Intereseting few days with a 4 month calf with neurological abnormality

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10 years 3 months ago #36985 by daerfamily
ON Tuesday morning we noticed one of our 4 month old calves just standing in the corner of the paddock mooing. He wouldn't follow the rest. After a while, he moved to start eating grass. By 1.45pm he was down, legs out, and eyes shut.

We force fed him 4l of electrolyte/water and forced him to stand, he fell over after 3 steps. We kept doing this until we had moved him away from the other cattle and into the shelter.

We gave him 4mL of penicillin.

On Wednesday morning, another 4l of electrolyte was tried, but to no avail. He had totally lost it mentally, like he didn't know what to do with himself. He could only stumble about, he lost vision and was just 'wandering' staggering through electric fences etc.

At 11am, 10mL penicillin given, 6mL thiamine injection and 6mL of anti-inflamm given. He stood in the SAME spot all day, head down. By night we tried to give him some fluid but all he would do was grind his teeth, so we poured it into his mouth and it just poured over the side.

I called vet, he said it may be MCF or just some brain infection causing nervous system damage. By the morning we expected him to be dead.

Thursday morning I got up early and he was in the shelter which we had gated shut, but standing. I gave him 2L of electrolyte and 2 L of water which he drank very very quickly! We let him out of the shelter and gave him handful of clover. He ate this. We kept feeding him grass by hand for a good half a day. In the afternoon he started ripping grass on his own.

Another 6mL of thiamine and 6mL of anti-inflamm. He started to drink on his own.

All I can say is that we are so glad we gave him the benefit of the doubt! We will give him another lot of penicillin tonight and keep him isolated as we still not sure he can see!

They are so incredibly durable sometimes!!!

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10 years 3 months ago #480757 by cowvet
#1 rule at this time of the year - depressed calf, neuro or dull signs...give B1 (thiamine) pronto. the longer you leave it the longer the recovery

it is to the point that I pretty much give nearly all sick/off colour young ruminants thiamine at this time of the year as it is one of the most common issues and progresses so rapidly.
Giving antibiotics complicates the issue as the pen will kill off the gut bacteria that actually produce the B1 (thiamine) so this can exacerbate their illness


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10 years 3 months ago #480762 by Ruth
Cowvet, how young? Or more particularly, until what age do you still consider them young for Thiamine risk? If you see one, is it likely you'll see indications in others? Or if you have one weird case and don't see any signs in any others, is it possible the one isn't Thiamine-related?

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10 years 3 months ago #480791 by cowvet

Ruth;484442 wrote: Cowvet, how young? Or more particularly, until what age do you still consider them young for Thiamine risk? If you see one, is it likely you'll see indications in others? Or if you have one weird case and don't see any signs in any others, is it possible the one isn't Thiamine-related?

stop asking questions - just give it thiamine!

Most of what we see is in recently weaned ruminants, although I have seen it in older/adult animals.
Usually associated with a change in feed, or in feed quality - associated with a change in the bugs in the rumen for whatever reason. Most of my dairy clients carry thiamine routinely. It usually pops up as one or two cases in a large mob but sometimes affects more animals and on an ongoing basis.

Probably one of the most common young stock ailment we see from about November to March...assuming they are on a good parasite and mineral management program.


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10 years 3 months ago #480815 by Crusha
Duoject, Cowvet?

Df, I had two calves, with symptoms very similar to those you have described. Injected with Duoject at 10mls initially then 5mls three hours later. Followed by 5mls every 3 to 4 hours thereafter. Noticed an improvement quickly after the first injection, but I reckon it was about three solid days before they were fully recovered. Went through 100mls of Duoject. I kept dosing them until I couldn't catch them in the yards. (About two days)

Just as CV described I had moved the mob from a paddock of Italian to a stalky older ryegrass paddock and within four days two of the youngest weaners came down with the symptoms you described.

It was pretty scary how quickly the condition came off of them, now looking almost as good as they did prior.

Our Vet Clinic reckons it is not uncommon at this time of year, but this year there has been quite a spike in the number of cases reported

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10 years 3 months ago #480827 by daerfamily
I did give it thiamine, I wrote that. I gave it 6mL the first day, 6mL the second day, and another 6mL yesterday.

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10 years 3 months ago #480828 by daerfamily
And I couldn't catch him yesterday in yards to inject it, we had to pull his ears he wouldn't go into the race even with a good shove from the rear! He now has white face and eating/drinking normally.

He is the only one with these symptoms.

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10 years 3 months ago #480829 by daerfamily
I am not wanting to sound awful here so sorry if I have! The thing is, he wasn't moved from another paddock, the grass is the same everywhere, and the thiamine didn't work as quickly as yours did crusha in fact it took a whole entire day for him to actually know what he was doing again! We still not sure he can see properly so we have left him in the yards overnight (it has grass in it) as we dont think we would have caught him today even though he is seperated from other cattle. Our vet said likely infection that has affected CNS, hence the day to start recovering. Anyway, whatever it was, he looks like he's going to be ok, though I am worried about moving him back with the 2 year olds .... give him a few weeks on his own or one other calf?

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10 years 3 months ago #480833 by Crusha
Df, if I gave the impression that the response to the Duoject was immediate and spectacular then I am sorry I have given the wrong impression. There was a noticible improvement in that the calf looked better but after three days one of them still appeared to have vision problems, which apparently is a classic symptom of Vitamin B deficiency.

It was a good week before that sign went.

By three days I was confident that they could go into a paddock on the their own and that both were eating well enough. If I recall the recovery rate for this type of deficiency can take from two to three days to over a week depending on the severity and individual animal.

Even in the paddock one of them did have that look that they could not quite see clearly it's hard to define or describe it's just the impression you get from watching the calf.

Change of diet is one possible factor it is not the only cause. These two were the youngest in a mob of over 35 and were the only two that demonstrated any symptoms what so ever.

If they are eating well and you can keep them on their own for a few more days I would not worry to much

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10 years 3 months ago #480939 by Barclay
Check your thiamine dose. 6ml doesn't sound much for a healthy calf.

Also- check about a new vet. Telling you "it will be dead by morning" isn't great work.

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10 years 3 months ago #480947 by cowvet

Crusha;484518 wrote:
Change of diet is one possible factor it is not the only cause. These two were the youngest in a mob of over 35 and were the only two that demonstrated any symptoms what so ever.

a change in diet also means that the pasture may change within the paddock they are already in - so although you do not move them the quality of the feed they are getting changes. It seems to often coincide with drying out/summer conditions.

B1 is manufactured in the rumen so anything that changes the rumen conditions can lead to the decreased production of thiamine, or the increased breakdown of it by other rumen bacteria.. If you want to be a purist then B1 deficiency is brought on by changes in rumen conditions....(this often means a change in diet/feed quality)


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10 years 3 months ago #480960 by daerfamily
The vet DID NOT SAY he would be dead, that is WHAT I THOUGHT would happen! Anyway, he is fine now, I was just saying that it was an interesting thing to see for me.

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10 years 3 months ago #480962 by cowvet

Barclay;484633 wrote: Also- check about a new vet. Telling you "it will be dead by morning" isn't great work.

I have used that quote on a number of occasions and then followed it up with a humane euthanasia to relieve the animal's suffering. It pays to be honest especially when an animal is suffering and there is nothing more you can do.
In saying that I have also talked a farmers out of shooting an animal and giving treatment a go - some things look worse than they are and usually respond well to treatment. Miracles still do appear to happen as most will attest to in the case of a thiamine response ;-) One of the few times that it looks hopeless and the animal responds and recovers like magic


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10 years 3 months ago #480965 by granny56r
Been an interesting topic for us...thanks all. Had a yearling that went down last week appearing to be nearly dead with neuro symptoms so vet called and IV B1 given, the vet likened the response as a Lazarus, amazing and speedy recovery with rest of mob treated next day.
Husband had given B1 IM while vet on the way. A happy day when an animal is saved.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
DOUGLAS ADAMS

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10 years 3 months ago #480970 by cowvet
just to reiterate that it is not an instant recovery but you should be seeing marked improvement within 12-24 hours. If the animal is blind then this can take a week or two for eyesight to improve so keeping them in a safe place in the interim is important.


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