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Calf problem. Anybody seen this before?

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cow chaser

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So far, I haven't found any info on the web and my vet has no idea either. Cattle are my uncles, but affected calves are sired by my bulls, so I would really like to figure this one out.

The Problem: Showed up about the beginning of Sept on March and April born calves. Almost like the backbone has sunken clear down in the shoulders, shoulder blades raise significantly on each side as the calves walk, maybe 5" above the backbone on the worse calf. Almost looks like the muscles are sliding down into the armpit area. Otherwise the calves seem healthy. Pictures are of the worse calf.

Here's the why I can't pin it down as anything. Calves are sired by full brother grandsons of Emblazon, no calves from other sires in the herd seem to be affected. That leads me to think that it is a genetic defect. But.....Probably only 20% of calves sired by these two bulls have been affected. I bought some cows from him that had calves from these sires and none of them show any symptoms. There is 4 other full brothers in three different herds and none of their calves have shown any symptoms.

My uncle has fed no salt or mineral since they went to grass in May, before that I'm not sure.

My conclusion has been that something they lack for mineral nutrition is affecting a weakness in the genetic makeup of the calves. I had thought something to do with White Muscle Disease, but we are in an area that generally has high Selenium.





Any ideas?[/url]
 

Ho55

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I've seen this. Do you have any poisonous plants around?
 

cow chaser

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Not sure on how close the cows are related yet, my uncle hasn't got that info rounded up for me yet.

He's also going to figure out where the calves were for most of the summer. They were split up into three bunches.

On the poisonous plants, a few that I know we have this year are Poison Vetch, Snow on the Mountain, got cockleburs bad but they are mature enough I don't think they would eat them. Also have Death Comas, but I haven't seen any this late in year. Probably about 50 other ones that I don't know about.

Heck, I lost a young cow and about lost a second one to Kosha weed pollen a few years back.
 

Clarencen

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Might be Selenium poisoning. I have never experienced it,but high selenium area and poison Vetch rings a bell. Poison vetch is a selenium accumulater.
 

Faster horses

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It has been my experience that symptoms of selenium poisoning are loss of hair, loss of hooves and emaciation. I did a search and found the following, which also mentions milk vetch.

Animals consuming milk vetch (Astragalus bisulcatus) have demonstrated clinical signs similar to those of blind staggers. Although milk vetch contains high levels of selenium, evidence now indicates that the alkaloid swainsonine in milk vetch is responsible for locoism and produces the neurologic clinical signs.

Clinical Findings

Alkali disease has been reported in cattle, sheep, and horses. Affected animals are inactive, weak, anorexic, lame, emaciated, anemic, and lack vitality. In addition, the most distinctive lesions are those produced by damage of the keratin of the hair and hooves. For horses, the predominant clinical manifestation is lameness due to founder. The animal has a rough hair coat, and the long hairs of the mane and tail break off, giving a “bob” tail and “roached” mane appearance. Abnormal growth and structure of horns and hooves result in circular ridges and cracking of the hoof wall at the coronary band. Extremely long, deformed hooves that turn upward at the ends also may be seen. Subsequent lameness is compounded by degeneration of joint cartilage and bone. Reduced fertility and reproductive performance occurs, especially in sheep and cattle. Reproductive performance may be impaired with a dietary selenium content lower than that required to produce the other typical signs of alkali disease. Other lesions may include liver cirrhosis, ascites, and myocardial necrosis/scarring.


http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/toxicology/selenium_toxicosis/chronic_selenium_toxicosis.html

We are wondering if this problem is in both heifers and steers.

If you figure something out, let us know, cowchaser. I've never seen anything like the pictures you posted. Good luck!
 

Ho55

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I've got a calf that I sent to the mountain that looks just like your calf in your pictures. I've seen this a time or two before. I'm no vet and not sure what causes this, but I believe it's something the cow eats later in her pregnancy. Every time I've seen this the cow has been eating loco weed about 6 to 7 months along.
 

cow chaser

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It's going to be interesting how this plays out, hopefully we'll end up with an answer that is the right one. Looks like the next step will be some blood samples off to the state lab for mineral content and some samples to a genetic defect guru. At least I'll get some more roping in.

Put mineral and salt out in front of those cows on Thursday so I need to go back and see how they consumed on that.

I'll keep you posted on anything new I find out.

Thanks for all the ideas.
 

cow chaser

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Calves looked normal until about early Sept. Out of 11 head that I think are affected, you can only pick out two of them if they are just standing still. To pick out the rest, you have to get them walking.
 

cow chaser

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Bull was same breed ( Black Angus ) as cows but should be fairly outcrossed, as his bulls in the past have been from people breeding popular, mainstream, power/growth/high milk type bulls. Still waiting for him to get the data back to me on the mothers of these calves, he should be able to tell me their sires and probably grandsires.
 

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