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Old 31st October 2011, 07:06 PM   #1
hilldweller
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Cow losing weight - ideas?

I'm going to call the vet but unfortunately can't do that until later in the week. Guin, whose calf is now about 6 weeks, is scouring and losing weight. She looks happy enough, good appetite, cudding normally, but something's definitely wrong. Her calf is drinking everything she produces and looks OK but not blooming. He'd drink more if there was more I think.

Haven't struck this before. Any ideas? She's seven.
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Old 31st October 2011, 07:24 PM   #2
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Couple of things I'd check first. 1. Acidosis. 2. copper deficiency.

1. Will cause low fat production in the milk (leading to the calf not doing great) and is easily tested for. It also has a signature smell on the cows breath.
2. Copper deficiency is characterized by severe scouring and unthriftyness.
Have you got any hay on hand to give her more dry matter in her diet.?


Are you feeding her fermentable carbohydrates?
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Old 31st October 2011, 07:44 PM   #3
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Don't know, but can you please tell us what the vet says when you have the visit? Sounds rather worrying.

What do you know about her copper levels, worm burden, any past issues which might affect her mature health?
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Old 31st October 2011, 08:08 PM   #4
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Johnes - sorry but this would be my first thought for a cow of her age with diarrhoea and who is otherwise well?

Copper deficiency- also a possibility but usually we find it on routine testing rather than have diarrhoea of an adult animal as the first presenting sign

Worms -- not expected in a mature cow

Acidosis - unless you have changed her diet or added grains into the system without doing it gradually then I would not expect this on a pasture based cow

there are a few other gut infections but not really high on the list if she is well and it is only her affected.

I would definitely recommend a Johnes test if her faecal consistency is vastly different to the faeces of other cows on similar pasture.
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Old 31st October 2011, 09:08 PM   #5
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

I wondered about Johnes - what age does it generally start showing clinical signs?

Am I correct in presuming that a mature animal under immune system stress for some reason, might well succumb to internal parasites in a way she wouldn't normally have done?
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Old 31st October 2011, 09:28 PM   #6
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

I would have thought that 6 weeks after birth, any immune system depression caused by pregnancy would have gone.
hd, has the cow's condition changed since birth, or has it been gradually going downhill since the last calf left? (The vet might ask how sudden this change has been?).
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Old 31st October 2011, 09:32 PM   #7
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

I was not referring to pregnancy-related immune suppression.
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Old 31st October 2011, 09:46 PM   #8
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

HD, have no input at all as to what the matter might be other than to say wait for the vet and if it doesn't hit them in the eye, have a blood panel done.

Remember Hine when I first got her? Skinny, shat through the eye of a needle to the point it was green, bubbly water but produced heaps of milk after Simmy was born. Blood tests proved negative other than the fact that she was producing too many white blood corpuscles(sp?) The reason for using Hine as an example is that sometimes things are not as they seem and anything said on here would be at best, hit and miss given that your cow is 7 and. as I've seen her name come up in the past, has obviously kept good health until now.

I too would be interested in the outcome - and sincerely hope that it's nothing that can't be fixed.

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Old 31st October 2011, 10:29 PM   #9
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Another cause which usually shows up weeks after delivery,is hardware disease, that is when there is a foreign body inside her that she has ingested ,usually during pregnancy eg nails ,plastic etc ,usually after 4 weeks ,the cow is shitting like water and is very quickly loosing weight and condition.If it was a metal object that she had ingested,then a magnet would need to be inserted down her throat .
We have had several cases of hardware disease like this ,and when an autopsy was performed we found foreign bodies inside them plastic and nails ,.The latest case like this was about a year ago ,we performed a rumenotomy and removed the foreign bodies from her rumen.
Hopefully it might turn out to be something less drastic in your case ,but it fits the time frame ,for the above mentioned
Cheers
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Old 1st November 2011, 06:29 AM   #10
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
I wondered about Johnes - what age does it generally start showing clinical signs?

Am I correct in presuming that a mature animal under immune system stress for some reason, might well succumb to internal parasites in a way she wouldn't normally have done?
The youngest I have seen it in from memory is 3 years old but it is more usual to see it animal 5+

An animal under immune system stress is less able to deal with the parasites it usually encounters but we don't see this often. If parasite numbers were high enough to cause issues in a cow then i would expect some of the young stock having probs too.

lactation is a stress on an animal and as this one is only 6 weeks into it she is probably at her most vulnerable time - probably at her peak drain about now. Our weird weather has also been a major stress on some animals this year - from hot to blasting cold over the last few months.

Try to think of ''stress'' from the animals perspective rather than what you imagine it to be or think would be stressful to you
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Old 1st November 2011, 09:38 AM   #11
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Thanks CV.
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...Try to think of ''stress'' from the animals perspective rather than what you imagine it to be or think would be stressful to you
I hope I've been learning that one! Feed stress, or the stress caused by inadequate provision, is the biggest problem, it seems to me, on most NZ farms. Feed them well and they will withstand most things. Fortunately mine don't have to deal with snow.
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Old 1st November 2011, 11:00 AM   #12
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

K & P M - I undestood that the hardware went into the reticulum?
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Old 1st November 2011, 02:01 PM   #13
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Hi the hardware starts off in the rumen ,if it is large enough it stays there ,such as plastic ,which forms into a ball ,if it is a small sharp metal object it can pierce the walls of the rumen ,it can also pass thru the rumen into the next section ,If a magnet is placed into the rumen sometimes the magnet can pull the metal object back .However if it is plastic ,and becomes a ball ,then the magnet isnt going to be of any use
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Old 1st November 2011, 02:08 PM   #14
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

It is amazing what cattle can eat and survive. Our Highlander cross steers ate string, livestrand, and alkathene pipe with no apparent ill effects. Not saying that this is a good thing of course. It annoyed me greatly at the time.
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Old 4th November 2011, 11:45 AM   #15
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Thanks all for the posts. Vet has been and gone so now waiting for blood (and FEC) results. Johnes most likely, acidosis an outside chance. Copper deficiency unlikely as she's up to date with copper bullets; parasites also unlikely given her age and no previous problems. Could be something she ate Kevin and that would certainly explain why none of the others are affected but starting point is the bloods.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the acidosis as I think the problem started when she was on very lush pasture that included some young grasses oversown last year, and she doesn't seem to have got any worse this week since a move to a less rich paddock. She's now got unlimited hay. Appetite VERY good LOL! She's certainly not ready to lay down and die, though of course if it's Johnes that decision might have to be taken out of her hands.

I'm trying to get her calf to investigate a bucket of milk replacer. Advice gratefully received. He's six weeks old with no previous human contact other than tagging and ringing!
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Old 7th November 2011, 07:28 PM   #16
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Bugger it's Johnes. Need to talk with vet and work out what to do next and get my head around what, if anything, it means for the rest of the stock. Guin seems happy for now. She's light but not shockingly so and she's behaving normally so there's at least a little bit of time before anything drastic has to happen.

Not having much luck with the calf. I can't get him to suck a teat and he's too big and strong for it to be safe to keep trying. He's slurped a bit from a bucket and I've been offering it at regular intervals but he's not really interested. I probably need to get tough and get him really hungry. He seems to be getting enough from Guin that he's not looking for anything else, but it's not as much as he really needs.
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Old 7th November 2011, 07:49 PM   #17
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Sorry HD, that is bad news. Perhaps you could supplement the calf with some meal to help him.
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Old 7th November 2011, 11:06 PM   #18
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Bugger, sorry to hear that HD - and your the first person I've personally known of to have had this in their cattle.

Don't worry about the calf at this stage if he's happy with what he's getting from his mother. The chances of getting him to drink, at his age, from anything other than his mother are extremely limited so set yourself up to think calfateria reared calf in terms of age and weaning. An expensive option perhaps but can you run to a bag of - damn, can't remember what it's called. Haylage, baylage, sort of wet stuff that I bought for a cow one year all nicely wrapped in plastic and she wolfed it up. Do you know what I'm talking about - does anybody ever know what I'm talking about? If you can get the cow to start eating something of that nature the calf will start poking around in it too just because mum is. In the event of a sudden weaning he will have something other than grass to keep his appetite up.

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Old 8th November 2011, 05:45 AM   #19
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

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Bugger, sorry to hear that HD - and your the first person I've personally known of to have had this in their cattle.

Don't worry about the calf at this stage if he's happy with what he's getting from his mother. The chances of getting him to drink, at his age, from anything other than his mother are extremely limited so set yourself up to think calfateria reared calf in terms of age and weaning. An expensive option perhaps but can you run to a bag of - damn, can't remember what it's called. Haylage, baylage, sort of wet stuff that I bought for a cow one year all nicely wrapped in plastic and she wolfed it up. Do you know what I'm talking about - does anybody ever know what I'm talking about? If you can get the cow to start eating something of that nature the calf will start poking around in it too just because mum is. In the event of a sudden weaning he will have something other than grass to keep his appetite up.

Cheers,
Ronnie
So sorry to hear that HD ...you must be gutted ...the stuff Ronney is suggesting is now called Fibre Pro and the cows generally love it (I feed it to my horses) ...we used it when we were raising bull calves and they did so well on it so well worth a shot ...around $22 per bag at the stock shops...

Keeps us posted on Guin and son ....how do cows get Johnes?
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Old 8th November 2011, 06:09 AM   #20
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

My posted exclamation seems to have disappeared/not appeared - Damn! Well done for spotting it, but what a difficult outcome.
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Old 8th November 2011, 06:47 AM   #21
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Sorry to hear it is Johnes...not a good outcome
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Old 8th November 2011, 07:11 AM   #22
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

these is a pretty good site to find the answers to the questions around Johnes. my only comment is that it has been written with an emphasis on housed/intensively farmed animals so the bits about disinfection are largely irrellevant for NZ pasture based systems

http://johnes.org/general/faqs.html#1

Young stock pick it up via the faecal oral route
Infected animals shed huge amounts of bacteria into the environment, these bacteria can last for many months in the right conditions.
Recommendation for animals found to be infected is for immediate culling to minimise environment contamination and risk of infection of other animals.
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Old 8th November 2011, 07:18 AM   #23
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin and Perlita Morgan View Post
Another cause which usually shows up weeks after delivery,is hardware disease, that is when there is a foreign body inside her that she has ingested ,usually during pregnancy eg nails ,plastic etc ,usually after 4 weeks ,the cow is shitting like water and is very quickly loosing weight and condition.If it was a metal object that she had ingested,then a magnet would need to be inserted down her throat .
We have had several cases of hardware disease like this ,and when an autopsy was performed we found foreign bodies inside them plastic and nails ,.The latest case like this was about a year ago ,we performed a rumenotomy and removed the foreign bodies from her rumen.
Hopefully it might turn out to be something less drastic in your case ,but it fits the time frame ,for the above mentioned
Cheers
Kevin
Hardware disease is extremely rare in NZ due to the pasture based system. We often get foreign vets working in our practice who keep going on about it and looking for it...but never find one!

we are lucky - our pastures are relatively clean and the baling/contracting gear for stored feeds is relatively modern so the chance of metal getting into feed is low.
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Old 8th November 2011, 07:28 AM   #24
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

HD, what a blow of an outcome! I must read up on it myself-sounds from CV's post that the rest of your herd, including Guin's son are at risk. I wonder how it came into your herd-hope it wasn't that young bull you bought in?

We have a bag of Fibre Pro that somebody gave us. I fed a bit to the cow we took to the show last week, and her calf gave it an investigative nibble-she is 11 weeks old. Perhaps for a calf that isn't getting enough to eat as he would like, might be tempted to eat a bit?
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Old 8th November 2011, 10:32 AM   #25
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Re: Cow losing weight - ideas?

Hi HD very sorry to hear the outcome of the tests .

CV- Nz has good clean pastures etc ,plus the people or most of the people have discipline.In this country every thing that you buy ,ends up in a plastic bag for you to take away ,Lots of junk food and other ready to eat food goes into a plastic bag ,if you buy a soft drink it is poured into a plastic bag ,so the seller doesnt lose the bottle,being undisciplined once the person has eaten the contents of the plastic bag ,they just throw the empty plastic bag away ,with 75 million people throwing away their plastic bags ,it means that there are a lot of plastic bags lying around ,As people walk past our property they throw their bags over our fence .everyday we are picking up plastic bags .So hardware disease is fairly common here .Maybe the same applies in the countries where the visiting vets come from.
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