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Why do some cows and heifers abort?

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Shelly

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Last night while looking at the cows, we noticed a heifer fussing. Husband said to me that he wouldn't be surprised if she was going to abort. Sure enough, this morning I found a calf on the bed, I figured it was a month premature. Way back in the olden days, I can hardly remember a cow aborting. Now it's like it's a yearly ritual to lose at least one, sometimes two, even three. I thought we were home-free this year being as close to calving as we are. I thought maybe it was some kind of disease we brought in when we've bought a few cows now and then, but this was a heifer this time. She was a virgin heifer bred to a bull that we bought as a yearling (so he was a virgin, too), and he's only ever bred virgin heifers, so I'm ruling out the disease theory. Now I would like your thoughts. Maybe a weather change has something to do with it? The weather went from -30 C to + whatever it was yesterday in the space of 24 hours. Could it be that?
 

Red Robin

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I share your concern Shelly. Last year I had 3 abort. I found two fetuses (is that a word). I took them to my vet and he asked for blood on the cow. I dumped the fetuses in the dumpster and drew blood on the cow a week or two later. I went back and he said blood wouldn't work , " I wish you had found the fetus". :mad: I just assumed some strain of some virus went through them. They all get vaccinated every year for lepto, ibr, bvd , and black leg. Every year I'll have an open that I wasn't expecting and assume the cow aborted. I guess some can be blamed on normal things that happen when we aren't around like getting bumped or slipping and falling. Makes you wonder though if those black helicopters aren't spraying Estrumate into the air. :D
 

Jason

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Vets say about 4-5% abortions are normal. Most we never even know about. The cow aborts early on and gets bred later, or comes in open.

Things can be wrong with the calf, genetic abnormalities etc. and cows tend to abort rather than deliver abnormal calves.

Mold can cause abortions, and even a small amount in one bale that one cow just happens to get too much of can be the cause. Nothing you can do about that.

A severe slip on ice or mud can detatch a placenta and a early delivery/abortion would occur. The calf you found might have lived under better weather, a month early would usually be a premature calf rather than an abortion.

We had a flush on time that amost every embryo would abort at 7 months, like clockwork. The couple live calves we got from A.I were pathetic so we figured there was some serious genetic defect in the bull.
 
A

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Shelly- Didn't you just haul your cows? Sometimes they get jostled, bumped, or slip while loading and hauling and abort in the next few days...Since I truck mine from summer range to winter pasture, I find that happening sometimes...Just part of the cost of trucking ....
 

HAY MAKER

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Shelly from what you described I would suspect cows fighting or moldy hay,some cattle are just more sensitive to moldy hay than others,dont take much to have them abort,others it dont seem to bother,I would take her to town...............good luck
 

Shelly

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Well, I know for a fact, it wasn't moldy feed. I was wondering maybe it was the trailer ride, too. Didn't pack'em on that tight, though. 9 or 10 at the most on a load. Anyways, I think she'll be headed to the yards in a couple of weeks.
 
A

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I think no matter the management that some cows will abort. I also think ice gets blamed on a lot of them, when they probably would have done it anyway. We don't notice much difference either way. Always have a few.
 

TimH

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I always have a few abort every year as well. Usually in February(we calve in April).
A couple years ago, I had 3 head abort within a few days of each other.Scary! I took a fetus to the vet so he could examine it. Two weeks and $90 later, he told me "I don't know". But at least we knew it wasn't any disease or virus.
I think it just "happens". :?
 

MsSage

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Ponderosa pine grows in all of the states west of the Great Plains and in western Canada. Pine needles can be made available to cattle from slash remaining after logging operations, windfalls, or dried fallen needles. Discarded Christmas trees have been known to cause abortions in cows. Lodgepole pine (P. contorta), common juniper (Juniperus communis), and Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) also contain isocupressic acid and may also cause abortions when eaten by cattle.

Here is the rest of the article.
http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=9977
 

cowzilla

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Had a cow abort a day after we weaned the calfs. Guess she could not handle the stress. When I used bale feeders a lot more it wasn't uncommon to see a Boss Cow ram another cow in the side to get her to move. That can't be good for a pregmant mother at any time :!: My cows seem to scrap more just before calfing ,do other folks have this problem?
 

foreman

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I too see the cows the scraping on the feed ground and have 1 to 4 abort everyyear. We vaccinate for every damn thing last year converted the herd over to the fall preg guard program (when you do that you give pregguard aleast 3weeks before breeding and then again in the fall so that they get 2 shots in 1 year then should be ok to just vaccinate in fall) and still had 3 abort. 2 of them were first calf hiefers. always ran all cows together until hiefers start calving then cut them off but I seen last year the older cows wipped on the young cows more. this year cut all the bred hiefers and coming 3's off and run seperate of the older cows to see if that helps. Shelly did you have your bred hiefers running with mature cows before you hauled them.
 

Soapweed

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About twenty years ago, I gave a Vitamin A vaccination to the cows two or three weeks before calving. A dozen of them went into shock from the vaccine before we realized what was happening and quit. Four of those twelve ended up aborting their calves. Since that time I've never given another Vitamin A shot. We do however, add 50,000 units to one batch of cake. Four pounds of the cake gives the cows the same amount of Vitamin A as would 4 cc's of the vaccine. We give the cows two pounds one day, and a couple days later give them the other two pounds. This is a fairly hassle-free and safe way of administering extra Vitamin A before calving.
 

Mike

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Soapweed said:
About twenty years ago, I gave a Vitamin A vaccination to the cows two or three weeks before calving. A dozen of them went into shock from the vaccine before we realized what was happening and quit. Four of those twelve ended up aborting their calves. Since that time I've never given another Vitamin A shot. We do however, add 50,000 units to one batch of cake. Four pounds of the cake gives the cows the same amount of Vitamin A as would 4 cc's of the vaccine. We give the cows two pounds one day, and a couple days later give them the other two pounds. This is a fairly hassle-free and safe way of administering extra Vitamin A before calving.

Seems to me a good mineral with the necessary Vitamins etc. would be the way to go. You might be surprised how a good strong immune system will ward off all kinds of problems.

I can't believe you folks are having to give vitamins for so many different illnesses. Just give them a good mineral and you troubles will subside.
Course it doesn't happen overnight. It takes a good while to see the benefits........but they are there.
 

Soapweed

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Mike said:
Soapweed said:
About twenty years ago, I gave a Vitamin A vaccination to the cows two or three weeks before calving. A dozen of them went into shock from the vaccine before we realized what was happening and quit. Four of those twelve ended up aborting their calves. Since that time I've never given another Vitamin A shot. We do however, add 50,000 units to one batch of cake. Four pounds of the cake gives the cows the same amount of Vitamin A as would 4 cc's of the vaccine. We give the cows two pounds one day, and a couple days later give them the other two pounds. This is a fairly hassle-free and safe way of administering extra Vitamin A before calving.

Seems to me a good mineral with the necessary Vitamins etc. would be the way to go. You might be surprised how a good strong immune system will ward off all kinds of problems.



I can't believe you folks are having to give vitamins for so many different illnesses. Just give them a good mineral and you troubles will subside.
Course it doesn't happen overnight. It takes a good while to see the benefits........but they are there.

Back when I was a kid, Dad was running Herefords. One year there were two or three calves born blind, and the vet diagnosed it as Vitamin A defiency. I can't remember how we got extra Vitamin A into the herd that year, but it stopped the problem.

I am fairly sure that with my present mineral program, the "extra" Vitamin A that I feed in the form of cake is probably unnecessary, but I hate to take a chance. Besides, it really doesn't cost any extra money the way I do it, because the high dose of Vitamin A is put into 13% cake. I usually feed a higher protein cake regularly, so on the days I feed the 13%, the protein part costs enough less money that the high dose of Vitamin A is free, so to speak. :wink:
 

Faster horses

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High nitrates can cause abortion, too. Especially if they are fed nitrates that close to calving.

I too, think it "just happens". Usually if it is disease-related there will be more losses right away.

A cow has to fall awfully hard and just right to abort a calf.

It's our thought that it is really good management to separte the 2 year-old and the 3-year olds from the older cows. Look at the mouth on those young cows compared to the mouth on the older cows. No way can the young cows compete fairly for feed. They just can't get the feed in their little mouth that an older cow can. That reason alone is a good one to make a case for separating young cows from old.

I guess, Shelly, just watch 'em and see if any more calve prematurely; if so then you'd probably call in a vet.
 

sw

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Be glad that they are cows, not humans. Cows will abort 3-4% due to genetic abnormalities, hormone imbalances, just cause, humans run 10-12%. And alot of them you will never notice as they may be very early, embryonic mortality can run even higher yet but you never know unless you have a very short calving season, as in a longer breeding season a cow can get bred early, abort a very young fetus and still cycle back and get bred, she just goes from an early calver to a late calver. Abortions are a real problem, too many causes to really pinpoint an answer. There are some neat studies going on with ultrasound where they can look at fetal developement and causes of embryonic and fetal deaths. Maybe someday they will know more, but for know, who knows for sure.
 

gerts fan

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I'm new to the forum. Hello to all of the fellow farmers and ranchers out there. Our teenage son has 3 Santa Gertrudis heifers and we have 100 cross cows.
Our son's best show heifer was due to calve march 28th and she aborted today, a bull calf we are just devistated!:cry2: My husband said he has never seen one that the belly was so swollen on at 6 months, he said usually they are pretty skinny. Does anyone out there have any advice or similar experience?
Thanks!
Hope eveyone has a safe and happy new year
 

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