Hardware Disease

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Abouttime, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. Abouttime

    Abouttime Well-Known Member

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    How prevalent is it? If a cow has access to a barn, should a magnet always be given if you have no clue if they have one? For new calves, when should they be given one? Is coughing the first sympton?
     
  2. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    A lot depends on environment cows are subjected to. Hardware disease often comes as a result of the feeding of chopped forages, as metal gets cut into small thin pieces a cow cannot sort from the feed. It can, however, be the result of a cow ingesting a piece of metal - fence staples, bits of old fence wire, roofing nails, etc. while grazing if cow's environment has these hazards present. The disease often shows up in a year following tornadoes or high straight line wind events which scatter roofing nails, and other bits of tin and metal objects over the land.
    Usually symptom is a cow will get infected inside due to a puncture of stomach , show reduced performance, lose condition, may run a fever, and may lead to death as a result of complications.
    Most cow magnets are too large for a calf. I don't know what would be the minimum size animal for placing a magnet. On many dairy farms it is sop to put magnet in springing heifers or purchased cows just prior to or as they enter the milking string.
    If an animal was coughing, I would first explore all other possible cause for cough before thinking it was hardware disease.
    Relative to the value of a cow, Magnets are low priced prevention strategy.
     

  3. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    This is so weird. I have a very long commute right now and was just thinking (while staring at the windshield) about magnets. I wondered if anyone still did that. My grandfather always did for all of his milk cows.

    I'm too much of a rookie when it comes to anything but calves grown for beef.
    So, it's still done?
     
  4. Abouttime

    Abouttime Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies-from the items my pigs dig up in the pastures, there is a lot of ingestible items on this property! According to a dairy forum I frequent, feeding magnets is still a common practice.
     
  5. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Kind of guessing here, but I'd say hold off on the magnets until a calf is five months old. The rumen is supposed to be fully functional by then and the magnet would probably stay in place. At one time I gave them to all heifers freshening, but now only to a cow who is "acting funny" that way, like the coughing.

    Jennifer
     
  6. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    You should check before putting a magnet into an animal you didn't raise because there might be one there. Just use a compass to check. I've only ever lost one cow to hardware but figure the cost of a magnet is so nominal that I like to use them.
     
  7. 65284

    65284 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My brother in law says magnets probably make the owner feel better than the cow. He really doesn't think much of their use.
     
  8. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    I'd like an opinion on this from someone with a lot of experience. Almost all land that has been occupied by trashy people has metal scattered over it. Everything from aluminum pop tops to garbage dumps and stolen tools hidden in the grass. The worse stuff around here is barbed wire that has been pushed into piles and rusted into bits. These bits wash out of the dirt piles and lie there in the grass until a cow comes along and picks one up. Thank goodness that so far we've not been hit by a tornado.

    I hate such losses; the poor beasts die slowly and there is no cure once the metal has punctured the gut. Only thing to do is rush them to the sale before they get weak and miserable. If you cannot do that a bullet is the next best thing.
    Ox
     
  9. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You get metal in hay, too. My last batch of hay had rusty metal, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, bread wrappers and all kinds of other stuff.

    Genebo
    Paradise Farm
     
  10. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    unfortunately a magnet will not help in the case of our trashy neighbors and their walmart sacks ect(we live on a windy hill, and have to patrol for trash constantly)
     
  11. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is not quite true. I've been around cattle my whole life, and the only time I've ever seen a magnet used is after the cow already has hardware disease. As long as the object is removed from the injury they will heal just fine.
     
  12. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Rushing them to the sale and collecting slaughter salvage value is probably the best option. Most vets will recommend that you put a magnet in on the theory that the magnet will latch on to or "collect' the offending piece of hardware. Sometimes this can work, but more often it does not. But then Vet will load cow up with antibiotics to keep her from dying of infection caused by an FOIB - foriegn object in body. Before antibiotic withholding time has elapsed, they are so decimated you can't ship them to slaughter, and are left with the bullet alternative.

    The cow's digestive system is complicated. It's about 170 feet long and big enough to hold up to 60 gallons in larger cows. Usually hardware Disease occurs when a piece of wire or nail ends up in the second stomach, where foreign bodies settle out. Here there is risk of object penetrating stomach wall and being forced towards the heart which lies just the other side of diaphragm. Traumatic Pericarditis - An inflammation of the covering of the heart, and resulting complications, is usually what kills the cow.

    So yes, magnets are used to try to save an affected cow. But the original purpose they were designed for was preventive medicine. Collect the metal bits as they come into stomach - before they travel about and do damage.

    Just an aside to the topic - Slaughterhouses collect the "used" magnets and oftentimes your vet can buy these thru vet supply companies at reduced prices.
     
  13. Abouttime

    Abouttime Well-Known Member

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    What a collection of replies! I'm trying to sort out the info and advice, but having trouble coming to a concensus. Would it be correct to say hardware disease occurs infrequently? Hardware disease can be serious or even fatal? A magnet may or may not help, but will not hurt? Although a cough may mean hardware, you should eliminate all other options first? A magnet should not be given until weaning?

    I'm confused about whether giving a second (third, whatever) magnet not knowing about the possible first would be dangerous. Forgive me, but I can't picture how to use a compass to find an ingested one.
     
  14. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    The magnet (and other metal debris) ends up in the reticulum on the left side of the cow, tucked up under the ribs. If you pass a compass back and forth down low behind the left elbow region of the cow the needle will move towards the cow if a magnet is present.

    How common hardware is depends on how much metal is lying around for cows to eat. There are some more obvious signs than just a cough to look for. The cow will normally be running a low fever (around 103) and will be stiff and painful, trying to protect the pain in it's belly. If you pinch them hard over the withers, a normal cow will usually duck down away from your hand. A cow with hardware will stiffen up and stand firm to avoid causing itself more pain. If the cow is valuable, the metal can be removed surgically, rather than trusting to a magnet to do the job. In a cow with hardware affecting the heart, the jugular veins become distended, sticking way out, hard and pulsing. Not much point in treating a cow like that - they usually die. And when moving a cow with hardware, always take it slow. A jump onto or off of the trailer on the way to the sale can kill the cow by driving the nail into the heart.
     
  15. Abouttime

    Abouttime Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Mary-esp for the details about locating a magnet. Sounds like hardware disease is something everybody can agree should be avoided at all costs, if at all possible.
     
  16. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Your conclusions seem reasonable to me. I still have reservations about placing a cow magnet in too young of an animal. Perhaps a firm like Valley Vet Supply or similar could give you a definitive answer on correct minimum size of animal receiving a magnet.
     
  17. Abouttime

    Abouttime Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Up North-I've not had much luck in getting suppliers to answer any such ?'s-They respond to check with my vet, which of course I'd prefer if there was one within 100 miles of this mountain!