You probably thought like we did, oh the cows should do great with calving this year since there was no drought this summer...…well....so far the cows are doing pretty good, but there are some problems with all of this rain and heat! With the increased heat the cows are lying under shade trees all day and the baby calves with their little newborn cords hanging down are lying in the mud and moisture with the mothers. Even if these calves get good quality colostrum there is a substantial bacterial load introduced into these young calves.
When bacteria enter the calf's umbilical area they sometimes just develop a swelling and localized infection, this is called "navel ill". Occasionally, the bacteria get in the calf's blood stream and make them very, very sick. And other times the bacteria gravitate to the joints and settle. This is called "joint ill" and can be crippling to calves. If you suspect you have a calf with any of these conditions contact your veterinarian for advice on treatment. The antibiotics required for treatment are very long courses of duration and sometimes need to be injected in the joint by a veterinarian.
How can you prevent navel/joint ill in calves:
* Dip navels on all newborn calves with 7%
tincture of iodine
* Spray newborn calves and their mother for flies
* Try to move cows that are making significant mud
holes to new areas, if possible
* Supplement colostrum in heifers or cows with bad
Symptoms to look for in calves with navel/joint ill:
* Swelling at the navel cord, sometimes with pus-like
* Lethargy (from fever)
* Swollen joints (usually the carpal joints "knees"
swell first, but not always)