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talltimber

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Found my 3.5 yo bull Thursday and he is having some trouble in the back end. I thought at first he was stifled in his right leg, but it became evident that there was more to it. He can get up, but when he does, sometimes both back legs get out behind him, or the feet are buckled under, and struggles to get them up under him. When he does finally get things together he can stand for a good bit of time. Eats good, drinks good, hobbles/drags around to pick.

Called vet and explained to him:
On the same pasture, for a long period, of fescue/clover with hi-mag mineral available, so doubtful grass tetany
Possible cow in heat with him at the time, but now moved
I did not get ahold of Doc until Friday morning, so a couple days had went by, so he didn't think it was Anaplasmosis
We had given him aspirin the evening of Thursday and Friday morning early, for lack of a better idea until we talked to Doc

Doc explained that, although usually seen in older bulls, it's not uncommon for a tumor to put pressure on the spinal column, effectively paralyzing them.
He also said that, with his age, he would likely suspect a traumatic injury. He prescribed Dexamethasone, my first experience using it, three days straight then every other day.
I talked with Dad last night about him and he asked if he was bug eyed, which I had thought he was a little a couple times. Not like popping out the socket, but more like, I figured, he was a little scared and unsure about what was going on. Dad said he and my Grandpa had 2 or 3 bulls over the years that had that happen. One they got loaded and to the local locker and got a call back later that he was no good for them and if they could do anything with him.

Have any of you all had some experiences similar to this and what was the outcome? Have you heard of this tumor thing being that common and do you cull older bulls because of it, trying to avoid this?
 

Lucky_P

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Bovine Leukosis Virus is widely distributed; see the most recent (1997) NAHMS bulletin for distribution and prevalence numbers.

I've told this before, but will offer it up again.
I was losing at least one cow per year to lymphosarcoma in the late 90s/early 2000s. My wife (the GOOD veterinarian, and now farm manager) said, 'Look, we've gotta figure out what's going on here." So...in 2007 we bled the entire herd and tested for BLV. 40 of 44 cows were positive; 1 of 4 yearling heifers was positive; 1 of 10 weanling heifers was positive. I had a 90% infection rate in the mature cow herd... and I'm pretty certain that I'm largely responsible for spreading it that completely - by reusing needles between animals. It's a retrovirus, like HIV, so can be transmitted from animal to animal by contaminated needles. You know how much care the human health folks take to prevent needle sticks... think about doing the same with cattle.

Since the day those results came back... no female that's been born on this place has received an injection with a needle that's been in another animal (I will reuse needles on steers and the few remaining known infected cows). Yep. That's right. Most needles get used ONCE... No in-and-out of bottles of vaccine/medicine with a needle that's been in an animal.
Disposable needles are cheap. Yes, it's a PITA to change 'em out... but it's what you need to do to help prevent the further spread of this virus - and other diseases, like anaplasmosis.

Sat in on a webinar on anaplasmosis last week... one of the presenters, from Florida, had surveyed beef producers to see how frequently they changed out needles... average was.... after 19 uses. I believe it! That used to be me! I knew better!
Small-scale study done at KSU... they took an anaplasmosis-infected cow, with 3% infected red blood cells, stuck a needle in her - didn't pull a blood sample - just stuck it in her, then stuck an uninfected cow. Repeated 10 times... 6 of 10 cows that received the 'second' stick became infected. The potential is there for BLV transfer to be just as easy.
 

TCRanch

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Lucky, I very much remember your post last year when our girl was diagnosed, subsequently put down, and took it to heart. Our vet did not do a blood test but when he palped her he could barely feel her calf, the rest was tumor. She had also suddenly become lame in the right rear leg and he pointed out to me the swollen lymph nodes, visible to the eye - if you know what to look for. None of our other girls have shown any symptoms & as of yet we have not had the herd blood tested BUT I have switched to disposable needles & syringes for every single cow/calf/bull when we're working (the repeater syringe is now used only when doctoring a single cow). We don't brand, dehorn (Angus/Angus-cross), the vet is the only one that tattoos when he BANGS & he changes gloves for every heifer. Maybe our girl was a fluke/random rare case of transmittal via biting insects? We'll never know but we've definitely changed our procedures.

Talltimber, wishing you the best!
 
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talltimber

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Thank you guys for your input.

What should I be trying to do with him now. Have him tested? Test them all, and sell them, put them down? Let em ride, change practices, and hope for the best? Should I expect more of the same incident, or is it a sometimes it gets them, sometimes it don't kind of thing.

He's still up and down, with effort. We're packing feed/water to him. It's getting hotter and more humid today. He was getting hot. I was lucky my son is running the bush hog for me and he checked him, poured some water on him. We rigged him some shade for tomorrow. If this is a tumor, then idk what a vet can do? If it's a stinger, other than some meds, what can a vet do? I have no problems about getting a vet to come out, just thinking out loud.

You know, after looking again, I don't think he has the bugging eye symptom. I realize that is only one symptom possible, but I don't think he has that going on.
 

TCRanch

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I would have the vet out for a thorough exam, only he can determine what's really going on. It could be nothing more than a pinched nerve (been there as well, near the sacral vertebrae; Dex helps a lot). Can he move his tail? And have you taken his temp?
 

Lucky_P

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I'd have him tested. 3.5 yrs is a bit younger than we usually see cattle with terminal lymphosarcoma. Most are 5+... but he's not far off from that. This bull may have a problem other than BLV-induced lymphosarcoma. From what you've described... possibilities to consider, IMO, are injury, tumor, spinal abscess... in no particular order.

Of the cattle infected with BLV, only 5-10% will go on to develop lymphosarcoma or leukemia during their lifetime. Most average producers are unlikely to have more than a case or two per year... if that frequently.
Test and cull?... I'd have had virtually no herd left. I've not had the guts to re-bleed and test now... cow numbers here are double what they were in 2006-7... I've had a couple of cows that were born after the change in needle/ob sleeve management that developed lymphosarcoma at about 5 years of age... both out of known BLV-positive cows... so they may have been infected in utero, by way of leukocytes in milk, or just in normal grooming/interaction with dam and other cattle in the herd.

At present, there's no discrimination against BLV-positive cattle, for the most part. A few folks are beginning to pay attention, but I'd say it'd be difficult to source known test-negative cattle in large numbers without doing a lot of testing and cherry-picking.
No conclusive proof that BLV poses any health issues for humans, but there have been some recent findings that may call that into question.
 
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talltimber

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No, I have not noticed any tail movement, but we have been keeping him sprayed pretty good. I just haven't noticed. No on the temp either.
I did talk with the original vet consulted again today. He said basically find a way to get him on the trailer. He's fairly confident that he's probably got a tumor. Talked with another vet today, and he's thinking a pinched nerve due to the immediate lameness onset.
Thanks again for the help with it.
 

TCRanch

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If it is a pinched nerve & you haven't noticed whether he can move his tail, just take a look at it because it will be covered in poo (mainly caked underneath). I actually cleaned my girl's hind end every day because it attracted so many flies & she couldn't swish 'em away with her tail. Our vet estimated a good 6 months for possible full recovery but we ended up selling her; didn't want to risk re-injury getting bred or potential problems calving.

Hope you're able to load him!
 
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talltimber

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Tail is operable. Temp is 102.7.
He is moving more than I thought. I saw an area out about twenty feet from the canopy that he had picked. It's raining some here and these were fresh tracks. The last shower big enough to wash them out/fill them was right after I fed/checked him this morning.
I would try to load him if the pasture was on fire, but I don't think I'll stress him that much otherwise. He seems comfortable enough standing, and is apparently moving more than I thought. Cautiously optimistic. Once hot weather hits again, it may be a different ball game, although he's figured out quick what that pop up canopy is.
 
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talltimber

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Well, it didn't turn out too good. We got a bunch of rain, he didn't have good enough footing to get up, and fought it until he was wore out and bawling. We've got six plus inches in 24 hrs or so, plus other little showers. Take a long time to dry out now. We reached the point of hope/welfare. I hate this part of it.
 

SoILcattle

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Had the same situation 1 year ago with my uncle/Grandpa's bull, he was having issues getting around and after a 2 week period of getting worse ( with vet attention and steroids) he was unable to get up. Unfortunately the situation didn't end well and I was the one that had to handle it. A part of raising animals but always a sobering situation.
 

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