Little edge-a-ma-cation please

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Errin OH, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. Errin OH

    Errin OH Member

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    Been working with a Dairy farmer that has been working with a high death rate on calfs. I have been getting his bull calfs. I have been running about 40% death loss on MR and he is at 99% on pastureized cows milk. Two live calfs (1 sick, 1 not) have been sent in for disection. So far the vets are stumped.

    Here the deal, I have kept records on all the bulls I done to date (15).
    Of that 5 have died, 2 are in a bad way, 2 are healthly, and 2 are to new to tell, 4 are on soild food. Basicly one of two things happen. The calf will be fine for 4-7 days, get the scours and die in the next 5 or 6 days. Suffer from massive weight loss and infection problems (starve to death). Or it will start out with scours and be dead in a week (same symtoms).

    I had posted about some of this a few weeks back (egg and oatmeal). In that one I had mention that another fella that had been working with these calfs hadn't had any problems. But that information was basicly coming second had. I have since found out that is not the case. He is having the problems as well.

    Pouring over my notes, I my have over looked something. If I get a calf to go on a bucket. He will survive. All deaths happen on the bottle??? So I was looking and searching on the net about the digestive process calfs go thru. Didn't find much but did run across an article that stated "when a calfs head is titled up a mussle closes and the milk bypasses first stomac(s) (sp) and goes directly into one of the others".

    So this got me to thinking. I had suspected Cocilladosios (sp). A pearisite in the gut that was damaging the intestins and preventing absorbtion. However the treatment (back to the notes) didn't seem to help until they start on a bucket. So maybe its the bucket, or milk entering the first stomac, rather than the treatment that is causing improvement. All calfs that make it to soild food survive.

    Any information on digestive proccess or a known bug that affect the final stages of digestion could be a big help.

    BTW - The oatmeal trick (cooked, no seasoning) seem to reduce the weight loss problem on the two that received it. But didn't seem to help the scours. I suspect some of it was getting in the first stomac and thus make it digestable. Even though the bulk of the milk wasn't.
     
  2. Lazy J5

    Lazy J5 Member

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    Sorry to hear about these poor little calves. Three questions come to mind: 1)Are these calves getting plenty of colostrum straight from their dams right after birth? 2) Are the calves vaccinated at birth for Rotavirus and Coronavirus? 3)Are the mothers vaccinated for E. coli before calving or are the calves being vaccinated for it at birth? There are many E. coli strains and they can kill very quickly.

    There are 4 common types of calf scour.
    1)Digestive, from too much milk, it goes straight through the stomachs undigested to the small intestine. Yellowish white scour.
    2)E. Coli (white scour), symptoms are a fall in body temp, ears and tail cold to touch, white scours.
    3)Rotavirus and or Coronavirus, very common cause of scours, usually flares up in the first 10 days. It's contagious and spreads rapidly. Sudden onset of watery yellow scours, follwed by depression and dehydration. Sunken eyes and cold clammy mouth tissues. Death by dehydration.
    4)Salmonella, causes inflammation of the stomcach and intestines, elevated temp, yellow to dark bloody scour. Calves can die in 24 hours, sometimes with little or no scours. Sources of salmonella can be other infected calves; recovered carrier cows; pigs, poultry or people who are infected; rats; infected buildings or trailers. It can live in a dirty building for years.

    Is the herd vaccinated for BVD?
    Coccidiosis is caused by a parasite that is present in a carrier cow's manure. Dark, bloody scours. The irritation from the parasites burrowing into the intestine cause the calf to strain off and on.

    The survival on the bucket and death on the bottle doesn't make sense to me, unless there's some sort of E. coli, samonella or other bug in the bottles or nipples that hasn't been killed by sanitation.

    A calf is designed to nurse with its head up and neck stretched out. When the calf is born its (abomasum) 4th stomach is much larger than its rumen (1st stomach). When the calf is nursing with the head upward, the oesophageal groove of the esophagus closes into a tube. The milk goes direct to the abomasum, bypassing the other 3 stomachs. The milk then forms a curd. And is digested slowly. Every time the calf nurses, which is about every 2 hours, a new little curd is formed. There is no space left for other foods. Beginning at 2 to 3 days, the calf starts nibbling hay or grass and drinking water. The solid foods go into the rumen. Gradually the rumen increases in size and by six weeks or so the rumen is larger than the abomasum and is ready to be the main digestive organ.

    When a calf is bucket fed with the head down, the oesophageal tube is not complete and some of the milk goes into the rumen, where it ferments and is wasted. When the calf is bucket fed twice daily, only 2 curds are fomed in the abomasum. They don't fill the stomach and the calf gets hungry and nibbles hay. These fibrous foods, undigested, get into the abomasum and irriate the lining. When combined with the fermenting milk it can cause bloat. Solid foods can also block the exit from the abomasum and the calf will slowly starve, because the milk can't get into the duodenum.

    Good luck, I hope you can figure out what's getting these little guys.
     

  3. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Lazy, thank you for your very informative and interesting post! I'm copying it and saving it for future reference. :)
     
  4. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Out of curiosity, what part of Ohio is the farm from.
    We lost a prefectly healthy calf overnight. She got white scours and was dead in 24 hours. We treated her with Sav-A-Calf and her stool was fairly solid when she died, but we figured she had gone toxic.
    We haven't dealt with serious scours in 20 years so it was quite a shock. Our newest heifer calf has been pumped full fo things we noramlly don't give in the hopes of keeping her alive. So far she is fine. She has made it to day 5. We lost the other one at 7 days and one before at 6 days.
    Just trying to see if maybe it is something new headed through the area, like the mastitis we dealt with four years ago.
     
  5. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    This reminds me of a problem a friend with a dairy told me about. They were losing a huge percentage of calves in the first 2-3 weeks of life, even though they were being meticulous about cleaning the barrel nursers and using fresh milk. The only solution that worked was they leave the calves on mom to nurse for the first three days- generally the calves are in the calf pen and they just haul out the new ones at milking time and hook them onto mom.
     
  6. Lazy J5

    Lazy J5 Member

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    White scours caused by E. coli can kill so quickly, often before you realize the calf is sick. There are so many strains, and that makes it harder to vacc for. A ranch in the area was vaccinating cows before calving and vaccing calves at birth and they were still dying (commercial beef cattle). Last year the vet took tissue samples from some of the dead calves and sent them in, I think to CSU, but am not sure. Anyway, the lab has been creating a vaccine to treat this particular strain. This is their first spring with the new vacc, so hopefully it will work. They are about 5 miles from my place, so I'm very concerned about my calves this year. My calves will start arriving in a month. Had my vet out to vacc the cows and the calves will get vacc'd at birth.
     
  7. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    How clean are the calves living quarters? Sounds like he has bacteria in their living quarters, and it is spreading to another, and another and keeps cascading down the line. Disease will spread, thats obvious, but im curious how they are setup.. If he is reusing calf hutches that had the sick calves, sounds like they need to be moved, then sterilized.



    Jeff
     
  8. Errin OH

    Errin OH Member

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    Lazy J5
    Are these calves getting plenty of colostrum straight from their dams right after birth?

    Well… yes, no, maybe. I started out on mother’s colostrums. Or so I thought. I found out that in some cases I was getting it’s mother and in some I was getting another’s mother or a mixture of mothers. So I switched to store bought. (TSC Colostrx) Some calves are brand new and some are 12 hours old. Either way I try to have 2 quarts in four hours, followed by 2 quarts within 12 hours of arrival at my place, unless I knew they had been fed before hand. Regardless of source, same symptoms in all cases.

    2) Are the calves vaccinated at birth for Rotavirus and Coronavirus?

    I was not aware of a vaccine per-say, I was under the impression that those were 24 hour bugs that you just managed them thru. I am postive they are not getting anything prior to arriving at my place. I have been getting them anywhere form hitting the ground to 12 hours later. I give them a BVD (TSC – Triangle 9) shot. An antibiotic (Liquamycin) at first signs of infection (usually snotty nose). Corid 5 day treatment at onset of scours. Electro-lites (diluted – 60% mix) all during scours.

    3)Are the mothers vaccinated for E. coli before calving or are the calves being vaccinated for it at birth?

    Yes (mothers), but that’s the direction the vets are going. Several samples from dissected calves still out. They’re thinking a new/uncommon strain.

    There are 4 common types of calf scour.

    Note: Dissection ruled out most common diseases to date but not all.

    Well, hummm… Boy they’re all over the place, I try to describe it a little better.

    Typical – New born to 36 hours, Normal solid poop if any. Starts black in color, not a lot. Normal activity, sleeps when full, up when hungry. Wants more when done eating. Turns brown over next 36 hours and generally stay solid. After 72 it has now switched to yellow but still holds shape. They generally do not produce a lot until day 4. Then they will drop a load and when I say load I mean load (quart and a half or more). It tends to be mostly yellow, but have some brown. May start out in pasty/solid form, but ends up like wet mustard. However calf will still be active and eating. The next dropping will have a white discharge (kind’ a like white plexi glass, see through if thin enough) and little watery. At this point they slow down a bunch (kind’ a like getting kicked in the head) and quit eating on there own. Tend not to get up to poop and just let it go like they have no control. After this it runs all yellow (mustard) and may have “red” blood (spots) mixed in. In some cases it appears to be saturated in red blood. The more blood the harder it becomes to feed them. It’s at this point the weight loss begins. Depending on response to treatment (antibiotics, corid, electro-lites), it will stay this way (till on the bucket) or turn watery with yellow chunks (like soured milk). Generally speaking if it remiains unchanged the amout of blood will decrease over time and will eventually disapear completely. When they go the way of the bucket, they tend to firm up in two-three days, once established, be back to a brown/yellow - paste/solid, and start gaining back some weigh. Generally perk up and regain activity. If they go the watery way, I have to really watch the dehydration. The can go from, up and not feeling well, but still eating, to down and out, can’t force it on them, in just a couple hours. The two that survived this stage got back to mustard until on the bucket. The rest didn’t survive (hydration management?) and they lost that mustard yellow color in favor of lite yellow/white post-it note color.

    Un-typical - I have had four that started out at the 4th day. Bloody yellow runs with white discharge, can’t get to eat at all (usually tube’d) right out of the gate. Tend to be smaller a calf (first year hefers). Only 1 has survived this. But he was a bigger calf and could afford to loose the weight. I think keeping him hydrated was the key factor in his survival. In fact suprised he lasted that long. As a test I started him on a bucket day 11 (usually start around day 21). Although still on the bucket (day 15 and taking starter), you would have never know how bad he was by the way he acts today. Alert, perky, takes great interest in what I am doing, good brownish/darkyellow solid poop. Perfectly healthy????

    Is the herd vaccinated for BVD?
    Coccidiosis is caused by a parasite that is present in a carrier cow's manure. Dark, bloody scours. The irritation from the parasites burrowing into the intestine cause the calf to strain off and on.

    BVD, Yes. The scours w/blood and weight loss (no absorption) made me think coccidiosis.

    The survival on the bucket and death on the bottle doesn't make sense to me, unless there's some sort of E. coli, samonella or other bug in the bottles or nipples that hasn't been killed by sanitation.

    Makes no sense to me either. I gave the Corid the credit for survival until I lost one, and had another go down, on what I though was a proven plan. I since backed up and am currently re-evaluating the problem. All bottles and nipples are washed (brush) after every feeding in anti-bac dish soap and air dried. Maybe I should include a bleach rinse? To date the bucket is the only common thing between survival and death????

    A calf is designed…..

    Thank you very much for that information.

    Dosthouhavemilk – North Central Ohio. I have not heard of any other dairys with this problem around here. But I should add that it hit him hard around county fair time last year. Before or after I could not say.

    Pygmywombat – Staying with mom is no good, they tend to not care for them (not use to it) and the calves have to go suckle who they can. Actually it is worst if they suckle and better if colostrx is used in 4 hours. Seems to give me a day or two head start on symptoms.

    JeffNY – We started out with pairs in a hutch and play musical pens when cleaning. I stopped that after the first few deaths. Went to one calf per hutch, start there, finish there. Un-heated barn, 42x42x48H plwwood hutches (not movable), heat lamp, half front & half top removable to regulate temp. Poop is removed 3-4x daily with new bedding added as it is removed. Bedding changed out every 3-4 days. When calf moves to open pen (weaned from milk) or has died, hutch is emptied, bleached, and walls scrubbed. Left to dry and re-bleach (pump up weed sprayer) a few days later. Left open to dry (cold nights lamp is left on and top prop’d up a bit so it doesn’t freeze and can dry out). After a week or so it will be re-bedded and prep’d for a new arrival. Although I can’t rule it out completely, I doubt contaminated hutches is the cause of new cases. I have had several survivors come out of hutches that have had non-survivors in them before, same calf source, did get sick. A friend needed me keep one for him for a while (yes he was warned). I had it next to the others in a cleaned hutch. Used the same replacer, same bottles, same buckets, just fine, and is now back home. I can say for sure (100%), a new spot for the hutch doesn’t help. I built a new set, same problems. I moved some calves to another building, same problems. Did a set in a trailer with solid floor off the ground, 500' away from the barn, same problem. Pretty sure it’s coming with them. Just haven't figured out what??
     
  9. Lazy J5

    Lazy J5 Member

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    I use Calf-Guard for the Rota/Corona. I draw it up and mix in a syringe, remove the needle and give it orally. Like colostrum, it must be given within the first 12 hours after birth to be absorbed when given orally. Cows can be vacc'd a few weeks before birth.

    Sounds like a really nasty E. coli. E. coli bacterium is normally present in the intestines. Anything that lowers the calf's resistance to infection can allow the e. coli to multiply and become too much for the calf to fight off. The main things that can cause this to happen are lack of colostrum containing anitbodies against the E. coli, rapid temperature changes in the calf's enviornment, cold wet bedding, transportation stress, feeding milk or replacer at inconsistent temperatures, calves kept in dirty conditions.

    What's the calving enviornment like? If they are born in manure, soiled bedding or dirty barns, they might be getting it through the navel.

    Hoping the vets can isolate the problem for you soon.
     
  10. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    Well we've all had our encounters with scours. Your particular strain sounds very familiar. A farm I used to work for in the area had perpetual scours that would decimate their babies. Basically, if a heifer got the scours she would be dead unless the vet came out and put a lactating ringer on her--and even then he could hang up to SIX bags on these babies before they pulled through or died.

    The scours: anytime after 3-4 days of life up to three weeks of age
    starts with yellow PASTY scour, can tend to get whitish
    and have blood present in it
    Dehydration (cold mouth, skin tents, inability to stand)
    the eyes will appear slightly swollen and bug out a little
    The calf gets "jelly belly" --gut feels full and sloshy

    These calves were group housed and there was no such thing as All-In/All-Out. However, stalls were cleaned and sanitized and the state vet school provided diagnostics and necropsied countless calves to no avail. Best guess was a bacterial cocktail of E.coli, cryptosporidia, and misc. opportunistics.

    Our best treatment efforts came from using QUALITY COLOSTRUM, establishing a dry cow vaccine program (Scourguard 3kc, Endovac Bovi),
    and early detection

    At the first sign (usually disinterest in eating) we'd use a sulfa scour bolus twice a day. If the calf started getting "jelly belly" we would pull them off milk and feed Merrick electrolytes 2-4 bottles a day
    If the calf got real "punky" looking we'd use 1cc of banamine and a shot of Nuflor and then continue with the supportive therapy until the calf's appetite returned or they died (unless a girl--they got the lactating ringers)

    I doubt your calves have coccidiosis at their age --calves on milk rarely get coccidiosis unless there is a huge population built up in the soil--so the Corid is probably not doing much for your calves. Good luck