Friday, May 19, 2017

Still down

The calf that got chilled yesterday and couldn't get up is still down.

It's a bit of a puzzle. I was worried about selenium deficiency yesterday which can present some of the same symptoms. In general, though, the symptoms are more severe if it's a problem with selenium. That condition is more properly called WMD or White Muscle Disease and is caused by a selenium deficiency. In WMD both skeletal and cardiac muscles are often affected and the prognosis is grave.

Selenium deficiency is caused by a diet lacking in the key mineral. We don't have that problem on our ranch or, really, in our region. Plenty of selenium in our soils, which is taken up by the grasses that the cows eat. In fact we have enough selenium in our soils that some plants concentrate the mineral at toxic levels. Milk vetch and locoweed are a couple of examples.

So we shouldn't have this problem, yet all of our cows are new to us this year, having been purchased in January and February. It's possible that some of the cows may be deficient.

That's unlikely, though, at least so far as selenium goes. The calf's symptoms are wrong, and we would have expected to have more problems.

It is possible that this particular cow was somewhat deficient in multiple trace minerals, including selenium as well as zinc and copper and manganese. A broad spectrum deficiency can cause problems with coordination and muscle strength and control.

It's also possible that the calf became very low on glucose and electrolytes, and becoming chilled exacerbated the problem.

As with a lot of things in nature's reality, it's probably not just one thing, but rather, a combination.

Although the calf can't get up at the moment, she's bright and alert and she's not sick from a viral or bacterial disease. That's good.

The treatment now is going to be supportive. I gave her a multi-vitamin shot which included selenium, manganese, zinc and copper. I'll keep tube feeding her milk replacer and mix in some electrolytes. Then we wait and see if she becomes able to get up or not.

She's trying to get up, and trying pretty hard. That's a good sign too.

We'll just have to see how it goes.

Meanwhile, outside...


  1. Ooh, white stuff. Saw a bit of that in southern New Hampshire last Sunday. Global warming neh?

    Good luck with the calf, prayers will be offered, knowing full well that what is to be will be. It's Nature's way.

  2. We've had snow into mid-June before. Not often, mind you, but it happens.

    Thanks. We'll see what happens. She's got a good chance but you never know.

  3. You and those in your care are in my thoughts and wishes for a good outcome.

    As for snow, did the photo show the extent of it or was there more after you took that shot? As you said previously about snow vs rain, that makes it a good thing, ( to quote OAFS ) neh?

    1. Thanks Paul. There was about three inches after, and we're looking at more tonight. This time of year it's a blessing as it goes right into the ground and also doesn't soak the cattle as much as straight rain. This should ensure good grass for most of the season.

  4. Good grass for most of the season should make part of your life less stressful.