I worked my way into the pile and eventually got it out. The mama licked the calf, walked ten steps, stopped, looked back, and shook her head at me. I know she was thanking me,” she said.
“The vets and their students at LSU know how much I love my animals,” Scrantz said.
The LSU Food Animal Health Management group is led by board-certified veterinary specialists. We also have technicians, caretakers, office personnel and veterinary students who provide comprehensive, advanced medical, surgical and reproductive care for individual ill and injured farm animals in the hospital setting as well as herd health and individual care for animals on the farm. This care is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, including nights, weekends and holidays.
The hospital is staffed by additional specialists in anesthesiology, cardiology, ophthalmology, radiology, dermatology, oncology, and clinical pathology. These specialists are always available for consults to our field service clinicians.
LSU Vet Med clinicians provide compassionate and leading-edge care for all farm animals while providing excellent and timely service. To contact the LSU Large Animal Clinic, call (225) 578-9500.
Sandra Sarr, MFA