Not another infected navel question!!

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Apr 16, 2008
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I've seen plenty of infected navels but this one is a tough one. The big fat shiny bull calf is four weeks old. He was a very hard pull out of a little heifer who was "shocked" for a day or two and didn't take him. He had his navel iodined immediately at birth and received colostrum from the bailed-up heifer but after about four hours when it was obvious she had no interest in him. I was disappointed to find his navel cord swollen (about an inch across) and hard a few days later.
He had the full course of what I have, oxytet, triprim, dex etc. The cord has never gone down and the bright pink end now protrudes and still has some of the black shrivelled exposed cord attached. Pus drips constantly from the opening around the cord, lots of it. There's no massive swelling, the dripping pus is the only sign. We tipped him over and gave it another good soaking in iodine and gave him another oxytet. Took a photo but can't get it uploaded yet. The calf is very well, full of bad manners, guzzling milk replacer, bucking and kicking. What should I do next?
On those I use penicillin and oral amoxicillin. You're gonna have to treat until he's cleared up. It seems that navel infections have been bad this year.

I would squirt peroxide(10-not to strong) into any little gap around the cord that you can find and get as much "gunk" out.Dry area and apply iodine again.I would continue peroxide for 3 to 4 days,should be clearing by then.
Its not perhaps a hernia?
I have considered the possibility of hernia but am pretty sure it is not. I do have peroxide and also have some antibiotic powder I could squirt up in there, now that I think of it. He's had the last of my oxytet so will give him penicillin in another couple of days. I won't be able to get any oral amoxcillin. Someone suggested lancing the protruding cord - but that would only bleed? He's a beautiful calf and I need to get it cleared up before the flies get to it. He has no joint problems at present.
I would continue with the pen, if that's all you can get. Use 5 to 10ml per hundred, if you have some dex give 2ml per hundred for a couple of days. You're gonna have to treat until this is cleared up.

I disagree on the meds, sorry. I would go with nuflor. It is stronger, gets into the deep tissue better. Navel is hard to treat and after trying and not succedeing, you need something with alot of kick. I would do IM instead of SQ and keep at it. As well daily injections of a good anti inflam med. And go with tipping the calf, using gloved hands drain the puss and re idodine again. Keep this up for 7-10 days at least, maybe 14 depending on progress. If you think it is cleared up give it a last shot of nuflor SQ.
Many thanks for the replies. I wonder what our Aust equivalent of Nuflor would be? I'm sure it has been said on here somewhere so I'll try and search. Being in a remote location, I'm very limited with what I can get hold of. Last night I tipped him over and gave him a dex IM, soaked the navel with iodine and then puffed some antibiotic powder up around the cord. I thought it was looking better. However.....this morning there was pus freely running out of it. The cord has not gone down and is very hard. This afternoon I'll give him a LA penicillin, the only antibiotic I have at present. I give all injections IM. He continues to be very well, greedy and active (he's very slick-coated and an increasing challenge to tip over!) but I know I need to get it fixed fast or he won't stay that way.
You could inject antibiotic around the base of the navel instead of IM in the neck.

Pus is not okay, but the cord being hard and still present is not that unusual even at a month of age.

Nuflor is florenfenicol (think I spelled that right), check your Australian meds and see if you have one under that name. It's similar to chlorenfenicol which is banned for livestock use in the U.S. but may or may not be in Australia. If you have gentimycin over there it is a good antibiotic and I have seen that used locally around the navel, but you do need to be aware that gent carries an 18-24 month withdrawal and may not be worth the added time to slaughter.
It seems like you have a pretty good idea of what you are doing.The reason I suggested peroxide was that most harmful bacteria are considered anaerobic,meaning that they will not survive in a highly oxygenated area or in the presense of hydrogen oxide(peroxide).The peroxide will also assist in 'loosening' up pus and will get in deeper than other meds.Salt water,believe it or not,can also be very effective.Good luck.
The calf is now very sick......I was so surprised and disappointed this morning to find him lying down, eyes glassy like he's in pain, grinding his teeth and uninterested in his milk. Up until this morning he's been jumping out of his skin.
The cord has gone down a lot, now its only about as thick as my finger, and there's nothing to see, no other swelling. However, when I massage the area he produces a few dribbles of urine which is not clear, looks like it's full of pus. Could he somehow be widdling through his cord area? Does this ever happen? It's very hard to tell where the urine is coming from.
Chloramphenicol is called Chloromycetin it's predominatly an eye ointment . In my nursing we do apply it to wounds after they have been stitched up. It seems to lessen the scarring as well as being an antibiotic. Seems like your calf might have a urethral fissure which means that its urethra ( the tube leading from the bladder to the outside) has a connection through to its navel area. Humans occasionally have this problem, but not out the navel area but usually the bowel area. Give him a good boost with 2 or 3 eggs in each feed might pick him up. When we have flat calves a boost of eggs and a bit of sugar will often do the trick. If you want some eggs just come this way about 1,000 ks. We've been getting upwards of 3 dozen a day from our 60 odd chooks. Best of luck. You have had some great suggestions from persons on this board.
Have just been over there again and yes, he is definitely widdling out both places at once, combined with pus, all very smelly. This is the source of the whole problem I feel.
He's still feeling poorly, no sign of scours or anything digestive, will see what happens in the next couple of days
and make a decision on him. A shame as he's a big growthy calf, worth rearing. Thanks for the help everyone.
We do feed eggs often Colin, great for perished or crook calves, they never seem to upset their stomachs. Thanks also for the info re chloromycetin!
The calf is now doing well, I'm delighted to say! He had more day of being in pain, grunting, grinding his teeth, ignoring his milk etc. Had he been kicking or lying on his side, I would have shot him. Now he's back to normal, pushing and shoving, galloping about in the cool of the evening. The pus has gone at last. Slowly the widdling out of the navel has decreased down to just a few drips now - it's all coming out of the right place. The protruding end of the cord has shrivelled up. It's still a bit smelly and I think I need to keep the pen and dex up a couple more times. A very small number of times over the years, when we've tipped a bull calf to cut and brand, we've seen this smelly navel/widdle arrangement (my husband reminded me!) In an open range situation, we've just had to cut them and cross our fingers - haven't actually known any of them to have died but can't be sure. I appreciate the help!

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