Calf stable, but won't stand? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread


Another update on calf - he's stable and is drinking one gallon of milk replacer a day and will eat a little hay - will not eat the calf starter at all unless we hand feed it to him (actually just put it in his mouth and keep him from spitting it out - so we have left that off for now). He isn't dehydrated anymore and is drinking between 2-4 pints of electrolyte water daily. Also getting regular water too.

Problem: calf still will not stand up. We are turning this calf every day, and picking him up once a day and trying to get him to stand, but he still seems too weak to do it. When we pick him up, he expells a lot of gas, then seems quite content to just lay back down and eat some hay. He gets bloated from laying down and eating..but he does seem to be putting on some weight (or just filling out from being dehydrated before). Have any of you cow folks ever heard of a calf getting up after being down for a week? He is pooping normally, we had to add some Karo syrup to his milk and he is no longer on antibiotics. I will give him another B-12 shot on Sunday, but other than that, he seems content to just lay there. He looks around, watches us, reaches for the water or the bottle, and acts normal. Just won't stand up. We thought about constructing a sling and hoisting him up, but aren't sure if we should or not. He will not put any weight on his feet when we pick him up. I can't continue to pick this guy up every day, as my back is now killing me from lifting him every day to turn him from side to side.

What are your experiences with a cow that's been down.

Thanks again,

-- Cindy (, December 26, 2001


Sure build a sling just don't leave him in for more than a hour. Getting the gas out is iomportant. Yes we've had calves cows lambs and sheep stay down for extended periods of time, and finally get on thier feet. The lifting will help. Try stretching his legs too, see if he'll pull them back. Did you get some selenimum or thiamin (B1)? A vitamin AD shot wouldn't hurt either. Poor little thing is going to be a pin cushion! I forget if you have a vet for him or not, but if you do you might ask about a Dexamethasone shot, but I'll bet it wouldn't help as much as all that. Is he anemic?

-- Ross (, December 26, 2001.

In addition to stretching the legs, you might want to massage the muscles.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, December 26, 2001.

I notice Ross suggests an A/D shot. I think this should be high on the priority list. I have had calves with weak legs respond to Vit. D shot as if it were magic. Just one shot, then repeat in about a week.

-- Dianne Wood (, December 26, 2001.

Pretty cheap to treat for White Muscle Disease, with Bo-se or Mu-se from the vet, also some big doses of E alone. Especially if the calf didn't get a good amount of real colostrum, or your milk replacer is an "all" milk replacer on the cheap side. If you have started hay that means the calf has started his rumen, might want to inocculate him with Probios, to get his rumen going better, this will get rid of the gas and stimulate his appetite. Then of course comes the conversation of how long are you comfortable with this level of maintenence. If you buthcered him now he would at least give you some meat, if he doesn't get up soon, he will die of pnemonia or some such illness which will make him unedible. More money of more antibiotics, it just goes on and on. Especially being male, unless of course he is a valuable bull candidate? Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, December 26, 2001.

Yes, a calf can be down for a LONG time. I had one break something (think it cracked a bone in the pelvis) by slipping and splitting herself on ice one year in November. I put her in her own stall and just took care of her as regular, and after several weeks she was on her feet again. It was not a quick recovery, but since calves are small, they can be down for extended periods, unlike a cow that cannot be down on one side for more than a few hours without suffering nerve damage (a cow weighs too much to be down for too long).

I don't think I'd try to pick the calf up if I were you. I'd simply make sure he is rolled from side to side periodically. I don't see any benefit to trying to get him on his feet if he's doing ok eating, drinking, etc. laying down. Seems to me he will either get up on his own, or he never will, but you breaking your back over trying to lift him isn't going to do either of you any good. Time is probably his best healer, and he has that on his side now that you've gotten him this far.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, December 26, 2001.

Thanks a lot for the advice. We are going to try the sling thing tomorrow, just to get him up and going a little. I sure did think he would eventually try to get up. The vet said that I am doing everything that can be done, except that he could go to the large animal hospital at the university and they would give him round the clock care. We just can't afford that. We were giving this guy a chance, which is a heck of a lot more than he was going to get, but this calf is not even purebred so no chance that we would keep him a bull. He'd just be a steer around here.

I did give the calf some probios and he got scours bad (I mean the worst stinky mess I have ever dealt with, which then put him back a full day on recovery). How much do you give a 150 lb. (I think he may be up to 160 something now). We were told to give him 15 ml (on the dial up applicator, this stuff is a gel type). Was that too much? I haven't given him any since last Thursday. The milk replacer he is on is a complete replacer (it has a load of vitamins - minerals and an anti scour antibiotic in it.) What is white muscle disease and do they recover? The calf was walking around when we got him (but stumbling and falling down from weakness and dehydration).

again, thanks to everyone.

-- Cindy (, December 26, 2001.

White muscle disease without getting technical is a deficency in selenium. The BoSe or MuSe would be good sources for it. The animal needs vitamin E to use the selenium, it's in all the Selenium meds in Canada and I have to assume it's in the American stuff too. Trouble with E is it is also a preservative and is used as such in some meds (Vitamin ADE comes to mind, the E present is pathetic). I kind of doubt he would have improved from his worse state if he really was selenium deficiant. The stuff is also toxic in high doses so proceed with caution. This guy had worms right? Are his gums very pale? The veins in the whites of his eyes very hard to see? If it's been 14 days since his last worming do it again. An iron suppliment might help if his gums eyes etc, show anemia. Butchering for meat is going to have to wait, you overdosed the tetracycline so (I think the USA is the same as here) there's a 35 day withdrawl from his last shot of tetracycline at least, plus what ever else he's had if it's greater than the 35 days. You weren't going to but if you change your mind, 160 pounds isn't much on a calf. If he's scouring on probius you won't want the Dexamethasone, the chance of cocci spreading is too great. Take it slow, I doubt your vet is very wrong; there isn't a lot more to do.

-- Ross (, December 26, 2001.

Could the anti-scour antibiotic in your milk replacer be killing off the intestinal flora? Chickens, cats, and people here get acidophilus if "loose" or gassy. Available at health food stores or at web vitamin shops, I've never tried it on a calf. Sure works on every other kind of critter.

-- Nina (, December 27, 2001.

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