Swollen ears on calf

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Sep 2, 2004
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I buy all my calves from one dairy farmer. He has excellent calves and they are given colostrum right away and the navel is dipped. I have very few problems with these calves. Today I picked up a calf and it had blood behind it's ears. When I got it home I sprayed it with wound dressing to stop the flies. I noticed that the ears were swelling. With-in a few hours the ears were swollen to about an inch thick. The ears look as though they were pulled away from the head. When I called the farmer he told me that he had a heifer like that about a week ago and he put her on antibiotics and the swelling went down in a couple of days. I asked him if possibly one of his hired men had pulled the calf by it's ears. He defended the hired men and said they wouldn't do anything like that. For two calves in a week to have this problem that I have never seen before makes me suspicious. The head is also swollen around the ears. The calf is in pain and is grinding his teeth. The swelling has made it hard for him to suck. Do any of you have any other explanation for swollen ears on calves?
ollie":2vsnbm4b said:
Head snare ?

This was a new born that had been moved from the calving pen to a holding pen. I picked it up out of the holding pen and there is nothing around the head. I at first thought maybe it got it's head stuck in the stockade panel and injured it pulling it out, until I talked to the farmer and he told me about the heifer. He said she was no where near a stockade panel. The heifers are moved to his heifer area right away, unlike the steers that I buy. I've had them get stuck in stockade panels that caused them to stand all night until I got the bolt cutters out, but I've never had ear injuries from it.
fit2btied":19752lb9 said:
Was it pulled or born unassisted?

It isn't extremely big so I doubt that it was pulled. I can't say for sure but even if it was, no one pulls a calf by the ears when assisiting with birth. I have suspicions that someone pulled it to the holding area by the ears. This is quit a ways from the calving pen so if that was the case, I could see how it put trauma on the calf's head. It ate much better this morning, but the ears are still swollen. I'm really unset about it. I can't believe that anyone would treat a new baby, no matter what it is, like this. I always put a collar on them right away before I even try to move them to my truck for loading. I have something to hang onto if they need a pull. I've never heard of any disease that would cause these symptoms, until I hear of any, I'll always suspect that the calf was mistreated. If anyone on this board can enlighten me on a disease that could cause this, I'd really appreciate your input. I've been buying calves from this source for alot of years and this is the first time anything like this has happened, but he has several hired men, and when no one is watching, you never know what they might or could do.
Sorry! I wasn't trying to imply that it was pulled by the ears. We helped a neighbor pull a big-headed calf whose muzzle kept turning downward and he wrapped a chain harness around its neck and up to the back of its head, crossed over the top between its eyes, and then around the muzzle and under the chin. That litte guy had quite a bit of swelling for several days, but it wasn't isolated to just the ears.

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