Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sick calf

One of the hardest parts of farm life is when animals get sick...and even worse, die.  I think in this case the worst won't happen.  I'm praying hard and my fingers are cramped from being crossed.  One of our new angus cow babies began to lie down much more often than the other calves about three days ago.  By evening the calf couldn't get up.

After doing some research on the web, my best guess was White Muscle Disease.  This is a nutritional deficiency where the cow is lacking selenium and vitamin E.  It happens when the animal is growing fast or just has no access to the minerals.  In our case, I believe it was the lack of access.  When we purchased the calves, they were emaciated.  They obviously hadn't been cared for appropriately and were sick with a respiratory virus.  I'm not surprised at all that one has succumbed to the neglect the poor things were exposed to.

Not getting enough selenium and vitamin E makes the calf very weak, their muscle wastes away and eventually die.  We've been feeding the sick calf (well, all the calves actually) a selenium and vitamin E supplement.  It appears to be recovering.  Today it really put some effort into trying to get up although it didn't succeed.  Hopefully tomorrow it will be standing.

Note: two weeks after it couldn't stand it is now running around perfectly healthy!