Calf died. Sloshy stomach and bent front hooves

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Feb 21, 2013
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Northwest IA
We lost the calf. We checked the 4 year old cow an hour earlier and the bag was still intact and calf wasn't even close to birth canal. I checked her 30 minutes later and water bag had just broke. So 30 minutes after that, nothing and put her in chute. My husband reached in and one foot was caught. But he said the hooves didn't feel right. We pulled calf right away. Never did take a good breath. Just systematic gasps. Gave out a few bellars as we gave it Dex and tried getting it to breath with tickling nose and sitting it dog style. Once calf was dead, after I tried thrusting on her chest, we put her over the gate and A LOT of fluid drained out of her mouth. A LOT.

However, examining calf (after a lot of swearing), we notice the stomach was sloshy. Her front legs were unable to be straightened. Back legs were fine. She minimal ambilical cord.

She was a purebred angus bred to paradox (angus). Cow hasn't been tested. Of course, our son's cow and we lost the calf.

Don't say what I want to hear. Rather, if there was something we could have done different, what could it have been. Or, do you think it was a genetic defect and it would have died anyway?

When we reached in an hour earlier, she was very dilated. We could have tried pulling calf then, but calf wasn't in canal.

Like I said, don't say what I want to hear. Tell what I could have done so I can save the next calf, if there is something I could have done.

I know it is part of the business. But if I did something wrong, help me learn from it.
Don't know what else you could have done to save the calf except I will put them over a gate/fence to get them to drain any fluid. Usually when they are backwards, but when they aren't breathing real quick. I don't get too upset if I don't see any progress in that short of a period of time and if you didn't see the calf in the canal pulling might have been worse.

Sounds to me like there was something else going on with a "sloshy" stomach and the feet not being normal.
Did you try to get a calf to graft on her so that you can salvage her lactation and at least give your son some payback down the road?
Maybe check the minerals.?...a lot of places are E & selenium deficient and that can cause problems with the feet joints. We use a high E&selenium mineral mix here to combat our lacking it.
Hanging a calf over the gate/panel/stall divider does nothing to 'drain fluid' from the lungs; probably just makes it harder for the calf to breathe, due to weight of abdominal organs pressing on the diaphragm... if any significant fluid comes out, it's probably coming from the calf's abomasum(stomach).
They sure didn't teach us to hang calves in vet school, but somewhere along the line, I picked that up early in practice... but it's wrong. I wouldn't do it today, and sure won't recommend the practice to anyone.

Oh, and holding the calf by the back feet and swinging them around in a circle doesn't do anything helpful, either.

Any minimal amount of 'fluid' that may be present in a calf's respiratory tract is solely in the trachea; lungs are essentially 'collapsed' (not full of fluid!) until that calf takes a breath and inflates them.
I place the calf on their sternum similar to a cow laying in the pasture. Doing some compressions of the thoracic area from the top is the best chance of draining any fluid that may have been aspirated during the calf's first attempts to breath and allowing the least resistance to air going in. Putting them over a gate or hanging them would not be something I would do.
LuckyP is completely correct. You should NEVER hang a calf or swing it upside down. That is an old wife's tale and it causes more damage than good.
I think your problem was back at breeding time. Sounds like an Angus genetic defect.
And I strongly advise against taking in a calf from another farm. If you have a "spare" twin, that by all means, try to splice it on your momma. A healthy calf from another location can cause all your current & future calves to be sick. Never mix "bugs" from farm to farm.

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