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July 20, 2009

A Calving Call

Last week, Dr. McGraw received a phone call from a frantic, crazy woman who said her first-time heifer was calving and that she (the heifer) had been up and down pushing for 1 1/2 hrs with nothing to show for it. So, Dr. McGraw made a quick trip home to placate the frantic, crazy woman and to check one of her (and his) cows. (Yes, the crazy woman, his wife -- a vet herself-- could have checked that heifer, but she didn't have any chains or calf-puller at her disposal, and besides that she likes to see her husband come home in the middle of the day--any excuse is a good excuse!)

"Luna" the cow had been off by herself all morning, getting up, laying down, trying to find a place to get away from all the strange pain and discomfort she had been feeling. I had been watching her carefully since this was her first time calving. I was sure she had been in active labor for 3 hrs and pushing for 1 1/2hrs, and I had not seen any evidence of the amniotic sack rupturing or any feet sticking out, I gave Dr. McGraw a call to see if he could come out and check her. She was a raised as a bottle calf so she is still very tame -- he was able to walk right up to her and check her.

The amniotic sac ruptured as he palpated and he was able to feel front feet and pull them out part way. When the sac ruptured, we could tell that the amniotic fluid was filled with {meconium} -- a sign that the calf was under stress. The calf was moving its feet though so we could tell it was still alive. Luna was trying hard to push with every contraction, but she wasn't getting very far even with help, so Dr. McGraw ran back to his truck to get the chains.

Notice the double wrap on the chains -- this helps alleviate any damage that the chains might cause on the legs when the calf is being pulled.


No luck! Together, man and beast can only get the calf out as far as it's nose.

Time to get out the calf puller. Hang on there little calf!

A few contractions and a few ratchets on the calf puller and the calf is out. Yeah!
Ummmm.... the photographer forgot to take pictures while the calf was coming out. Sorry!

Hello little lady. So glad you could join us. Did you know that you are covered in poo?

Luna, meet your baby. Clean her up real good. This right here is the cause of all your discomfort and pain.

Enough cooing. Dr. McGraw has work to do. He checks to make sure all 4 quarters are opened up, and then he is back to the clinic. Thanks Dr. McGraw!

Within 10 minutes of being born, the calf is already trying to get up and find the milk bar. It amazes me everytime how quickly a calf goes from being in the water world of the womb to terra firma and walking on legs that have never stood before in just a matter of minutes.

Look at that calf go! Just hours later she is kicking up her heels. Would Luna have been able to have her calf on her own? Probably. Hopefully. But it would have been quite awhile later and the calf may not have faired so well had the labor gone on for much longer.

July 15, 2009

AVMA Convention

Last weekend, Dr. McGraw and myself attending the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention in Seattle at the Convention Center. As part of our quest as veterinarians to keep up with changing techniques, diseases, and pharmacology, we attend continuing education meetings every year. The AVMA is the national organization for veterinarians. The organization does more than just collect dues, it is a political base for lobbying for the profession and for animals.

As you can see in the above photo, the meetings were packed. Every lecture that we attended there was standing room only. We learned many new things, refreshed our memories on old things, and saw some vet school classmates. The meetings were nicely organized and the material was relevant to everyday practice -- I like continuing education that is ready to be applied when you walk out the door and into your practice.

July 01, 2009

Fly Control

Tis the season for flies -- flies feeding on your cattle, flies biting on your horses, and flies munching on your picnic. Flies are nasty and a nuisance, but why should you be concerned about controlling them on your livestock and horses? Let's make a list.

  1. Flies spread diseases such as pink eye and upper respiratory viruses in cattle. Horse flies are reported to be one of the major vectors in the spread of Equine Infectious Anemia.
  2. Flies lay eggs which turn into maggots in a wound or moist area on an animal. These maggots can cause major infections in the skin and deeper tissues if not treated.
  3. Bot flies or heel flies lay eggs on the legs of cattle and horses that are ingested by the animals and then the larvae travel through the body causing damage and can eventually rupture out through the skin (makes you cringe). Another type of fly lays eggs that hatch and burrow into the skin causing "pigeon breast" in horses.
  4. Flies bite the ventral thorax and abdomen of cattle and horses causing "summer sores." These are raw, irritated, and tender areas. Horses get bites in their ears causing them to be bloody and tender, and thus making them more head shy.
  5. Bites from many flies causes generalized annoyance and decreased milk production in cattle.
  6. Do we need to continue?

So what do we recommend for treating flies in cattle and horses? Well, our preferred fly control in cattle is Ultra Saber. It is a pour-on product that can last 1-3 months depending on the amount of precipitation that we get. We just treated our cows with it two weekends ago and they are fly-free right now. Great product and a great price (under a $1 per head).

For horses we recommend Equi-Spot. This product is also a pour-on type application that lasts 2-3 weeks depending on precipitation and sweating. This 3-pack costs under $10. Many people ask about fly sprays. They work OK, but you have to apply them daily for the best fly control.

Bottom-line, fly control is important not only for your picnic, but for your livestock and horses as well. Have a great 4th of July!