premature calves

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Anonymous

Hi Folks, Need some advise please. Small farm, we have goats and cattle
bout a month ago few of the goats started aborting, they are to start kidding end of March first of April, today, one of the cows had a premature calf, it's about a month early. Last summer we had an extremely wet season. Could it possibly be something in the hay?
Neighbor next door has a few sheep, they have lost a few due to waterbag busting and cervix not opening for birth. He bought his hay from an individual about 20 miles east of here. We live in West Virginia, approx. 2 hours from DC. Spoke with local vet, said there were some other farmers in county that are having problems with premature calves.
This is quite a mystery to us....would appreciate any feedback...Thanks!
 

Campground Cattle

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Do ya'll have a lot of coyotes/ dogs running your pastures in your area. I know of some ranchers that had this problem a few years back. There something in dog feces that can cause cows to abort in the thrid trimester. Can't remember what it was called.
 

Oldtimer

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Suz- You may want to have your hay tested. A neighbor and I had a wreck a few years ago with abortions and premature births. Turned out that it was ergot on the blue joint grass hay we were feeding. That hay was put up during a wet summer. It affected the heifers worse than the old cows. Take a sample to your county extension agent. He should know what to look for.
If that is what it is it can cause circulation problems in smaller livestock and ears, tails and limbs to fall off.
 

CattleAnnie

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Sounds suspicously like ergot. Would definately take the time to get the feed analysis done. It's one of the reasons I try to avoid feeding hay with mold on it to pregnant cows.
Best of luck to you.
 

Campground Cattle

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suz":32ml2liy said:
Hi Folks, Need some advise please. Small farm, we have goats and cattle
bout a month ago few of the goats started aborting, they are to start kidding end of March first of April, today, one of the cows had a premature calf, it's about a month early. Last summer we had an extremely wet season. Could it possibly be something in the hay?
Neighbor next door has a few sheep, they have lost a few due to waterbag busting and cervix not opening for birth. He bought his hay from an individual about 20 miles east of here. We live in West Virginia, approx. 2 hours from DC. Spoke with local vet, said there were some other farmers in county that are having problems with premature calves.
This is quite a mystery to us....would appreciate any feedback...Thanks!
Here are some links talking about neosporia which causes abortions in livestock.


Dogs Found To Be a Carrier Of a Serious Cattle Disease - ... Dog definitive host Oocysts passed in dog feces contaminate cattle ration Ingested by cow Cross placental transmission infects fetus Abortion Infected carcass ...
http://www.reeusda.gov/nri/pubs/highlig ... /Apr00.pdf
type_Document_Title_here - ... It now becomes even more important to prevent contamination of cattle feed with dog feces. Abortions induced by Neospora have been observed in cattle, horses ...
http://extension.usu.edu/files/agpubs/neospora.htm
 

nrs farm

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I read on another forum that people in Virginia were having trouble with premature births in the livestock as well. They were blaming it on the wet weather and the hay there as well. From what I read, in the goats the placenta was detaching about 1-2 weeks early and then the goats were delevering dead babies around their due dates. So I recommend you have the hay checked as well.
 

Campground Cattle

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A recently published article (Intnl J Parasitology 28:1473-1478, 1998) identified the dog as the definitive host of Neospora caninum. Neospora was first identified in 1988, but has become recognized as a major cause of bovine abortion in several areas. It occurs across the United States and in many other countries. One set of 50 samples from a Utah dairy showed 50% of them to be seropositive. Neospora is a protozoan parasite that closely resembles toxoplasmosis. Dogs have previously been suspected of being involved in the pathogenesis, but their role had not been proven until this recent research. It now becomes even more important to prevent contamination of cattle feed with dog feces.

Abortions induced by Neospora have been observed in cattle, horses and goats. Some cases of neurologic and neuromuscular disease have been observed in neonatal calves, dogs, sheep, foals, and deer, but this is not a usual clinical sign in adult animals. The fetal infections may result in fetal death, mid-gestation abortion, or occasionally in the birth of calves with congenital brain disease.

The majority of fetal infections result in the birth of healthy calves with latent infections that are maintained and eventually passed on, when these become dams, to their fetus, which continues the cycle. This vertical transmission (transplacental) can continue for several generations without the parasite passing through the definitive host (dog). Apparently, almost every infected dam will pass Neospora to its calf. Stress and lowered resistance seem to be the factors which determine whether abortion will occur or a carrier fetuses will be born. The incidence of BVD infection in the herd seems to be especially correlated with initiation of abortion problems, but its exact role has not been determined. Probably anything that weakens the cow’s resistance might predispose to an abortion. There is no evidence of horizontal spread of Neospora directly from one cow to another in the herd.

In the dog, ingestion of Neospora infected tissue (probably placenta or aborted fetus) results in an intestinal infection (mild or subclinical) with subsequent shedding of oocysts in the feces. The contamination of this onto feed can initiate the infective cycle in cattle. It may also be possible for the oocytes to be passively spread by birds over long distances. In the intermediate host the parasite would become systemic for a time (and could cause abortion during that time) but then would localize and become dormant. When these latently infected cows become pregnant, their fetuses become infected virtually every time. The feeding of oocyst infected feed to a group of pregnant cattle could result in an explosive abortion storm, much like lepto, BVD, or IBR.

Abortion occurs typically in mid-gestation, but may occur anytime after the second month. It may take 2-4 weeks for the fetus to die after infection and another 2-4 weeks before it is aborted from the dam. This makes positive diagnosis more difficult. Some cows abort repeatedly in subsequent pregnancies; others do not.

Serological tests for Neospora determine only whether the animal has antibodies. But these antibodies develop rapidly and to a high level, so if an aborting dam is negative it is very doubtful that Neospora was the cause. A fetus with typical lesions, positive immunohistochemical tests and no evidence of BVD, IBR, or lepto could be considered a Neospora abortion. Fetal brain is the most important tissue for diagnosis.

There is still much to learn about prevention but the following are essential:

* Protect feed and water sources from contamination with dog feces.
* Prevent dogs from ingesting aborted fetuses or placentas.
(Probably applies to other canids as well.)
* Promptly remove and dispose of aborted fetuses and placentas.
* Control rodents.

It is also good to try to prevent birds from defecating in the feed. Serological testing and culling of positive animals may be feasible in some herds as a means for eradication of Neospora


Not saying you have a problem with nespora but I would get the vet to check as well as the hay. Rancher a couple of miles from me almost was wiped out by nespora a few years ago. It seems to be worse in cold damp weather, might be the cattles resistance is weaker. Rancher up the road traced it back to coyotes and rodents that were feeding out of his bunk feeders.
 

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