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Help calves dying

1830 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  jessandcody
We have been raising a few beef calves for about 5 years now. We never had any problem until this year. We have just lost our second calf in about 2 weeks. They are fine one day and the next thing you know they are laying there dead. Any clues? They have access to hay free choice and a barn. They were born in the spring, so they are not super young. There is always a source of water as we have a stock tank heater. Thanks for any help you can give.
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Call the vet. I have never lost a calf after weaning. If one died, I would freak out, two in two weeks? I'd be frantic!!! Call the vet!

If you can't/won't do that, here are my questions...

What kind of hay are you feeding? Do they have mineral? Are they getting anything else to eat?

Any symptoms at all? Snots? Scours? Uncoordinated? Fever? Droopy ears? Lethargy? Are they eating well? If you take a bucket of feed out, so they run eagerly to eat it?

Have they had their shots? When? What? Both rounds? Have they been wormed?

Have you examined the bodies VERY carefully? Calf skins are useful in themselves: have you skinned the bodies, so you'd be sure you'd see a bullet hole if there was one?
Get a necropsy done...Its cheaper in the long run to figure out whats wrong and pay for it done than to have more losses. I know at the University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnosis Lab they will do it for free and you will get a report back through your vet. I know you are in Ohio, not sure how close you are to KY. Maybe Ohio State has a similar program.
By all means have a necropsy done but I would also recomend getting your feed tested. In cases of drought or odd weather patterns, hay can be toxic, nitrate or nitrite poisoning and it will surely kill animals.
We had a similar problem a few years back and it turned out to be all the acorns they had eaten. You have no way of knowing for sure without a lab analysis. Get up with a vet and see what they recommend.
With the price of beef being up like it is it won't take long to lose your shirt if you don't fix the problem.
Give us some more information on exactly what's going on!
A healthy calf one day. Dead the next. I would suspect Blackleg. Ask your vet if it is in your area. They is a Blackleg vaccine. The Blackleg spores can live in soils for a long time just waiting for the right weather conditions to become active. If it is Blackleg, dig a deep hole, fill it with firewood, burn the carcass and then cover the hole.
yeah I agree. it might be blackleg. I have heard about it my friends raises cattle and he had this problem and there is a vaccine for it. Ask you vet. I think it was 11 dollars per cow.
Last time I bought blackleg vaccine it was about 50 cents a pop. Just needed for calves as once cattle get to be about 18 months old they seem to have a natural immunity thereafter. Normally Blackleg happens in a dry, hot fall, but the age of the calves is about right. For some reason Blacklegs always seems to take the nicest calves.

Ken S. in WC TN
Blackleg vaccine is usually included in a 7-way clostridal vaccine. Also good for haemopholus (can't remember how to spell it), pasturella and some other nice calfhood illnesses. If you only could give one shot to weaned calves, I'd choose this one, though we also give a 4 or 5 way.

A bottle of 50 doses of 7-way costs $11.

I would check around the pasture for any toxins like anti-freeze, detergents, ect. Moldy hay can kill quik if it is the right mold. Check the water for contamination. I hate to suggest it but is it possible that someone poisoned it or something? Also is it hunting seson there? There are some pasture plants that can be poissones as well, check with the extention agent to find out what is in the area. I have herd of caves eatting nails and such and dieing pretty quik too. Sorry to hear of your loss and good luck tracking the cause.

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