Leg Joint problems

Help Support CattleToday:


Sep 2, 2019
Reaction score
Can anyone help me with how to help this calf? His front legs seem bent, and his back legs have the bottom joint bending/rolling over. The back "driver's side" leg seems to dangle. This is the 2nd calf from the same cow to have this problem. The other one died at about a year. It got to where he couldn't move around. The cow has had several healthy calves too. How can we help this little guy….if we even can?? Any help is appreciated. Is there a name for this? Most of the knuckling over I've researched is the front legs.


  • 668C577D-D307-4AC2-8FBF-506C3AF59D74.png
    5.7 MB · Views: 22
  • FullSizeRender.MOV
    7.7 MB
We haven't, and she is on the next trip. She's an excellent red angus mama….it's just that this is the second bull calf with this problem. It's a bummer for sure.

I have a few mention selenium deficiency, but he's so young. We have the selenium blocks out….maybe he needs a shot of BoSe?
How old is the calf? Usually knuckling is in the front. Only calf that comes to mind that I owned that was like that in the rear legs as well as the front was given to me by a neighbor. It's leg's straightened by 3 months of age. At 4 months old it dropped dead. Not encouraging for you or your calf. I'd definitely be shipping that cow.
Would start with Bo-Se and if selenium deficiency is the problem it should help. If you see the calf standing around swinging a back leg in little circles or back and forth that is the first sign of spastic paresis. They will be very post legged when standing and this calf looks awful straight on both front and back legs. Then they start laying around a lot and eventually can't get up then die. SP is genetic.
Well, I had to look that one up. Never heard of SP. It is definitely "a thing".
I would start with a shot of BoSe. If you don't have it on hand (you should), you will have to get it from your vet. Almost every state in US is Selenium deficient. Calves should get a shot as newborns. Calves can and will be born deficient and can have White Muscle Disease from lack of SE. A "selenium" block has about enough SE for 1 cow if she consumed the whole block in 1 day. I guess it's better than nothing, but it makes you feel better than your cattle. Best to give your herd loose mineral with SE in it.
A "selenium" block has about enough SE for 1 cow if she consumed the whole block in 1 day.
That's a little exaggerated...lol

Regardless of where you live, beef cattle require a minimum of 0.1 ppm of selenium in their daily diet [National Research Council (NRC) recommendation]. For a mature cow [1,400 pound (lb.)], that is an intake of about 1 milligram (mg) of selenium per day.

And this from a salt block tag: 1.16 ounces of this supplement will supply 3 milligrams of selenium. Provide an adequate supply of fresh water at all times.

And cattle can ingest too much selenium...
I will confess I have not read a label for a LONG time. So, maybe they are new and improved. LOL VERY hard for me to believe a herd gets their needs met licking a salt block with trace minerals.
It's why they call them "trace" minerals. Animals don't need a lot of them. Much like most people get by on the amount of calcium in a normal diet, we don't need pounds of calcium, and a very small amount of supplemental calcium will be enough to alleviate any kind of calcium deficiency. In most cases we get all the necessary requirements from a normal diet, only needing something if our body isn't processing properly.
Not all mineral supplements are created equal, not all pastures are created equal, and not all animals are created equal. The concentration of selenium provided within a block or lose feed is going to vary from 'recipe to recipe' used to create the supplement that is provided. The amount of/concentration of selenium found in the environment is going to be variable from location to location which affects how much additional selenium needs to be supplemented, which goes along with what @Jeanne - Simme Valley said with "Almost every state in US is Selenium deficient." The amount of selenium required for each animal likely is somewhat variable as well, but can be ignored for all intents and purposes as the requirement variability is negligible. What is variable between animals is the amount of block or free mineral each will consume. That is going to vary from individual animal to individual animal based on preference and taste, as well as the proximity of the block/free mineral to other resources that are used repetitively and frequently. Namely water and shade sources. Don't put water, shade and mineral all in the same place in the pasture. It leads to several things that aren't particularly desirable. Luxury mineral consumption, over use of the pasture a the point where the resources are concentrated, creation of a nutrient sink where the cows poop and pee all the time rather than distribute it evenly across the pasture, lowered feed intake as the cows are being 'lazy' and aren't going to where the grass is, and under utilization of the pasture away from the concentrated resources.

Bo-Se sounds like a good idea. My understanding is selenium deficiencies can affect muscles, the heart is a muscle.

It might not be the problem, but it's "an ounce of prevention". Might I suggest regular, repeated treatments until you sell the calf as an attempt to prevent the sudden demise of the calf due to a selenium deficiency that otherwise might occur and goes unnoticed until it's too late.

Hopefully that solves the problem. And yes, get rid of the cow.

Latest posts