by Chris Odom & Dr. Laird
Vet's Corner was a section in our Dexter Bulletin.
Much of the content was contributed by the late
Odom. Dr. Laird Laurence, DVM also contributed.
The views and opinions contained in "Vet's
Corner" are not necessarily those of the
ADCA. The ADCA encourages you to always seek
professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment
from qualified veterinarian in your area.
Q: When and Why should hooves be trimmed?
A: Hooves should be trimmed at anytime
they impede the mobility (walking) of the animal.
In some areas of the country, due to wet muddy
conditions, the hooves won't wear down naturally
and should be trimmed.
What is udder edema, how do I prevent it and
what is the treatment?
A: When the cow's udder is gearing or bagging
up for milk production the bag will sometimes
swell and the tissue in front of the bag will
swell all the way to the front legs in the most
severe cases. It is treated with dexamethasone
and diuretics after the calf is born. Dexamethasone
may cause premature labor so you must be extremely
careful when using this drug. Always consult
your local vet for treatment protocol.
What causes mastitis and how do we treat it?
What is the worst type and why is it so hard
A: All the word mastitis means is inflammation
of the udder. It can be due to mechanical damage
(i.e. the bag rubbing against the back legs
- a kick injury to the bag from another cow),
fungal causes or bacterial infection. The worst
kind is coliform mastitis, which is caused by
bacteria found in manure. Symptoms are the bag
will have a blueish tint and be cold to the
touch - if you experience this call a vet immediately
as the cow can die within 24 hours. Needless
to say, this is a life threatening situation
and must be treated very aggressively with injections
of antibiotics, inflammatory drugs and antibiotics
in the udder through the teats. Please consult
your vet for specific protocol based on the
What problems occur when the tail head is set
too far forward?
A: The anus will be set in and fecal matter
will fall over and into the vagin which can
set up an infection that will cause the cow
to breed back slower or not at all.
Is repeated TB testing detrimental to the animal
A: No. There is no documented cases of residual
effects in prolonged testing. Most all states
require TB testing for interstate shipment of
cattle. Some states have TB free status at this
time. The second part of this question is requirement
of test before purchase in the same state. As
in any sale it can be requested by the purchaser,
but the purchaser may have to pay for it.
What is the difference between 5, 6, and 10
way vaccines and when should you use what?
A: All contain black leg vaccine and combinations
of other vaccines that effect respiratory and
reproductive diseases. Depending upon your individual
locale, your personal vet will know which your
cattle need to be protected against.
Should my cows be inoculated against rabies?
A: Cattle can be infected with rabies; in areas
of high incidence of rabies, inoculation should
Is DE (diatomaceous earth) a good wormer? What
is a good anthelmentic? How often should I deworm?
Should I alternate dewormers?
A: There is no scientific data showing DE to
be a good dewormer. Deworming trials using DE
checked fecal samples over several months and
it made no difference. Most commercial dewormers
work well. The pour-ons (no matter the brand)
miss about 20% of the worm total population.
It is therefore better to use oral or injectable
dewormer. As for timing of wormings, as soon
as possible after the first good frost in the
fall and in the spring 6 weeks after the grass
greens up. If you live in an area of the country
i.e. south Florida, south Texas or southern
California with no freezes contact your local
vet for proper timing. I personally use an oral
in the spring for the best results as worms
are associated with green pasture grasses and
in the fall I use a pour-on to alternate. This
is my personal preference.
Explain NeoSporum Canus and the after effects
of vaccination; will future calves suffer neurological
A: It is a naturally occuring intestinal parasite
(coccidian) present in all canines. NeoSporum
Canus is found in dogs, coyotes and fox. Anywhere
these animals leave excrement, and it is ingested
by cattle, they can abort. After cattle are
vaccinated, there are no problems of carrying
full term in the future and no documented evidence
of neurological damage to future off-springs.
They will titer suspect in future toxic screens,
so you should keep accurate records for possible
future owners. The vaccine manufacturer, Intervet,
has a toll free number for other specific questions
I have a 3 year old heifer who has filled her
udder with milk but by palpation does not have
a calf. What are the signs/steps in the growth
cycle of a calf born by a Dexter?
A: Gestation for Dexters is the same as a regular
size cow (i.e. 9-9.5 months gestation). There
are certain grasses and weeds that contain a
lot of estrogen (called phytoestrogens) and
eating these plants can cause the bag to swell.
Another possibility is this could also be from
mating a chondrodysplasia carrying cow to a
chondrodysplasia carrying bull producing a bulldog
calf. I have personally witnessed two of these
and within 2 hours the buzzards had completely
devoured the entire calf as there is minimal
bone structure. You might want to test your
bull for the chondro gene to ensure this is
not the problem.