Calf with swollen joints

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Unregistered-1427815803, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. Hi,

    We are wondering if anyone can help or share their experience with this. We purchased three 2 day old calves 3 weeks ago from a dairy. All of the calves came down with scours but have since recovered. One of them has never seemed to fully recover and although his stools are firmer, he is not gaining as well as the others and seems weaker. The calves are all three weeks old now and this weaker one has now developed swelling in all four knee joints. It got REALLY bad for a couple of days and now one has gone back to normal but the other three are still pretty swollen. The calf eats very well but seems to have trouble walking (stiff and painful) around. We gave him penicillin two days ago (maybe that is why one knee is better) but the shot also caused a lump in the back of his neck (the injection site) to swell up enormously. That is somewhat improved today but the poor fellow can hardly walk and we don't know if he is going to make it or not. We will probably give him more antibiotics today... maybe in the rump this time since he seemed to have a reaction to the shot in the neck. I assume that this is all something to do with septicemia and maybe he developed navel ill from the dairy he came from. The conditions were not all that clean and although they hung pails for the calves to drink if they could figure it out, I doubt that they took to the time to make sure that he got colostrum at all. Can anyone suggest ideas or share their experiences with this. Thank you all SO much for your time and help... we are so worried.
  2. shelbynteg

    shelbynteg Well-Known Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    Beasley, Tx
    First thing that comes to my mind is called 'joint ill' in horses, may have a more scientific name, but I don't know it. I've also seen it affect an occasional goat. Anyway, it is a generalized infection that gains access thru an improperly iodine-d navel, and seems to settle in the joints. It does need antibiotic treatment, and I don't remember ever using penicillan on it. The last time we had it, we treated the goat with Excenel (Naxcel equivilent). My recommendation is call your vet. Good Luck.

  3. lexi green

    lexi green Member

    May 29, 2002
    hello,If you have some mullen leaves handy, pick some that are in tack and put in warm water to make plyable, warp them around the joints and cover with a elastic bandage so to keep in place. leave on knees and replace in 3 days again. do this till swelling is gone. took only 3 days for mine to go down. hope it works for you.
  4. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    My guess would also be navel ill, but...does he have a fever? If so, is he dehydrated?

    The lump is caused by not injecting quite right, but it is no big deal. Injections should be given on the side of the neck, not on the back of it. They should be given sub-cutaneously(sp?), though IM isn't a huge deal either (it's not going to kill him). Injections in the rump can lead to nasty spots in the meat later on and those would be IM shots.

    Penicillian has to be given over a course of days in order to work. One shot won't do it, though it can help. I rarely use Pen, but when I do, they get a shot a day for at least 3 days. There are much better drugs, such as LA200. That is a long-acting antibiotic and one shot (maybe a second a few days later) will usually do the trick. You can get LA200 at a feed store.

    If you stick with Pen, then alternate the sides of his neck that you shoot. Also don't shoot him again in exactly the same spot. Pinch up a bit of skin, put the needle in the tent.

    If that doesn't do it, call a vet. Call a vet's good to have a working relationship with a vet! They can also give you better drugs to use.

    Banamine is also very useful to get him up, feeling better and eating better. It's like cow aspirin, but you have to get it from the vet. If he's dehydrated, give him some electrolytes to get his fluids up again.

  5. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

    Dec 7, 2002
    Dysfunction Junction
    The only cases of joint ill that I've read about (in horses) did not have good outcomes. Usually arthritis developed prematurely in the affected joints and the animal was permanently crippled.

    Since you have little invested in this calf at this point, I would consider putting him down. Would probably save you a considerable expense, and the little guy a (short) lifetime of misery. :(

    If you contact the dairy you got him from and let them know what happened, they might give you a break on the purchase of another calf.

    (Although I would not knowingly buy from a place that couldn't assure me their calves had at least received colostrum!)
  6. I agree with willow girl. We've had this happen with calves and goats a few times over the years. It's not worth the expense and heartache to treat them, trust me. Very few little ones will survive the illness, those who do never thrive. We put them down after we're absolutely sure navel ill is the problem.
  7. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Sorry, that was me above. I wasn't logged in.