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Iodining calves

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Faster horses

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2005
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NE WY at the foot of the Big Horn mountains
Calving has just started at our place. Officially our starting date is March 25, but our heifers usually come ten days early. We have two already, so these are 15 days early. Same bull as last year, same turn-in date. First calf last year was born on the 16th. I find these things most interesting.

Now on the subject of iodining navels. How do you do it on your operation? I am a stickler about doing it. We have had too many calves with navel ill in the past and could never get them healed up once it is in the joints. We have very, very few now (immune system at work) and we now know how to doctor them so they live. My husband has a mental block and I have to remind him every year that calves born in the barn or the lot, need to be iodined and they need to be done as soon as possible. He uses a spray bottle (not areosol) and does it that way. I am not convinced that is the best. Our old buddy used to use the lid off a whiskey bottle that was oval in shape. He got the navel in the lid and pushed it up to the calf's belly, soaking it good while the calf was standing up. I always thought that was a good way. My husband swears that doesn't work for him. He can't figure out how it can be done because of the calf moving, squirming, etc. He applies the iodine by himself most all of the time. So we had our yearly discussion about it this morning and we agreed that I could ask here the different procedures used by others.

We aren't concerned with the calves born outside, just the ones in the lot. And we haven't had a navel ill problem for awhile. I just hate the thoughts of it. In the past we have given so many shots to treat it, only to have the calf not heal up. I have learned that the bacteria goes to the joint because the circulation is poor there and the bacteria is safe because it is hard to get the antibiotic to the joint, due to poor circulation. It takes aggressive treatment to be effective. Aggressive, like a ten-day treatment. Pen G, 8cc, twice a day for 5 days and once a day for 5 days and they need to be treated every day within 24 hours of the last shot. Or Long-lasting Pen, 10-12 cc once a day for 5 days, then 8 cc once a day for 5 days. That is the only way we have been able to beat the disease once the joints swell. It is most fustrating. I am so thankful that the problem is now minimal or next to none. But we do need to iodine the navels as a precaution.

We'll be looking and hoping for some replies. Thanks!!
We use a spray bottle, do them as soon as we can after they're born. If they're still laying down, I pick up the end of the navel and spray the end heavy enough that it'll run down to the belly. If they're already standing, I just start spraying heavy with the bottle pointed upwards, and it'll run down to the end. Navel infection is no fun, but the odd time we get it, we hit them hard with penicillin for at least 10 days. We've only ever had one that got into the joints and it never truly got over it. The infection would move from joint to joint all summer, but it did make it to weaning time. Can't remember what we did with it after that. Surgery is so expensive for naval ill, and is not a quarantee that everything will be all right afterwards anyways. Best prevention, LOTS OF CLEAN STRAW!!!
Faster Horses--
We,like you only iodine calves born in a small enclosure,not those in
a fairly large and clean pasture.We use a hand spray bottle and the strongest iodine we can get.I think it's important to trim the navel to about i inch and spray it imediately.That way you get rid of any bacteria that may have already started up the navel cord.
Really, Juan? You just cut it off with a knife? I had never heard of that. It does make sense. Have you always done it that way and how did you know about it?

I guess if you all use the spray bottle of iodine, it must work satisfactorily. I will have to concede to him that he was right.

rancher, you are lucky if you have never had problems with navel ill. I think it is the most fustrating of all diseases. We never used to have it, but once we did we had too many all those years when we were having problems.

Thanks, folks, for your input. And if anyone else has anything to add, please feel free.
FH, I don't know if it helps, but if they have to be penned in the barn the floor is limed between use. They are put on fresh pasture 2 days after they are born if calved in a corral or the barn. Corrals are cleaned once a year and the top layer hauled off. Might just be luck, but in all the years I have never had it. Now sheep that is a different story if shed lambed.
Come to think of it, rancher, we used to lime down our barn.

I'll have to ask the old feller who does the work around here if he still does that little chore. heehee!!

Like I say, it hasn't been much of a problem for the past 9 or 10 years, but I still remember having it and you can't be too careful.

Thanks for the reminder!!

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