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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 505
Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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We have a vealer calf with a very swollen head - looked OK

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We have a vealer calf with a very swollen head - looked OK this morning - any ideas please
Hi there,

My first differential for a calf with sudden swelling is trauma. Is she housed separately or in a pen with other calves? I sometimes see the head swell when calves poke their heads through gates or fences and get stuck for a bit, but whether this is a possibility depends on your farm's housing situation.

Is the swelling in a discrete area, or is it her whole head? Individual swellings are often abscesses, and come up surprisingly quickly after something as simple as getting poked while eating a sharp piece of hay or forage. They usually need to be lanced and flushed (preferably by the vet) in order to heal up.

If she's eating and not having trouble breathing, I'd suggest giving her a day or two to see if the swelling comes down. If it's trauma, I'd expect her to get a little better day by day. If she's not eating, in distress, or the swelling is getting bigger, I'd suggest having the vet take a look. You can often get answers to what the swelling is by attempting to drain it with a needle, and at minimum the vet can give medication to decrease the swelling.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

she died before a vet could see her so we are none the wiser as to why this happened

I'm so sorry to hear that! Is there a possibility of having the vet do an autopsy/necropsy? It could help you protect your other calves if they find something.