Sick cow

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2 years 11 months ago #554926 by Dr Spock
Sick cow was created by Dr Spock
Hi all. My Jersey cow has been sick for about 3 weeks now. She had been getting progressively thinner since about February despite drenching and finally went down and seemed to have lost the strength to get herself up again 3 weeks ago. She had lost her moo for a while before that and her coat was quite rough (whether that's related or not). The vet suspected Johnes as she had diarrhea and was so thin but the blood test (though not foolproof) cam back negative. He gave her a couple of shots of bivotop and antiflamm and some energy drinks. She got herself up once soon after her first shots but hasn't been able to again since. The vet was against lifting her initially as he thought it was too soon but after three days I have been lifting her daily and in the last week twice daily with hip clamps. Feeding her lots of supplements. She seems to eat and drink okay. She looked like she was starting to improve and then we got the rain! I cover her at night and during the worst of the rain she was mostly in a shed. Once she is up she moves around okay and is able to stand and graze for several hours before she sits down again. She otherwise seems quite bright.
She last calved at the end of November and is not in calf now.
I am at my wits end. I'd like to save her but the cost on time, money and energy is starting to wear thin.
Any ideas gratefully received.

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2 years 11 months ago #554927 by Jaybee
Replied by Jaybee on topic Sick cow
Times I've had cows go down or lose weight for no reason the vet has said it's most likely due to subclinical facial eczema, something to consider if it's prevalent in your area.

The fact she's eating and moving around once up is positive, but after this amount of time it seems dubious that she will recover, and having to repeatedly use hip clamps is an animal welfare issue. If she was mine I would shoot her (sorry to be brutal).

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2 years 11 months ago #554929 by Dr Spock
Replied by Dr Spock on topic Sick cow
Thanks - I think. FE not an issue down here.

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2 years 11 months ago #554930 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic Sick cow
Are you in an area that is very low on copper and cobalt. Copper deficiency, once called bush disease, can cause severe scouring leading to death. We had a well grown steer with bad scours and the vet wormed and then gave him antibiotics thinking he had pneumonia It didn't work. He slobbered and snooted up lots of mucous and my thoughts were that he had woody tongue but didn't have the characteristic swollen jaw. When the vet finally gave us the antibiotic treatment used in woody tongue he came right, stopped scouring and put on most of the weight he'd lost. Talk to your vet about other possibilities.
Do you have Theileria in your area?

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S
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2 years 11 months ago #554931 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Sick cow
How old is she? I cull our cows when they get to about 11 years old after the 8th calf. Our land is steep and homekills I have done have shown very worn hip joints, which give them agony. Having calves leaches calcium out of the bones I think.

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2 years 11 months ago #554934 by jeannielea
Replied by jeannielea on topic Sick cow
Has she been tested for BVD? Symptoms seem similar and ill thrift with diarrhroea are typical. It passes on through droplets so can get to your herd if there are other cows nearby and it is passed onto calves in pregnancy. A lot of vets don't think to test for it even though a lot of publicity brought it to people's knowledge a few years back.
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2 years 11 months ago #554935 by Dr Spock
Replied by Dr Spock on topic Sick cow
Thanks. I'll check with the vet. Never heard of Theileria before.

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2 years 11 months ago #554936 by Dr Spock
Replied by Dr Spock on topic Sick cow
She is only 4. Had her third calf.

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2 years 11 months ago #554937 by Dr Spock
Replied by Dr Spock on topic Sick cow
No. The vet didn't suggest BVD. She didn't have a temperature or loss of appetite or discharges. Her milk production did drop but I put that down to the time of year.

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2 years 11 months ago #554940 by Ronney
Replied by Ronney on topic Sick cow
Stikkibeek, not wanting to be rude but Bush Sickness is Cobalt deficiency, not copper. I know this to my cost!

Dr Spock, can we go back to the beginning? What is the recent history of this cow? When did she last calve? forget that, I re-read your post and it was November. Where in the country do you live? When did she (and the rest of your stock) have blood tests for the likes of copper, cobalt, selenium? The reality is that it could be any one of a number of things causing this problem and I'm a little surprised that you're vet isn't being a bit more proactive. She's a young cow, calved 3 times (you say she's 4, by that I take it you mean she's a R5 and would have gone to the bull at 15 months?), and has had no previous health problems?

I loathe, hate and detest hip clamps. They're bloody hard on a cow. Get on your local fb page to see if you can beg, borrow or steal a cow sling. I have borrowed a set off another member (Ruth) on a couple of occasions and they are much easier on the cow. I do know the time and effort that goes into this. Some years ago I had a cow go down through calving and managed to do it in the drain. Pulled the calf and lost it and nearly lost her. Spent the first 3 nights actually sleeping with her because she kept trying to stand and couldn't with the result she would end up on her side. I read a lot of books, drank a lot of coffee (and wine), she broke a rib (mine), and I shifted a lot of tyres and hay bales as she flung herself across the paddock. We finally loaded her on to a carry-all and brought her back closer to the house, and borrowed Ruth's sling. It took two weeks but one morning I went down, started the tractor and lifted her - and she walked out of the sling. I stood in the paddock and cried - out of relief and exhaustion. You're right, it's mentally, physically and financially a hard road to go down but you become so invested in it, that it's hard to know when to call it quits.

I think, going on the information you have given, I would be asking for bloods to be done for cobalt, copper, selenium plus whatever else may be lacking in your area, and looking into the possibility of FE. Despite the fact that it's the wrong time of the year for it, don't rule it out. Over 20 years ago I lived in Taupo. A jersey cow calved, had no milk, went downhill rapidly and nothing the vet did improved the situation. She died and he asked if he could do an autopsy. I too was keen to know what had happened so said yes. He didn't even get to the liver - the colour of the fat told us, and the liver definitely did. At some point she had contracted FE and had lived long enough to carry and birth her calf but the stress on her liver was enough to tip her over the edge at calving. The vet was gob smacked and said it was a wake up call for him and other vets in the area. He admitted that the last thing he would have been looking for in a Jersey cow, in the Taupo region was FE. In other words, don't rule anything out!

I'll be interested to know where this goes - and my thoughts are with you. I loved my Jersey cows (although I only have one left and she's R25). However, that aside, there has to be a reason for this and I hope you can find it.

Cheers,
Ronnie

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2 years 11 months ago #554941 by Dr Spock
Replied by Dr Spock on topic Sick cow
Thanks Ronney.
I only got her when she was in calf to her second calf and I don't know where she was born. I presumed all that you said in your first paragraph would be correct and she is a R5 and no previous health issues that I know of.
I live in Fairlie, South Canterbury. She has always had access to a mineral block but maybe that's not enough.

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2 years 11 months ago #554942 by Dr Spock
Replied by Dr Spock on topic Sick cow
No. The vet didn't suggest BVD. She didn't have a temperature or loss of appetite or discharges. Her milk production did drop but I put that down to the time of year.

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2 years 11 months ago #554943 by Dr Spock
Replied by Dr Spock on topic Sick cow
She has also had a course of Duoject-B. The hip clamps are literally only on her to lift her. Once she is standing she is away. It's like she's lost the muscle power to get herself up.

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2 years 11 months ago #554944 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic Sick cow
Thanks Ronnie, I knew bush disease was one or t'ther, just forgot which one. Last week my brother got the vet to look at one of his weaner calves that was scouring and unthrifty. He's a good vet and did a thorough check. Took a blood test for FE even though it is not so common in beef cattle (Due to the way they graze, ie not going out hungry from the cowshed and eating the grass low) but all negative. He gave a long acting anti biotic and anti inflammatory which helped, but he said he thought it might be poisoning from st. john's wort, which is in flower at the moment. I'd not heard of this before.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S
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2 years 11 months ago - 2 years 11 months ago #554946 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Sick cow
Your post reminded me of one of ours and eventually, I put her on the dog tucker truck. They called after opening her up back at the facility, she had a twisted gut. Nothing was ever going to fix that.

Johnes diarrhea is sometimes called ''shedding'' and it looks like a long row of spots/splatters along the ground. Not huge masses of faeces, but comparable in description to what happens to us when our body is trying to be rid of something.

I too would suggest getting bloods done quickly for mineral levels. You can also buy virbac Multi mineral over the counter which is what I use instead of lick blocks these days and is an injectible.

Shoof sells the belly strap if you know of a local retailer of shoof products. Our vets stock them.

Last year when one of my jerseys had a stroke, the vet was here and we used my hip clamps and one of those long tie-down straps you usually see on trucks and utes. I will try and find a photo of the setup as it is a great improvisation when ''needs must'' and as the vet was present, in the circumstances it was the best option to do.

Good luck! I hope the minerals work out for you. x
Last edit: 2 years 11 months ago by max2.

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