Birth Defect

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Well-known member
Feb 16, 2004
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De Soto MO
Well, if having over 80% bulls as a seedstock producer weren't bad enough, we had a weird thing happen yesterday. A little history first: 10 year old cow, never had any issues with her calves. She was the first cow that I had gotten flushed. She was bred to a bull we have been using quite a bit lately, and all of his calves have been born easily and no issues. Cow was starting the normal signs of getting close to labor Sunday evening, but nowhere near active labor. Still same yesterday morning. I came home from work and saw she had a calf. I go to the paddock, and afterbirth was still fresh. Got to the calf and went to tag him and noticed something didn't seem quite right. He tried to stand, and was having a little difficulty, but I knew he was still young so not too worried. Once I got out of the gator, I noticed what was wrong.

I am not sure exactly what had happened to it. Vet said it was probably just a fluke deal. Still makes me worried about future calves. There is only one claw to the calf on that front left foot, and the bone is about half the size of the other front leg.
Not really looking for answers. Just figured I'd post a bad misfortune and maybe vent a little about it.
I thought having lots of bulls would be good as a seedstock producer (assuming the quality is there).

crappy deal that little guy was dealt, just bad luck I'd guess at this point.
Assuming this calf is out of registered stock, I strongly suggest you send photos and report the calf to the registry. Almost every defect out there was initially dismissed as "just a fluke". All animals carry some defective genes. I would bet that this is most likely a genetic issue. If it can be identified and a test developed, you can easily breed around it. The way recessives work, means statistically you might breed for years and never have a problem. Only when the bad genes become concentrated do the problems escalate. That usually happens when an outstanding animal is heavily used in a breed. Problems begin to pop up more and more often. You may think, " I am not inbreeding, so I should not have a problem". The trouble is that the responsible animal, may be many generations back in the pedigree. Most registered stock will trace back many times to certain foundation animals.
Nesikep":3noqzrq5 said:
I thought having lots of bulls would be good as a seedstock producer (assuming the quality is there).

crappy deal that little guy was dealt, just bad luck I'd guess at this point.

Having a lot of bulls is good if you have a continuous strong market for them, but we cull probably harder than most, and only keep one or 2 as a bull to sell. We want to make sure what we put out there for others is our best.

holm25":3noqzrq5 said:
Did you have him euthanized?

Very odd....

Not yet. He was actually up and moving around some yesterday. I know it is in the back of my mind that I will probably have to do it, but I figure as long as he is showing the will to live, I can give him the best care I can. We will probably send him to be ground at a young age because of this. I know how hard it will be to get around once he is bigger.
I bet he will be fine, if he can walk and nurse. He will taste just as good as a normal steer. No need to euthanize him if he can be of value in our food chain.
Is the other leg the same length at least? Even if it's weak, he may eventually get partial use of it.. I'm with you on the wait-and-see.. he could learn to manage, just wouldn't put him in a position where he has to do a lot of walking.
It's funny looking, doesn;t look like the traditioanl "mule foot" defect that I've seen. On those the leg was completely normal, it was the foot that was screwed up.
Thanks everyone. He had been up to nurse a few times. My feed guy wanted to see him, and could tell he had nursed too. He had been talking with his vet, and he wanted to see the calf. They took him over, and examined him. Said it was not a genetic deal (thank goodness), but it was best to euthanize him. His back legs were shutting down. I didn't want him to suffer, so that is what we did.
We've had 3 calves since he was born. 2 yesterday, but one was already dead. Young heifer was calving, must have gotten against the electric fence and spooked, got tangled a bit (fence was broke) and noticed her on the wrong side of the pasture. Calf was on the correct side, like she had her back end against the fence and basically had the calf under the fence, this was the dead one. Now, the cow has a pinched nerve. Got to freaking love this crap! Oh, of course of the 3 calves, 2 were bulls and one was a heifer. You could probably guess which one was the heifer....
When it rains, it pours! Sorry about your luck! I had to ship one of my favorites due to a fluke calving deal this week, lost one of my best heifers as a young calf back in the fall, had a nice looking heifer out of a great cow born with only one eye, had an unfortunate set of dead heifer twins and had to ship the cow due to a stifle injury...all in the last year. It's all part of this crazy thing we call raising cattle. :roll:

Hope the rest of your season goes well. Sounds like you deserve some good luck!

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