Blackleg Questions

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frank boucher

Well-known member
Mar 18, 2014
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Neighbor stopped here while ago.He found a 2 week old calf that was healthy yesterday,dead today.No signs of trauma or anything odd.Another calf very lethargic,he took it to house,warmed it up,gave electrolites,calf a little better at dark,and pooped,said stool was white as chalk and consistency of peanut butter.Could that be blackleg?I've never experienced one with blackleg that I know of.Can they get blackleg at that young age?Always heard usually older?No history of blackleg in this pasture or teatnus that he's aware of in last 10 years.
He's going to call vet in morning and can take calf in if need be?Just wondering if anybody has any ideas?
Both calves are from cows he purchased in Dec,other pairs in pasture are his home raised cattle,they are ok for now.Cows in good condition,on quality hay,good mineral program and protein tubs with BioMoss.
Southwest Mo,fescue pasture,cool and wet weather.
He was going to call guy he bought cows from to see if they were vaccinated for blackleg when they were raised?That's what I was wondering and all I could think of,was the purchased cows not vaccinated and therefore were'nt passing immunity through clostrum to calves,where his home raised cows were vaccinated and boostered as yearling heifers.
He's had lots of experience with scours and respitory problems,he don't think it's anything he's ever had before.
I don't know if they would get blackleg that young....but all our cows are vaccinated for blackleg and they should pass the antibodies down to the calves and they should have some resistance until 6-12 weeks according to our vet. But, bringing in cattle without having any idea of if they had any vaccines would make me do a lepto and a blackleg as soon as they get there. We use killed virus vaccines due to the possibility of pregnancies and I am assuming that he brought these as breds in Dec. I don't want to overwhelm a cows system coming into a new place. Any other vaccines can wait a bit, but these two are pretty much standard for us.
There could be other "bugs" there that his own cattle are immune to and these are not.

We did have an outbreak of e-coli scours; he called it wet weather scours; years ago, with some of our own calves. Wet rainy weather, just as spring was trying to get going. Found one dead, 3 more very lethargic, one down. Got them to the barn with their mommas, called the vet and he put them on antibiotics. I cannot remember what, it was years ago. But, after a couple of days, with 1 or 2 getting IV's the first day and then electrolytes and mommas milk when they could get up and nurse, we managed to save them. They had dehydrated overnight it seemed. I remember the vet saying that the wet rainy weather, the grass trying to grow and the temps getting very warm then chilling down, were a recipe for e-coli outbreaks, as well as clostridium, and that blackleg vaccination was very important. As soon as they got up and going they got a vaccination, we ran all the cows through the chute and all the healthy calves and gave every one a vaccination shot. It seemed to stop the problem and since then we just do it. Cheap to do and if you save one calf, then it's paid for. Cows were trying to graze the little green shoots that were trying to grow and we had alot of clover in that field too.... I can't remember if there is a vaccine for e-coli... I do know that there is a problem with crypto on some dairies, and one lost several calves to that. Also, the rotavirus, and the coronavirus are prevalant on some dairies and I do believer that there are vaccines for them now.
Unless your in a bad blackleg area, I doubt it. It is possible, but doubtful. Best he take the sick calf and dead calf in - do a postmortem on dead calf. Probably something basic like rota/corona or pneumonia.
Neighbor talked with vet on phone this morning,vet is very familiar with his cows and management.99.9% not blackleg,dead calf just a fluke,kicked or mashed around bale ring,then walked over to loafing area where he found him laying,did'nt think any need to bring him in and post him.I did.nt know it,but he had already skinned him and robbed a twin off old cow and trasnplanted twin onto this dead calfs mama.Other sick calf is scours,he did'nt understand what kind it was thats not runny and loose behind,but he's giving probotics,antibiotics,said may need mineral oil if does'nt loosen up some soon,neighbor understood some kind of a bug affected stomach like constipation in this case.Calf is better and sucking,should loosen up on his own,but the mineral oil if does'nt.No more calves sick in pasture,all look good today.
Sorry I don't have anything more definite to report back.I guess sometimes you're just going to lose one to unknown cause.
Thanks for the responses.