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HI, I'm Dr Steve. I am sorry to hear about your heifer's condition.
If the oats crop is pure and not containing a lot of weeds, it would be unlikely that this is a feed issue. Also if the oats are good quality and not drought or frost stressed.
Swollen legs, especially more than one leg can be a sign of circulation issues. With circulation problems, the blood is not being pumped efficiently throughout the body and can become backed up and will ooze the serum ( clear liquid) part of the blood out of the blood vessels and it will accumulate in the legs.
Some cows can be nrn with a heart defect and when they get old or big enough the heart can't pump efficiently and they can become like this. ANother more common problem I see is hardware disease. This is when a heifer will eat a piece of wire or nail and it pushes from the stomach through the diaphragm into the heart . This exposes the heart to bacteria and can cause a large abscess around or in the heart. This can affet the ability to pump blood. THis can be diagnosed by listening to the heart with a stethoscope. The heart rate will be elevated to 60-80 beats per minute or more and the heart beat can usually be heard in a larger area than normal. This may be best diagnosed by having your vet look at her.
The treatment for hardware disease is to put a rumen magnet into the rumen through the mouth using a pilling or balling gun. THis will latch onto the wire or nail and be heavy enough to pull the hardware back out of the heart. I also treat with antibiotic injections to kill the bacteria that are present in the heart.
I have also given IV lasix or furosemide to help remove the fluid from the heart. If there is no sure signs of hardware , I typically treat for it anyway just in case it is in the early stages.
I guess since this has been going on for so long, the heart sounds should be fairly obvious.
Does the swelling ever go out of the legs once she is up and eventually walking more normally?
Sorry ,I give the IV lasix to get rid of the fluid in the lungs not the heart.
The main problem is legs full of fluid
The best treatment would likely be the lasix/furosemide to get rid of the fluid, but the heart should be checked ouut to prevent the fluid from coming right back.
what are her chances with only antibotics
If there is an infection around the heart, the antibiotics should help kill the bacteria that cause the infection. The unknown is how much damage the bacteria have caused to the heart. Once the heart is better , the fluid may slowly be resorbed back into the bloodstream. This may take several weeks, but if she is eating ok and getting along relatively ok, it may be fine. The lasix will remove the swelling within just a few days, but if that is not available, antibiotics are much better than nothing,.
I hope this has helped. If it has would you please rate my answer. If you have more questions, please continue. Thanks for the question and good luck
Thank you , you have been a great help
Thank you Dr Osborne you were a big help, I rated you excellent !! Wendy Hansen