Massive Bovine Mastitis – Treatment and Calf Plan
Hi, I’m Mike; Calving can be a time where it’s easy to get focused on just the calf and sometimes it’s easy to forget that mom is a top priority as well. today we’re gonna take drastic measures to ensure that both a calf and her mom survive on our way on the life. another portion of our family that is growing is right here in the pasture calves are being born at an average of about five to seven per day, in fact, yesterday I had 12 with Avery nice surprise that we’ll get to meet a little bit later.
calving is when you take it down to the basics and II complexify it and I know that’s not an areal word but I kind of like it. is simple a calf is born he or she gets upon its feet, takes its first steps those steps lead to mom’s utter, and the first drinks of life-sustaining milk.
If all of those steps happen, in that order then chances are much higher than a calf will not have any issues with life, it’ll continue on the ranch until it’s time for them to leave to head to auction then, to a feedlot and eventually; your plate, it’s when one of those steps is interrupted for some reason that problems start to happen.
First, a calf has to be born, but they can get stuck they can get turned wrong or even backward, luckily most of the time Burris happened without a hitch, Angus cattle are generally good birthers only two to maybe three percent of births have trouble with this stage, sometimes even less…
After the birth stage, we’re left with a calf on the grandmom will usually start cleaning off the calf right away and within minutes, the calf will start to try to stand.
This is where I like to interject myself into the equation, calves at this stage are much easier to tag and identify we get a look at them to make sure they have the right number of legs and a tail and make sure that all the other parts are present, and what it’s supposed to be on the inside is on the inside, what’s on the outside is on the outside.
Cold or wet weather; is the biggest damper to this stage, as moms could sometimes have trouble cleaning off, or drying their calf and warming them up enough, to actually get them to stand up, these calves will continue to lay on the ground, getting colder and colder… and eventually becoming hypothermic or what we call freezing down, those calves in that situation get a trip to the shop or the barn to warm up, either in a warmer or sometimes in a bath, depending on how cold they are.
But in normal birth, the calf will stand, and it’ll start to walk, and instincts will lead it directly as if by magic, to Mom’s bag and her udders.
As a cow midwife which is almost the most accurate description of my job, the cows’ bag are usually the biggest indication of impending birth, a week or maybe a few days before a cow gives birth her bag I’ll start to fill in.
It’ll appear more solid, the udders themselves will expand and hang lower, ready for that new calf to take its first drink Special milk that mom’s produced the beginning of lactation was called colostrum? bovine colostrum is produced the first few days after giving birth before true milk appears contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals…
Along with specific proteins called antibodies, that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses, needless to say; it’s almost imperative that a calf gets this first milk, it’s a vaccine for the calves given by mom, passing along her antibiotics at her immunities, and that can make the difference between life and death for that calf.
After the first few days a colostrum true milk arrives and a calf is on its way, to a long and healthy summer on the ranch, along with the other steps of Catholic having process there are things that can go wrong here as well although they are rare, they can be deadly. a mom with an infection of her own can pass that infection onto her calf, that calf will have no way to fight that infection and will most likely die without our intervention.
This week we’ve been dealing with a situation that luckily we were able to learn about before the cow even had her calf, a condition that precludes her from even being a mom this year and possibly for the rest of her life. Number 78 is a 10-year-old Black Angus Hereford mix, she’s one of those cows that’s always been in the background, but has never been the main player, today through fate she’s thrust forward in the herd; and becomes almost our sole priority she’ll be having her calf soon, and soon after we’ll have a bottle cap.
Number 78 as what can only be described as a raging multi quadrant case of mastitis; mastitis most commonly occurs in dairy cows, but of course it can affect all cattle, it develops when bacteria enter the teat canal, causing swelling and of course discomfort for the count, as she gets closer to calving it became apparent, that something wasn’t right, and the choice was made to let her have her calf before beginning treatment. when she did calves we tagged her calf but then brought it into the barn. Her calf would never be able to nurse from her. And if she did she would run the risk of contracting the infection as well.
The calf is dried off and given a colostrum supplement the closest that we can get to the real thing, and a vaccination to help give her the antibodies, that she’ll be missing from them all and once she’s situated, then it’s time to bring mom in and start her treatment. With the massive amount of swelling induced by recently having the calf, her udders are actually rubbing together, and causing obvious irritation for her even bleeding her treatment course will include a steroid anti-inflammatory, to hopefully start to reduce swelling, and an antibiotic to fight infection.
Antibiotics are something that is closely monitored on the ranch, not every sick cow or calf is going to get antibiotics, and it depends on what is ailing them. antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, mastitis is an infection caused by bacteria so is a pink eye or even infected wounds.
Penicillin or exceed is often used in these cases. antibiotics are not going to help with parasitic or viral infections, so it’s important for us to know; what is causing the infection, and then we can treat it correctly and safely for the animal. without over or useless medicating. She’s gonna receive her medications via injection, and once we have her in the barn we can move her into a headgate. and we can give her insurance ins there.
We try to give injections in what we call the injection triangle of the neck, we can only give ten cc’s of medication in each injection site so she’ll get multiple injections, as these medications are based on her weight and they are over 30 CC’s each, or one full ounce.
A cow in the headshot is noticeably nervous, and over the next few days she’s gonna get daily shots, so we want her to be as comfortable as possible. after she has her shots it’s into the corral, where she will wait out the results of her treatment, only a few feet from her calf.
Out in the pasture, more calves are being born and a busy day continues as the number of cows being born today reaches 12 matching our record for the number of calves born in one day, with the help of a set of twins counts by number 14. As with all twins born the ranch will help Mom out by taking care of one of them, for her now she’s already choosing which one she’s gonna take care, of the other one is left lying alone, we’ll take it into the shop and Kenzie helps it out in the calf wanna until it’s ready to join the other calf in the barn.
Now it’s number 50 for the orphaned twin, and 37 hanging out together in the barn. both now are responsibilities and neither, will be ever returning to their moms.
As the medication begins working on number 78, it’s easy to realize that even if we do take care of her infection and swelling she’ll never be able to take care of her calf. the infection could possibly return without us knowing until it’s too late, and for both her sake and her calves, the decision is made to keep her calf with us and let her concentrate on recovery.
Each day for the next five days she’ll be brought into the headgate, given her shots, and her udders will be checked for reduction and swelling. there’s no chance that milk will move through her system, her bag is rock-hard and although swelling is reducing, her prognosis doesn’t look good.
The determination is made with the help of our vet that her milk glands and memory tissues have probably been destroyed by the infection. our only course of action is to get her healthy, then we can either let her live on the ranch free of charge, or seller to an animal feed processor. it’s a sad end to a great mom but as always a part of the cycle of life here on the ranch. Once she’s through with her antibiotics and anti-inflammatories we’ll check her for further infection, hopefully, she’ll be cleared up then she’ll have a withdrawal period before we can sell her. but more than likely she will be going. This is really one of the parts of the job that I don’t like, but at the same time, all I have to do is walk across the bar, and see why it’s really worth doing.