Farmer Kitty

Let's Talk Cows

Misc. Cow Info

f you have info you would like added please submit it to Farmer Kitty.


Scours are the diarrhea in calves. Scours can be caused by bacterial, viral, and enviromental conditions. Treating scours with an antibiotic if it's not caused by bacterial just produces bugs that are antibiotic resistant so, please becareful in your treatment.

First, you need to do a supportive thereapy.

1. Vitamins and electrolytes.

2. A probiotic-Some use live culture plain yogurt. I use Probios. It comes in many different forms and is easy to store and have on hand.

3. A plugger. If the calves scours are in a liquid form you need to use something to gel or solidify it in order to help prevent dehydration. I use Deliver which gels their manure and I've had really good results.

4. I also will use Raw Apple Cider Vinager with the Mother. (Wal-mart does not sell this.) It helps create an enviroment that the bugs can not live in.

Second, you need to figure out what is causing the scours.

1. Enviormental-Are the calves wet? Wet conditions produce all sorts of illnesses. Add bedding and get/keep them dry.

2. Viral-Calves can get different bugs that will cause scours-just as we get different bugs that cause diarrhea. Here you mostly need to support them and treat them for their symptoms. One of the more common viral indictors is the manure will look "sour". This I use peptol bismal for. There is a calf version sold but, I like to use the peptol tablets. Place it in the back of their mouth and usually they will chew &/or swallow it. Calves love to suck even when they don't want to drink their milk so this works great.

3. Bacterial-This is where you use antibiotics. I have used many things and will list some I've found to work but, each farm/place is different and different bacterial will react different.

a. Penicillan- 10cc for a 100-115 pound calf once a day until symptoms clear-usually only a couple days.

b. Neomycin Sulfate (commercial grate) Antibacterial (NeoVet)-follow label directions.

c. Oxytetracycline HCI 500mg (Oxy 500 Calf Bolus)-follow label directions.

There are many more out there these are just what I have found to work for us.

Some products say to withhold the milk/milkreplacer from them for a certain time but, our vet says no they need the nutrition and energy they provide to help fight the scours. I keep ours on their milk/milkreplacer. If you are worried about dehydration give a pail of water on the side.

From Merck Veterinary Manual-      I'll add my comments to each category in lt. blue.

Bloat is seen when gases are produced in the rumen in too great quantity or the animal is not able to get rid of such gases as rapidly as they are produced. In either situation, the accumulation of gases causes inflation and swelling of the rumen, which is visible on the animal’s left flank. Bloat can be seen in cattle grazing lush, young legumes or in those fed large amounts of concentrates. Whereas legume bloat may kill cattle within hours, feedlot bloat develops slowly over weeks and often becomes chronic. Bloating needs to be reduced or it can kill the animal. Walking, a bloat meds (or soapy water), putting a tube down their throat to release the air are various common ways to handle bloat. You can feed hi magnesium mineral so help prevent bloat when turning out onto pasture especially, wheat, rye, and clover. Start it 3 weeks in advance. Also turn them out with a full stomach of what they are use to so they don't over eat on the green stuff.

Fat cow syndrome can be recognized by the presence of very fat cows among the dry cow group. It is characterized by inappetence, reduced milk production, and extensive loss of condition. Measures to reduce the incidence include avoiding overconditioning of cows during late lactation and the dry period and formulating rations that maximize feed intake after calving. Can lead to other ailments which can be fatal. Watch the body condition of the animals and don't overfeed.

Ketosis is usually characterized by a dullness, typically during the first 6 wk after calving, and is seen primarily in dairy cows. Occasionally, such cows are highly excitable and blood glucose is decreased, whereas ketones and free fatty acids are increased. It is proposed that the major causative factor is an inadequate supply of glucose precursors to maintain adequate blood glucose levels. Cows with Ketosis either pick at their feed or go off feed. There is a different smell to their milk and if severe enough the cow will smell too. There is an IV product or an oral gel product that can be used to treat ketosis.

Mastitis—inflammation of the mammary gland—is almost always due to the effects of infection by bacterial or mycotic pathogens. Pathologic changes to milk-secreting epithelial cells from the inflammatory process often bring about a decrease in functional capacity. Depending on the pathogen, functional losses may continue into further lactations, which impairs productivity and potential weight gain for offspring. Although most infections result in relatively mild clinical or subclinical local inflammation, more severe cases can lead to agalactia or even profound systemic involvement resulting in death. Mastitis has been reported in almost all domestic mammals, as well as humans, and has a worldwide geographic distribution. Climatic conditions, seasonal variation, density and housing of livestock populations, and husbandry practices may affect the incidence and etiology. However, it is of greatest frequency and economic importance in species that primarily function as producers of milk for dairy products, particularly dairy cattle. Signs of mastitis is usually small particles or stringy yellowish chunks of stuff in the milk when you start their milk at milking time &/or  hard hot quarter(s). If left it can progress to watery milk. Stipping the quarter helps but most of the time you may need to treat the cow with mastitis treatment. Mastitis can occur in a dairy, beef, dairy/beef cross, goats, etc. Any animal that gives milk can get mastitis.

Milk fever is characterized by low blood calcium and paralysis and is usually seen within 48 hr after calving in cows beyond their first lactation. High-calcium intake during the dry period increases the incidence; limiting calcium intake before calving but increasing it at calving time decreases the incidence. Signs-Early-cow is unsteady on her feet. If you push her gently on the side she wobbles. Later-down and can't get up. real droopy looking. She will need to be given calcium. There are products that can be given IV in the vein or there are gels that can be given orally.

Retention of fetal membranes, or retained placenta, usually is defined as failure to expel fetal membranes within 24 hr after parturition. Normally, expulsion occurs within 3-8 hr after calf delivery. The incidence in healthy dairy cows is 5-15%, while the incidence in beef cows is lower. The incidence during lactation is increased by abortion, dystocia, hypocalcemia, twin birth, high environmental temperature, advancing age of the cow, premature birth or induction of parturition, placentitis, and nutritional disturbances. This is also referred to as not "cleaning". The new thinking here is to leave it alone or cut off the placenta that is hanging. You will need to watch for a uterus infection as these cows are more prone to them.

Udder edema, characterized by excessive accumulation of fluid in the intercellular spaces of the udder and in areas forward of the udder, usually develops at calving time. The causes are not well understood, but a reduction of blood proteins at calving time seems to reduce the incidence. Some studies have indicated that a high intake of sodium chloride may increase the severity of the condition.

Coccidiosis is commonly a disease of young cattle (1-2 mo to 1 yr) and usually is sporadic during the wet seasons of the year. “Summer coccidiosis” and “winter coccidiosis” in range cattle probably result from severe weather stress and crowding around a limited water source, which concentrates the hosts and parasites within a restricted area. Although particularly severe epidemics have been reported in feedlot cattle during extremely cold weather, cattle confined to feedlots are susceptible to coccidiosis throughout the year. Outbreaks usually occur within the first month of confinement. The incubation period is 17-21 days.
The most typical syndrome is chronic or subclinical disease in groups of growing animals. Calves may appear unthrifty and have fecal-stained perineal areas. In light infections, cattle appear healthy and oocysts are present in normally formed feces, but feed efficiency is reduced. The most characteristic sign of clinical coccidiosis is watery feces, with little or no blood, and the animal shows only slight discomfort for a few days. Severe infections are rare. Severely affected cattle develop thin, bloody diarrhea that may continue for >1 wk, or thin feces with streaks or clots of blood, shreds of epithelium, and mucus. They may develop a fever; become anorectic, depressed, and dehydrated; and lose weight. Tenesmus is common. During the acute period, some cattle die; others die later from secondary complications (eg, pneumonia). Cattle that survive severe illness can lose significant weight that is not quickly regained or can remain permanently stunted. Calves with concurrent infections (eg, coronavirus) may be more severely affected than calves with coccidia infections alone. In addition, management factors, such as weather, housing, feeding practices, and how animals are grouped, are important in determining the expression of clinical coccidiosis in cattle.

Drugs that can be used for therapy of clinically affected animals include amprolium (10 mg/kg/day for 5 days) and sulfaquinoxaline (6 mg/lb/day for 3-5 days). Sulfaquinoxaline is particularly useful for feedlot cattle that develop bloody diarrhea after arrival. For prevention, amprolium (5 mg/kg/day for 21 days), decoquinate (22.7 mg/45 kg/day for 28 days) and lasalocid (1 mg/kg/day to a maximum of 360 mg/head/day), or monensin (100-360 mg/head/day) can be used. The major benefits of the coccidiostats are through improved feed efficiency and rate of gain.

End Merck Vet Manual info.

A tip for breaking a cow that kicks during milking: (by Farmer Kitty)

Try putting a halter on her and pull her head around to the side that you are milking her on. Tie the halter to her hind leg. Cows kick out backwards before they kick forward and this jerks them and helps break the habit. If the halter doesn't work then you can try a nose leader.

To dry a cow off: (Farmer Kitty)

Take the grain and high quality of feed away a couple days before hand. Then when you are ready to dry her off, milk her out like normal. Then strip her and dry treat her with a dry treatment such as Tomorrow (there are many brands). You should dry a cow off 6-8 weeks prior to her freshening date.

Info on a cow's stomachs:

Explaination about why we feed calves grain by WildRoseBeef:

From an Animal Scientists' perspective (at least an undergrad An Sci's perspective), grain is best for developing the calf's rumen.  In comparing milk, grass (or hay) and grain, grain is the feedstuff to use because of its energy and protein content which aid in developing rumen microflora and the lining of the inside. Ever seen the inside of a rumen? It looks like shag rug, with these papilleae (not cillia, like that found in the small intestine) for absorption of nutrients and other functions.  Grain is also more coarse than grass or hay or milk, which also helps in getting the rumen to really start working, contracting and building in size as the calf grows.


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