weak cow...looking for input please

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by LinTx, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. LinTx

    LinTx New Member

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    We would normally be asking the vet this but of course unable to reach a vet with it being a holiday weekend. Left messages with vet and no answered calls. We're hoping somebody might have some advice for us. We have a cow on the ground and she cannot get up. She's been fine and nursing her calf(2 months old) up until yesterday. We found laying on her side and unable to get up. Since we couldn't get a vet we asked a neighbor who seemed to think she might need to be wormed. We gave her the worm medicine and we rolled her to a more sitting position. After a couple of hours she seemed to become more alert and began eating grass around her and she drank some water. She tries to get up but hasn't been able to yet. She's alert and eating and drinking, but still unable to get up. Does anyone have any ideas of what the problem might be or what to do next? We've had cows for a while but have never had this problem before. Our neighbor seemed to think the best thing for her was to put her down, but she has a baby and we only would do that as a last resort. Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. SHELBY

    SHELBY Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what could be wrong with her. How long has she been down? You have to get her up somehow If they are down too long then she will lose strength in her legs and not be able to get up and there for you will have to put her down....
     

  3. pumpkinlady

    pumpkinlady Well-Known Member

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    What are you doing for the calf in the mean time. It will have to eat. Do you have any milk replacer you could feed it? Nothing will be open tomorrow to get some. Or do you know a local dairy farmer that will give you a bucket when they go to milk their cows?

    Leave plenty of food and water for the cow if she is being responsive to eating. I would watch her to see how she is doing before making any rash decisions about putting her down.

    My concern would be for the calf. You don't want to chance losing both of them.
     
  4. LinTx

    LinTx New Member

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    We would only put her down as a last resort because she does have a baby to take care of. The baby is eating a little grass and hay so he's not going completely without . We do have some milk replacer that we can use if we have to. I caught the baby nursing this morning even though she was laying down so I haven't given milk replacer yet.
    We are keeping a tub of water and some food near the cow and her appetite seems to be decent. She continues to attempt to get up, but not successful.
    I know we need to get her to her feet. Any suggestions on how? We don't have alot of fancy equipment here to use unfortunately so any suggestions?
     
  5. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    To lift the cow get a piece of strap such as old fire hose, tow strap, or such. Place it by her, roll her over on it and secure it to a rope or chain. Strap together two sapings or 2 by 4s in an A shape, tie them well with something. Lay the rope or chain in the v shape above the cow, at the top of the rig, lean it about 25 degrees and attach the rope to a vehicle. Pull gently and slowley, it should lift her. Make sure the strap does have enough slack so she can just step out of it after she is lifted. As the strap goes from the 25 degrees to straight up it should lift about 1/3rd the distance of its own height from the ground to the tied place.
     
  6. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    If you have any banamine or bute, try that. Sometimes they basically pull a muscle in their leg and it hurts too much to get up. The pain killers help enough that they can get up. Try it now, if you have some. If not, try to track some down ASAP. If you can reach any vet, they should have it.

    In the meantime, roll her from side to side every couple hours. If she's laying on her right hip, get her over on the left one. Keep her upright on her chest though. Rolling her will help to save the muscles from dying from lack of circulation. Staying upright will help her breathe and prevent pnuemonia.

    In the meantime...make sure the calf can nurse. If not, milk the cow, if you can and feed that to the calf. Is the milk replacer on hand the good stuff? If it made with soy proteins, don't even feed that to the calf. It will die, wait to get the good stuff and keep giving it mom's milk. I'd milk out extra and freeze it too, just in case she dies before you can get to a store.

    I have never saved a downer cow. It's a long shot, but I always try.

    Jena
     
  7. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Is your soil or feed deficient in any trace minerals? Are you supplementing or providing minerals in some form? You do need a vet and you do need one as quick as possible. I'm like Jena, I've never had a lot of luck with downed cows but also keep trying when it does happen. Follow the rest of her advice carefully.
     
  8. Bar-W

    Bar-W Member

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    I had that experience once with a beef cow.
    Called the vet out and it was milk fever she had.
    We doctored her and she made it.
    Bar-W
     
  9. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Well-Known Member

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    A shot of vitamin B would be worth a try, I've seen that work on some. Milk Fever usually occurs within a few days of calving.
     
  10. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If she is grazing on lush grass, this could be a mild case of grass tetany. This happens in spring when the grass grows quickly, animals are raising babies and have high nutritional needs. The fast growing grass just doesn't have enough mineral ( usually magnesium) and the animal crashes.....
    A big dose of epsom salt( magnesium chloride) will work in an emergency. If it is grass tetany, she will have a miraculous recovery. If not, she will have a laxative.
    In really bad cases, the vet will give magnesium gluconate thru an IV in her jugular vein.

    Since she perked up with the worming, it may be a heavy parasite load.
    Keep hay in front of her and hope you can get a vet out soon.
    Tana Mc
     
  11. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    It's mid week now and I would think that you've had some discussion with your vet. I'm very interested in how this played out and what your vet had to tell you.
     
  12. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Me too!

    I hope you saved her and if so, I'd like to know how, in case I need to know sometime!

    Jena
     
  13. LinTx

    LinTx New Member

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    Thanks to all who have tried to help. We didn't have a clue what to do for her, and I thought somebody else might. We didn't want to have to put her down with her having such a young calf. Unfortunately, she still isn't out of the woods yet. A vet finally got back with us yesterday...where are they when you need them...and he seems to think she hurt her back somehow (hopefully it isn't broken, he said). He said with her baby only being 2 months that she was probably coming into heat and one of the other cows probably jumped on her and made her fall and hurt her back. He gave us some steroids to give her and said that in a few days the inflammation should be down and she should be trying to get up. This is the second day on the steroids and we've seen her struggling to get up, but with no success yet. She can't get her back legs to work right. We're not sure yet that we'll be able to save her, but we wanted to try this so we would know we did everything we possibly could to save her. We've rolled her from side to side, but with her having been down so long (Fri. will be a week), it's not looking good as far as her being able to use her legs. Thanks again to all of you who responded to my post.
     
  14. silver

    silver Active Member

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    I have been reading the posts each day two or three times a day. I was anxious to see what the vet had to say. We have lost a steer and a cow that had a two-month-old calf. Both had much the same systems. They could get up on their front legs but could not get their back legs under them. Both tried many times. We kept rolling them from side to side, both were eating well and drinking, and body functions were fine. The steer finally ended up with pneumonia and died. We finally got a vet out to see the cow. He checked her out from head to toe, inside and out. Said her uterus and such were fine no problem there. No mastitis, no problem with her lungs and we were already giving her penicillin just to be on the safe side. He said that he thought it was the fact that she was probably low on minerals giving all she had to the making of the milk. We had been giving her mineral mixed in her feed but maybe not enough. So he gave her many different kinds in an IV and she acted a little better the next day. We put wraps around her and the tractor hydraulics to raise her. Got her feet under her and massaged her legs and such to get them limber. She stood up for awhile on her own and even walked around the pen. We went out to check on her every hour or so. She was moving around the pen and looked like she was going to rally and be ok. The next morning when we got up she was gone. So I am very interested in hearing about yours and all the vet has to say. And any other out there who might have had the same problem. What could we have done different and how can you tell if you cow has a mineral deficiency? I thought that the cattle mix had all that they would need in it. Now I have salt and mineral blocks out for each cow and in each field. Can they get to much mineral in the system? Someone mentioned milk sickness to me but said it would have shown up a little after birth. What is milk sickness and what are the systems of this? What do you do for it? And that would not explain what happen to the steer with the same systems. Any information and ideas would be appreciated. Thank you
     
  15. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Silver,

    Could this have been from ticks or warbles? Had the animals been recently wormed? Something toxic in the pasture?

    The best way to take care of minerals is to feed a high quality loose mineral free choice. Do not use those trace mineral blocks as a mineral source, they are worthless. I know some people use them as a salt block because they think they last longer, but as a mineral source, they just won't do.

    Check with the feed store or vet to see what type of mineral you should feed for your area. Different areas are deficient in different minerals. Ask if you should change your mineral mix seasonally.

    I use a mineral with vitamins AD&E during the winter time. Before grazing starts, I switch to a high magnesium mineral to combat grass tetany and fescue toxcity. It also has the stuff that makes cow patties inhospitable to fly larvae to help cut down on flies.

    Some minerals can cause problems if given in excess, but if you are feeding free choice mineral that should not be a problem.

    Milk fever usually comes on when the cow first starts producing lots of milk. It happens when they rob their own blood calcium and get their minerals all out of whack. It can be cured by an IV infusion of the needed minerals.

    Did the vet suggest any tests that could be given to determine the cause of this? Blood work or something? If it happens again, I would contact a university vet clinic or something to see if the cause can be traced down through tests or tissue samples.

    Two downers from unknown causes would totally freak me out! Scary.

    Jena
     
  16. silver

    silver Active Member

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    Jena,
    Didn’t see any ticks on any of the cattle and I am sorry what is warbles? Yes, all the cattle are wormed on a regular bases just to be sure. Since all cattle eat on the same pasture and no more look or act sick I don’t think it is pasture but I could be wrong. Along with the mineral blocks we are still doing the free choice mineral as well what is needed for our area, I understand that each area needs different kinds. I was hoping the vet would suggest a autopsy but no he did not. I am watching the other cattle like a hawk for any signs at all of anything at all. It was a huge loss for us and we can’t afford that again at all. I also was thinking they could do some type of blood work on either one of them to see what was the problem. But he was so sure it was the minerals I didn’t push for it to be done. I am in no way blaming the vet, I am sure that he knows his business and does the best he can. He even checked all of other cattle and animals while he was here to make sure they were all healthy can’t bet that. He didn’t charge me a thing for that at all. I will still be looking up things and trying to find out more about all the possible things it might have been. Thanks so much for your input. I learn a lot this way.
     
  17. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Warbles are a type of fly larvae that live in the cow's body. They grow in different places, one of which is near the spinal cord. They can cause paralysis.

    If your cattle might have warbles, you should not worm them in the winter months. Killing the larvae at that stage causes reactions in the cow to the dead larvae that can also lead to paralysis.

    Look up warbles, heel flies and cattle grubs.

    Jena
     
  18. silver

    silver Active Member

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    You have been so helpful. Thank you many times over. I am looking up the items now.
     
  19. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Jena already addressed what milk fever is, so I will attempt to tackle the second part of the question. :)

    Symptoms: lethargy, cow goes down and can't get up. Check the ears; if they feel cold to the touch, she's in trouble.

    An injection of calcium gluconate will help. I have been told that if you don't know how to do it intravenously, at least inject it under the skin while waiting for the vet to arrive.

    Act fast, as this condition can be lethal, but I have seen cows recover from it too ...

    BTW, yes it is most common in the first few days after birth, but I happened to be talking to a vet today who said he has seen it in cows in all stages of lactation, and even in a few dry cows. :confused: We had one go down on the farm who was at least 3 weeks postpartum.

    A final thought: I have read that it's not a good idea to supplement a cow heavily with calcium prior to calving. I realize that sounds counterintuitive, but there you have it. I think maintaining proper magnesium levels are important too, as it helps the cow metabolize calcium property.

    Do a Google on milk fever and you will find crudloads of info. :)
     
  20. Well, since I started this thread, I thought I would let everybody know where we stand. Unfortunately, we had to put the cow down. We had hoped that there would have been some way to save her, and we had hope at one point when she was looking better and grazing around her and fighting like crazy to get up. She started getting weaker though and even with the tractor's hydraulics holding her up she wouldn't use her legs. We didn't want to drag it out any longer.
    The baby is doing fine. Of course, he's missing his mom but he's doing alright. Since I've been feeding him, he now stands in the pasture in a spot near the barn where I usually feed him and looks around and moos and can't get to me fast enough when he sees me.