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Calf not eating, stooling and laying down  RSS feed

 
Posts: 3
Location: Colorado
chicken dog hunting
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I have a 6 month old longhorn steer, he has been completely normal until 4 days ago, he keeps laying down more often, when its feeding time he will stand by his mother and take a few bites of hay but then nothing and lays down, he will go out to pasture with the rest of the cattle but lays down, no limping, when he does stand up he stretches out a lot and I have not seen him stool at all, he keeps lifting his tail like he is going to but never does. I thought possible scours, but there is no diarrhea. Other than that he is acting normal, he looks normal. Any thoughts? I have thought about moving him into a pen tonight and giving him some electrolytes but not sure if that will help.
Thank you
 
pollinator
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The stretching behavior and tail lifting is indicative of abdominal pain (as long as these are his only symptoms). I know very little about cattle, but i would be thinking along the lines of intestinal obstruction (ate something like baling twine, plastic trash, metal, hair consumed during grooming, etc) or intestinal inflammation. Sometimes an object cuts the stomach lining, even piecing it. An obstruction could be incomplete or complete, so the calf could eat a little and pass a little, and possibly move the offending object along. To do this he needs to keep hydrated. Intestinal inflammation, without a foreign body present, could be from lots of possible problems. Infection, injury (kicked?), worms, toxic food, toxicity (ex. eating paint off an old barn), and such.

Since he's been off for so many days, you may wish to think about have a bovine vet take a look at him.
 
steward
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I'll chime in on the vet suggestion.  Animals tend to not show a lot of symptoms even when they have something serious going on.  
 
Posts: 2300
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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This is above my pay grade. I would just wait and be ready to bury or call a vet and be ready to bury.
 
Melanie Miller
Posts: 3
Location: Colorado
chicken dog hunting
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I already called a vet but they cant get out here till sat thats why i posted the question to get through until sat
 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Finland zone 5
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It's a good thing that the calf eats, I'd make sure he eats something, however little, because ruminants can't take fasting very well, they need to have at least some small amount of feed in their digestive system all the time. Force feed him little hay if you have to. There's some instructions on it I'm pretty sure, if you google. The thing to caution against when force feeding is feed getting into the lungs.

I'd also try and force feed him a small bottle of paraffin oil (available from farm/ feed stores) to lubricate and help get the possible intestinal obstruction moving. If you can't find paraffin oil, any vegetable oil will do. But paraffin is better because it is not absorbed by the intestine.

I'd keep him warm and rub his belly too. Electrolytes are not a bad idea, if you give them with lots of water. Make sure he drinks as much as possible. Give him clean, fresh, warmish water several times a day  to encourage drinking. If it helps, you can mix some syrup/ apple juice in it, to encourage him to drink more.

If you notice some signs of abdominal swelling then that could be a sign of bloat and you need to get help really fast. We keep a bottle of "Cuplaton" in our emergency cabinet all the time. "Cuplaton" is a product that you can give to babies to prevent/ ease colic, it also works for bloat, it's available from all farmacies here. Sorry I don't know what the product name is in the US. For a baby you give about 3 drops with milk. For a cow you give a whole bottle (50 ml). In an emergency if the swelling is getting really bad, the only thing you can do is punch a hole in the stomach, you can get instructions on this too if you google. It has to be in a specific spot.

Hope the vet arrives soon and all goes well!
 
S Bengi
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For humans we have and gripe water/glucose.

So milk/ sugar+water+oil+crushed multivitamin.
For comfort touch, herbs, pain meds.

 
Melanie Miller
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Location: Colorado
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I wanted to give an update, on Thursday when I got home from work the calf seemed to be doing much better nibbling on hay and standing, went ahead and gave him some electroyles and watched him. By Friday he was up and playing with all the other calves, eating hay drinking lots more of the elctroylet water, I watched him and by sat he was normal I canceled the vet app and decided to watch. Sat and Sun he did well acting normal, eating and playing walking well. We may not be out of the woods yet but looks like we took a great turn. Thanks for the advise, and please if you only have something rude to say and you dont have experience with this kind of thing/with cattle and you tell me to just DIG A GRAVE just dont comment on the post then, its EXTREMELY RUDE and makes people more upset about there situation!
 
Nina Jay
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Thanks for the update, Melanie! That's excellent news!

I don't think S. Bengi was trying to be rude but I understand how it must have felt that way to you. I've heard that same saying (or some other version of it) from experienced cattle men/ women and I think it just means that in big cattle heards, over the cause of one's life long career, there are many you can't save and even the vet can't save. It's sort of like "sometimes sh*t happens no matter what you do" of cattle keeping. That's why the vet bills need to be kept in check in so far as not spending more money on an animal than what its monetary value is and sometimes not calling the vet but putting the animal down, if it looks like too expensive a case. For the person with a small herd that kind of thinking sounds cruel, but it may be just common sense if one has, say, a hundred-head herd.


Please correct me S. Bengi if that guess of mine was wrong.

Hope all continues to go well for your calf!
 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Melanie,

I know nothing about keeping cattle, but I have had lots of outdoor cats and I know what it is like to lose them.  You get attached and then they are just gone and it can be a hopeless feeling.  I am certainly happy for you that your calf appears to have pulled through.  You certainly seem like you are truly concerned about the animals under your care--you can tell if a calf is feeling ill just by looking at one.  I doubt I would have that ability, but you certainly do.  Good job on nursing it back to health.

Best Wishes and Good Luck with your animals,

Eric
 
S Bengi
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I wasn't trying to be rude, and I am sorry it caused you extra pain, I was only saying that it is a wait and see game, hopefully the cow gets better by itself and if not a vet can some and help and if that doesn't work it might come down to having to bury it.

As I stated in my 1st post cattle is above my paygrade but I have had goats, dogs, cat, chicken, etc and human babies of my own and human baby siblings. Everything gets sick sooner or later including humans. Sometimes we improve by ourselves quickly. Othe times a doctor will have to be called/visited and they says not too sure but lets try a pain killer come back if nothing improves. At other times they say I know exactly what this is and it is a easy fix and at other times it is not so wonderful news.

Most times my 1st course of action is just to wait and see (rest, breathing, soup/tea/herbs, nutrient dense easy to digest food, herbal remedies/etc, sometimes just any calories e.g. gripe/glucose water) and if that doesn't work for humans a doctor visit is next with lots of prayers. For animals I have never called a vet, so if they don't get better from my personal past experience, I have actually buried the animals. I think the 1st time I did this with my little brother I was 9yrs old and my little brother was 4yrs old. Even before 9yrs old I was killing chicken to eat. Due to my past experiences with animals from a young age, I may give suggestions that is less than helpful for your particular situation.

So you are probably right that I am a bit insensitive, I have been told before that I my attitude of not treating animals as part of the family but as semi-wild is weird and that the way how I grow my plans is messy and weird.

Going forward I will be mindful if any response that I give when it comes to sick animals/pets because my goal is not to make it worse for you or the animal. And there is quite a few other topics I can post on.
 
Su Ba
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Melanie, I'm happy to hear that the calf is doing better. My early thoughts included penetrating hardware disease or intestinal obstruction, and I'm so glad that wasn't the case.

As for the "rude" comments, no one here intentionally tries to be rude. It's sad that you took it that way. Having worked in veterinary medicine, I found the comments to be more a fact of life rather than rude. Mother Nature can be quite effectively deadly regardless of how humans try to interfere. Medications, treatments, vaccines, veterinary skills can't always win the battles with Mother Nature. That's something that successful livestock owners come to realize. As a longtime livestock keeper myself, I often found myself digging a hole each fall so that I'd be able to bury something that might die over the winter, knowing that my veterinary skills can't save them all.

Death is a fact of life. Actually, it's a promise made the moment something is born. We just tend to try putting it off for as long as we can.
 
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