Weak calves

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mhill

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The last two calves born on our place have gotten off to excellent starts and within a week they were down. The first had scours real bad and had trouble walking. The hind legs just wouldn't work and it would fall over. That calf is fine now after some vet treatment for pneumonia and scours. Today I found another calf (week after birth) unable to get up and nurse. It had scours, but not bad. I got it up and the same symptoms with the rear legs. I tubed it some electrolytes and checked it an hour later and it was laying in the same spot. It could lift it's head, but still was wobbly in the back end. Any ideas what this could be?
 

larryshoat

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As dun said a shot of selenium wouldn't hurt a thing. Sounds like the major part of your problem with these two is scours, for what ever reason.
Talk to your vet to see what he/she thinks is causing your scour problem. Keep the same scour medications on hand that you saved the first calf with and if nothing else treat the new calves with it from day 4 thru 7 until you get this under control. The most serious kind of scours are the kind you never see, it is so watery that most of the time it misses the tail completely. Scouring calves need lots of fluids, the only way to win is to put it in the front end faster than it comes out the back end.

Larry
 

rockridgecattle

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couple of questions

1. What was your nutrition like? How was the feed quality. Poor quality pre calving = poor weak calves, poor colostrum quality. Funny with hay, it can look good, and be crap. With pasture, to much rain or to dry can stress pasture and stress the cows for nutrition = weak calves.

2. What is your vaccination program like?

3. When the vet tested and treated your animals, did you get a BVD test done. Scours, pnemonia, can present themselve as secondary infections with BVD being the primary infection. Weak calves at birth, and strong calves turning weak, can also be a symptom. One calf with a combination of these symptoms can be maybe explained, three, time to check the BVD.

4. As Dun said could be as simple as selenium deficient. Do you give your calves a shot at birth of vit. E/ selenium and Vit A&D?

5. Do you cows get free choice mineral, and is it approriate for the season?

6. What is the condition of your cows? How are the udders, do they have enough milk? Is the colstrum quaility good? Age of cows?

So, more than a couple of questions...

RR
 
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mhill

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Vet came out yesterday and said it was probably white muscle disease. He gave it a shot if selenium and two others to treat secondary illnesses. Tube fed calf every 4-5 hours alternating electrolytes/milk replacer. If it shows no sign of improvement in the next twenty four hours, I will put it down. The calf is performing all of it's body functions, scours have cleaned up, they at least form a pile, urinates, just can't stand and nurse.

To answer questions on previous post. Cows were fed good quality corn silage through winter and turned out to pasture as they calve. They have access to decent hay and free choice Wind & Rain mineral and salt. We did run out of mineral for about a week. Could that have been enough to cause this? Cows are in excellent shape and calves look great (except this one). I only calve out 25 head so any that I lose hurts me. I have a friend who calves 300 and he said it's common for them to lose calves. I take pride in the fact that I haven't lost any since I started 8 years ago after taking over the farm from grandparents who were into dairy. I am not a newbie to raising cattle and this just baffles the heck out of me as well as upsets me. As it goes in farming, I guess you have to take the good and the bad.
 

randiliana

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mhill":u81dyanl said:
Vet came out yesterday and said it was probably white muscle disease. He gave it a shot if selenium and two others to treat secondary illnesses. Tube fed calf every 4-5 hours alternating electrolytes/milk replacer. If it shows no sign of improvement in the next twenty four hours, I will put it down. The calf is performing all of it's body functions, scours have cleaned up, they at least form a pile, urinates, just can't stand and nurse.

To answer questions on previous post. Cows were fed good quality corn silage through winter and turned out to pasture as they calve. They have access to decent hay and free choice Wind & Rain mineral and salt. We did run out of mineral for about a week. Could that have been enough to cause this? Cows are in excellent shape and calves look great (except this one). I only calve out 25 head so any that I lose hurts me. I have a friend who calves 300 and he said it's common for them to lose calves. I take pride in the fact that I haven't lost any since I started 8 years ago after taking over the farm from grandparents who were into dairy. I am not a newbie to raising cattle and this just baffles the heck out of me as well as upsets me. As it goes in farming, I guess you have to take the good and the bad.


If the problem is selenium, once the shot is given, you should have an almost immediate response to it. I have seen calves that were on death's door recover almost completely within about 3 hours from when the shot of selenium was given.

I doubt that running out of mineral for a week would cause serious problems. It could be that the calf's mama just didn't eat the mineral, if it is free choice, that leaves the possibility that the odd cow doesn't eat the stuff. I would consider that to be unlikely, but possible

As RR suggested I would consider BVD (providing they don't recover with the selenium shot). It can cause many symptoms and problems. Weak calves and scoury (especially older) calves can definitely be a symptom. Might be an idea to have the weak calves tested for it. Vaccination is the only thing you can do for BVD, and you won't see a benefit til next year.

As for losing calves, we seem to lose around 2-3% of our calf crop, usually 2 or 3 in a year out of 100-150 head of cows. Stuff does happen, but, I wouldn't consider it terribly common. You do have to take the good with the bad.
 
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mhill

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Update. Calf is up on it's own and nursing by itself. I guess a bit of patience and extended time doctoring do go a long way. Made my otherwise dreary week quite bright.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Selenium deficiency affects large muscles - tongue, heart, lungs, leg muscles. If a calf has white muscle disease (Se deficiency), it opens the door for pneumonia & scours. Weak hind legs can be as simple as a fever.
Pa is Se deficient. All your calves should receive a BoSe shot & A&D at birth (along with iodine for the naval).
You didn't say if you have a health program vaccinating the cows.
 
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mhill

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I use Triangle 9 vaccine. I am pointing the finger in the direction of two dairy beef calves I bought a few weeks ago. They were not bought at a sale barn, but they both had issues soon after they were brought home.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Triangle 9 is a killed product and you get very little protection. If you use this product, it should be given twice a year (after initial booster 3-4 weeks apart? not sure of that exact products' booster recommended weeks).
But, White Muscle disease (SE deficient) is not "caught" from new cattle. If your calves are SE deficient (which I would venture to guess that they are in PA.), they are more suseptible to exposed diseases - like having new cattle come to the farm during calving.
 

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