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Dr. Margo
Dr. Margo, Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 504
Experience:  12yrs mixed animal veterinarian
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We just lost a 2 month old heifer calf - started with a touch

Resolved Question:

We just lost a 2 month old heifer calf - started with a touch of scours and became paralyzed in the hind quarters. She ate and drank but when she was chewing the hay she would foam at the mouth. Now we have another calf with the same symptoms. What is the problem?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Margo replied 8 years ago.


When you say paralzyed does she have no sensation in her legs or tail?

If you pinch between her claws in the hind foot will she attempt to pull it away?


What color is her diarrhea?

What are you feeding her besides hay?

What are your calves vaccinated for?

Are their mothers vaccinated?

Do they get colostrum?


Dr. M

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Diarrhea is brown

Future Cow Calf Feed

Have not been vaccinated yet

Mothers are vaccinated

They received their mother's colostrom the first 4 days after birth and milk replacer after that

Expert:  Dr. Margo replied 8 years ago.


Can you tell me if they have feeling in their feet?

I am trying to deterimine if this is a profound weakness or true neurologic disorder.


Dr. M

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I had to go out to the barn - no she does not seem to have any feeling in her feet. She cannot even attempt to get up.
Expert:  Dr. Margo replied 8 years ago.


Are the calves born on your farm?

Are you having trouble with any other age groups?

Have you brought any new animals in lately?

Can you tell me what you vaccinate your cows for specifically?


I have to step away from my computer for about 30 minutes but I will look for your answer when I return.


Dr. M

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

The calves are born on our farm - no new animals have been brought in.

These two are the only ones so far. They are vaccinated with Brucella Abortus

Expert:  Dr. Margo replied 8 years ago.


Were these calves running a fever in the time that they were down?

Did you try treating them with any medications?


Dr. M

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No fever - the first calf we gave Nu-Flor and pink calf boluses. The one that is down now we gave Nu-Flor to this AM
Expert:  Dr. Margo replied 8 years ago.


Many cases of calf diarrhea (especially beef animals) are due to rotavirus, cryptosporidium, coronavirus and enterotoxigenic E coli. Once these animals get weak they will go down and are unable to get up. Some of this weakness is due to poor circulation by the heart and can account for what you are seeing.


The first thing you could do would be to get a fecal check done of the sick calves and a few of those not showing symptoms. Cryptosporidium is a type of coccidia.


Treat the sick ones with electrolyte supplements (many calf scour treatments available) and some type of sulfa antibiotic or penicillin. Tylan or sulfa tribrissen. Replacing the lost fluids and electrolytes is the most important thing you can do. If this is a virus then it has to run its course. Antibiotics will help prevent secondary bacterial infections but will not stop the virus. The virus will kill because the calf dehydrates and looses too many electrolytes.


You could also start giving your calves E coli antiserum when they are given the colostrum.


There are some vaccinations that can be given to the cows before calving and some that can be given orally to the calves as soon as they are born. These vaccines have a questionable effectiveness. Good sanitation can be more effective against coronavirus and rotovirus then some of the vaccines.


If you do not have a source of these type of medications you can look at some of the bigger online catalog companies such as


If I can answer anything else please let me know.


Dr. M



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I don't think it was the scours that put them down because the calves were both drinking and eating normally. They were not the severe white or clear scours and was more of a muddy texture.
Expert:  Dr. Margo replied 8 years ago.


Did you give any of the calves Bo-Se?

Do you have any?


Dr. M

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No - the calf is not going to make it through the night. She was eating at 1:00 PM this afternoon, drank water at 6:00 PM but wouldn't eat her feed. She is very lethargic. We have been milking and raising calves for 28 years with no hired or outside help and we have never had anything like this before and no one that we associate with has ever seen anything like it either. We will probably take a stool sample into the Vet for testing.
Expert:  Dr. Margo replied 8 years ago.


White muscle disease comes from a lack of selenium and vitamin E. This is a more common disease. The animal cannot use its muscles to stand and ultimately the muscle of the heart and diaphram fail and the animal dies.


A deficiency in copper can aslo account for being down. But it is more uncommon.


When you take in your sample in for testing ask your veterinarian about getting some Bo-Se and trying it on any calves that begin to even act weak.


Dr. M

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