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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21464
Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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Angus cow just had 4th calf on 6/6. calf in good shape

Customer Question

Angus cow just had 4th calf on 6/6. Bull calf in good shape as usual. She looked clean afterward. On 13th noticed her standing alone in shade. Herd and her calf 1/2 mile away. She looked okay but not anxious to move. Later she went 1/4 mile to water. Let her calf nurse there reluctantly. Morning of 14th she is dead. ?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Did she show any other signs? Discharges from the eyes, nose, or vagina?
Did she seem wobbly at all? Stiff? Weak?
Any skin changes?
Did you notice if her gums were pale?
Any blood from any orifice after she was dead?
Any access to toxins or dangerous plants (ie oak, ragwort, bracken, etc)?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hi again,
I did not hear back from you. Therefore, I do want to leave my thoughts based on your history for this lass.
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, this lass has given you very little to go on in determining what triggered her death. Therefore, I do have to say that an autopsy would be ideal here. This would allow us to diagnose the cause for her passing (via gross examination, microscopic tissue analysis, and testing of her mineral levels). This is something you can request of your local vet or consider submitting her body for analysis at your local vet lab, vet school, or agricultural college. This way we would have a definitive diagnosis and could assess if there is any risk to the calf or rest of the herd.
Otherwise, we can try and channel our inner Sherlock Holmes to determine the cause of death in an individual lactating post-partum cow. To start, the top concerns are going to be mineral imbalance. Crashes in glucose, calcium and magnesium secondary to her having poured her body’s resources into the calf and milk would top our list here. As well, though a bit delayed and therefore less likely, we’d have to think about post-partum infections, tears or torsions involving the uterus. So, those would be our most likely culprits for her sudden death.
From there, we’d of course need to consider issues that could induce sudden death in an individual animal no matter their reproductive state. This includes choke, hardware disease, heart failure, bloat, gut twist, a clot, or a perforating stomach ulcer.
Otherwise, considering issues that could also affect other stock, we have to make sure she had no access to toxic plants, moldy food, chemicals, heavy metals, or pesticides. As well, we’d also have to consider possible infectious agents. Those that would make our list here are the Clostridial bacteria (especially botulism), a virulent strain causing mastitis, salmonella, or pasteurella attacking her gut in her post partum weakened immune state.
So, those would be our main suspicions given what signs she did show. Again, if we wanted to narrow those down more, an autopsy and tissue analysis would be indicated to do so.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
Dr. B.
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