American Dexter Cattle Association

The Vet's Corner
by Chris Odom & Dr. Laird Laurence, DVM

The Vet's Corner was a section in our Dexter Bulletin. Much of the content was contributed by the late Chris 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.

Q: 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.

Q: What causes mastitis and how do we treat it? What is the worst type and why is it so hard to treat?
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 individual severity.

Q: 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.

Q: Is repeated TB testing detrimental to the animal long term?
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.

Q: 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.

Q: Should my cows be inoculated against rabies?
A: Cattle can be infected with rabies; in areas of high incidence of rabies, inoculation should be considered.

Q: 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.

Q: Explain NeoSporum Canus and the after effects of vaccination; will future calves suffer neurological side effects?
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 (1-800-992-8051)

Q: 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.


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American Dexter Cattle Association

1325 W Sunshine #519
Springfield, MO 65807

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