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Large Calf Rapid Death - No real symptoms

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Kentucky

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Hello!
We just found this site. The advice here seems great!

We have a growing cattle operation here in Kentucky, and we've been at it for 9 years. We had a calf up and die on us this weekend and I'd be grateful for any input you might have.

A 5 month charolais calf that we've had about 6 weeks (bought as cow and calf) died suddenly with no symptoms except that it had acted "lazy" for the previous 20-24 hours. It wanted to lay around alot, but we could always get it up. There were no other symptoms at all, no limping, no strange breathing, no nothing!

We got it up in the corral, took the temp (normal) and before we could do anything else it just fell and died. We have noticed that it never passed any manure after death....and it was mighty clean back there, like it hadn't gone in a while.

Any thoughts out there????
 

mrj

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Kentucky said:
Hello!
We just found this site. The advice here seems great!

We have a growing cattle operation here in Kentucky, and we've been at it for 9 years. We had a calf up and die on us this weekend and I'd be grateful for any input you might have.

A 5 month charolais calf that we've had about 6 weeks (bought as cow and calf) died suddenly with no symptoms except that it had acted "lazy" for the previous 20-24 hours. It wanted to lay around alot, but we could always get it up. There were no other symptoms at all, no limping, no strange breathing, no nothing!

We got it up in the corral, took the temp (normal) and before we could do anything else it just fell and died. We have noticed that it never passed any manure after death....and it was mighty clean back there, like it hadn't gone in a while.

Any thoughts out there????

Can you have a veterinarian do a post mortem exam? With our accumulated ranch experience of more than 112 years, we find it saves time in treatment to have a dead calf posted, if cause of death isn't obvious, so treatment can be accurate. We have to haul the animal 30 miles, so it isn't real simple, but worth doing, we believe.

MRJ
 

George

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Wish I could help - - - if you get it posted and find out please share it with us.

I used to buy a lot of calves from Kentucky - - - the mamoth cave sale barn was a great place for me to go. I have not been their lately.
 

Angus Breeder

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Kentucky, If the animal was incapable of forcing a bowel movement the symptoms that you noted would have been drawn out longer in most cases. First let me say that it is always a great idea to have any animal lost posted so you know what you are dealing with. Sudden death in a calf of that age would really make one look at blackleg. Especially if he had acess to feed where he may be gaining several pounds a day. Let us know how it turns out.
 

efb

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I've had an even more puzzling experience with two mature cows.
I have lost 2 mature cows two years apart, both in the second week in September and within 50 yards of each other. Both cows appeared completely healthy. The second one I saw grazing at sundown just as content as every other day of her life ( she was raised on the place). The next morning I found her dead. I had the first one posted by our vet. The tissues sent to Texas A&M lab. All the tests were negative and the vet had no ideas. The second one I just buried. I thought they might have been shot, but couldn't find any marks. What do you think was going on there ???? Fortunately that has been several years ago and I haven't lost another one.
 

Faster horses

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In the case of the calf that was questioned, my first and formost thought would be overeating; or entertoxemia. Had this calf had a blackleg shot? That contains overeating vaccine as well.

The cows; who knows? We had a big cow that had a heart attack years ago. She just never got off the bed ground. Legs folded under her and the whole bit. Some of them just get tired of living.

Unless they are on a good mineral program, of course. :wink:
 

Denny

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Faster horses said:
Unless they are on a good mineral program, of course. :wink:

Well then mine should live to be a ripe old age... :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

Soapweed

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efb said:
I've had an even more puzzling experience with two mature cows.
I have lost 2 mature cows two years apart, both in the second week in September and within 50 yards of each other. Both cows appeared completely healthy. The second one I saw grazing at sundown just as content as every other day of her life ( she was raised on the place). The next morning I found her dead. I had the first one posted by our vet. The tissues sent to Texas A&M lab. All the tests were negative and the vet had no ideas. The second one I just buried. I thought they might have been shot, but couldn't find any marks. What do you think was going on there ???? Fortunately that has been several years ago and I haven't lost another one.

I have heard that cockleburrs eaten at the wrong stage can be very poisonous. If they are still green at that time, and other vegetation has lost its luster, maybe the cockleburrs have caused the cows' deaths.

We lost two cows in September of this last year, and I am kind of blaming their demise on a few cockleburr plants that were in the pasture.
 

BarMJ

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Concerning the cows; It made me think of a lightning struck calf I saw when I was younger, I suppose that might be real obvious if you had it posted though.
 

Kentucky

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Wow - I went to my folks house for dinner and came back to 9 replies! Thanks everyone.

We did think about a post mortem....but it's an hour and a half away.....

We're going to hope this was an isolated incident. We DO have a call into the people we bought the cow/calf from to inquire about blackleg vacc. Also - the vet mentioned a possibility of a "twisted gut" and described a way to roll the calf about that can sometimes help. But the calf died before we were able to try anything.

As I said....this was very strange and new to us - any animals that have been sick in the past have been obviously sick, such that we've been able to take clear action right away.

I guess we'll always be learning new stuff with cattle!!
 

Hanta Yo

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For what it's worth. My first thought was overeating, was he acting just "lazy" or did he act like he had a bellyache? Bellyache-up and down and kicking at belly and laying around. We've found that by vaccinating our calves at birth with Alpha 7 (7-way-includes black leg) our problem of losing calves just before branding disappeared. We always lost one or two of the biggest ones before we started the "at birth" regimen. I agree with these other posts, I would do a post-mortem on him. I understand about distance, we are 1 hour away from the nearest vet.
 

Kentucky

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Hanta Yo:

The only thing this calf was doing was laying around more than normal. He didn't act in distress at all.Maybe I should also add that this calf (for the 6 weeks we had him) was never a ball of fire. He was always very calm, tame, and laid back. All our black calves (Angus and Angus mix) are always running, jumping, and acting completely FULL of energy.

I'm now starting to wonder if he hadn't been "well" for the entire time we had him. This being our first charolais pair, I just thought this was a laid-back breed. But I've been hearing that they're normally the most hyper!

Don't know if this info helps.

I'll check into the post mortem.....
 

Kato

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I bet you're right that he had some sort of chronic problem. The normal temperature just before he died is common, even if he had a high fever before. One of the signs of impending death is a drop in body temperature. He could have had a high fever only hours before, but once the body's systems start to shut down, the temperature usually drops.

I bet a post mortem would find a reason for this calf's death. It's still a good idea to check the vaccination history of the cow so you can get her up to speed too.
 

lazy ace

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posting him should help find the answer and could prevent further death losses. Sometimes when we post animals the answer from the vets is they are dead. Vets don't always have the correct answer. I have a Charolais breeder friend and I always kid him about Charolais the breed born to die, you just don't know when.(lol)

have a good one

lazy ace
 

Kentucky

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Well, we didn't get the charolais calf posted.....and 4 days later, another calf has died suddenly (angus mix).

My husband and I each canceled our plans for tonight and spent four hours roundtrip taking this calf to the after-hours place to get posted. Local vets won't do it.

The mood is very somber around here. In our (albeit short) 9 year history we've never had one calf drop dead, let alone 2!! We are stunned.

One weird symptom on this latest calf: two days before he died he was nursing on his momma while she was laying down. I've never seen that before. I thought it was funny until the calf died shortly thereafter. The momma looks and acts fine.

Other than that weird symptom....the calf was up, eating, drinking out of the pond this morning - but like the charolais, acting sluggish (didn't mind if we got up close). Just as a precaution we gave it antibiotic, and temp was normal. By noon, temp was way down, calf was up...then fell and died around 1:00 p.m.

Ugh ugh ugh.......
 

sw

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Sounds to me like classic "redwater" if they have never been vaccinated with a 7-way or some Clostridial combination and they are drinking out of a pond that has snails in it. I have seen mature cows tip over dead with no symptoms at all and posted them and that is what they had. If they are stressed from something else they can tip over very fast with no outside symptoms at all. You had better run the rest of the calves through and give them a shot of 7-way
 

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