(Dr. Dan Thomson) Folks, welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here. We’re going to have a great show today. We’ve got Dr. Dave Rethorst from Beef Health Solutions, which is a local veterinary clinic that also does some consulting nationally on preventative health. We’re going to talk about calf scours prevention and treatment.
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(Dr. Dan) Dr. Rethorst, welcome to the show. (Dr. Dave Rethorst) As always, good to be here, Dan. (Dr. Dan) Folks, this is my good friend Dr. Dave Rethorst who is a veterinarian and is the owner and operator of Beef Health Solutions. Dr. Dave, just talk to me a little bit about what your company is doing and the services that you’re providing. (Dr. Dave) Well, Dan, we’re providing traditional veterinary services to an extent in the Manhattan area and some outlying areas. As you well know, my mantra is prevention and what we can do to prevent things. One of my favorite slogans recently is ‘because nutrition matters.’ The health of our calves starts when we turn that bull out. It starts at conception. What we do during pregnancy impacts the lifetime health and performance of that calf and we don’t need to be using more vaccines and more antibiotics as a crutch. We need to figure out where we’re messing up in management. That’s what I’m trying to do, we’re providing traditional services and testing bulls and preg-checking cows, but I want to get back to what are we doing to prevent things. Let’s cut down on our antibiotic use; let’s improve our animal welfare. (Dr. Dan) You bet. Well, you’ve always done a great job with it. I mean your leadership within the veterinary profession and the care that you provide clients. It’s going to be fun to walk with you and grow this company and watch where it goes because folks, it’s going to go big, big places. We’re going to talk about calf scours, which you kinda let it slide right into this. (Dr. Dave) Absolutely. (Dr. Dan) Just talk a little bit about some of the things that in general, we have different types of bugs that cause calf scours, right? (Dr. Dave) Right. We’ve got bacteria; we’ve got viruses – (Dr. Dan) Parasites. (Dr. Dave) – parasites. All sorts of things cause calf scours but usually that’s an indication we’ve got something wrong in the management system. If we dig deep enough, we’ll find something wrong. We’ve got E. coli; E. coli can show up in a 24-hour-old calf and extend on for a couple of weeks. Our viruses, Rota and corona virus don’t show up till 7 to 10 to 14 days of age and are protracted just because they destroy the epithelium at the gut. They can’t absorb fluids. We’ve got salmonella that’s becoming a big thing. We’ve got all kinds of bugs out there but it’s an indication that something else is going on. (Dr. Dan) When you’re looking at that calf that’s got scours, what are some of the things that you use to grade the clinical science on the severity? (Dr. Dave) Depression, if they’re really depressed. Dehydration if that eye is sank back in their head. Just attitude, have they nursed, is mama’s bag full and things like that. (Dr. Dan) Not only the diarrhea but depression, anorexia, weakness, just general malaise and things like that. If we do that, then we’ve got to get him in. Folks, one of the things we’re going to talk about here as Dr. Dave talks about prevention and moving forward, we’re going to talk about some diagnostics next. Thanks for watching DocTalk.
(Dr. Dan) Hey folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Dave Rethorst and we’re friends and colleagues and veterinarians. Dr. Dave now has a company providing traditional veterinary services along with some of the preventative medicine services for cowherds locally and cowherds around the country. Beef Health Solutions is the name of that. Dr. Dave, talk to me about — Okay, when we get into a wreck with E coli, salmonella, Rota, corona, what are some things that you’re going to do as a veterinarian and as far as diagnostics to — what kind of samples are we going to send in and what kind of tests are we going to ask for? (Dr. Dave) Okay. First of all, on diagnostics, I want to get a good history of the herd. I want to see what the herd looks like, what the environment looks like. Then we’re going to, obviously if we’ve got dead calves, we’re going to get good specimens, get them into the diagnostics lab, get some culture work done. (Dr. Dan) Send the whole calf? (Dr. Dave) If you’re close to the diagnostic lab, a whole calf works well. If you’re not, learn how to do a good job of taking samples. Good fresh samples, isolated gut loops, swabs, fixed tissues, lymph nodes. (Dr. Dan) For me, if I’m a cow-calf practitioner and I got scours going on, I have no problem just loading up myself and taking that calf to the D-Lab. I mean a half-day drive or whatever is nothing compared to way I care for those calves. (Dr. Dave) Right. As our friend Dr. Spare just said, we’re affecting the livelihood of those producers and we have to show them that we care. If it takes hauling the calf to the D-Lab, do it. (Dr. Dan) Yes. Get in in there. One of the things that you mentioned was history and premise inspection. Folks, we can’t diagnose these things over the phone or over the email. As a veterinarian, you have to get on the ground, right? (Dr. Dave) Boots on the ground. Absolutely an essential on getting on top of these problems. (Dr. Dan) When you’re having the scours problem, getting your veterinarian out to the farm sooner rather than later to be someone that can give you a second set of eyes. Timing is probably, as fast as neonates can succumb to these diseases, timing is of the essence. Staying on top of it, working on preventative measures but getting someone there soon rather than later is important. (Dr. Dave) Absolutely. (Dr. Dan) Dr. Dave, let’s talk about some of the different samples that you have to send – after you get your samples collected, what are some things that diagnostic labs are going to do? (Dr. Dave) Okay. They can — probably the most common is what we call a culture and sensitivity for bacterial scours. Find out what bugs are there, do sensitivity on it, find out what antibiotic it’s sensitive to. Hopefully, it’s one that’s labeled for beef cattle. (Dr. Dan) Right. That’s important too. (Dr. Dave) Always helps. With fresh fecal samples, they can do virology studies and see, do we have Rotavirus there, do we have corona virus there? BVD. All sorts of samples we can… (Dr. Dan) A lot of times, what we find is, like you said, is secondary to the immuno-suppression. (Dr. Dave) Right. It’s the immuno-suppression; the mismanagement or something not quite right in management is the underlying cause for scours. (Dr. Dan) Cool. When we come back, we’re going to talk about how we treat calves with calf scours with Dr. Dave Rethorst and Beef Health Solutions.
(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Dave Rethorst who’s a veterinarian and owner and operator of Beef Health Solutions which provides traditional veterinary bovine care along with preventative medicine consultation for you and your herd. Dr. Dave, we get a calf, we’ve got calf scours, we’ve got the diagnostics, we have an understanding now of what’s going to help this calf heal itself. What are some things that you employ when we treat these calves? (Dr. Dave) First and foremost, Dan is, we’ve got to get these calves re-hydrated. It’s dehydration that kills 95% of the calves. It isn’t the bug. Like on Rota and corona virus scours, it’s the fact that those viruses destroy all the thousands, millions of little fingers of absorptive service in that gut. They can absorb fluid so we’ve got to stay after him diligent with fluids, get him re-hydrated and use antibiotics more or less as a secondary thing. I’m a big fan of oral fluids. If we catch these calves early, get oral fluids in them, do it two or three times a day, use the proper fluids, we don’t need to use the IV fluids. If they get really down and depressed, then we have to use IV fluids on them. (Dr. Dan) Okay. Talk to me about oral fluids. What are some things that — I mean if you go into the Orscheln’s or go into a veterinary clinic, pick up one of these electrolyte fluid mixes for the calves. (Dr. Dave) Yes. Some of those are, I won’t say some of them are poor, but there’re some that are better than others. One of my old favorites, I hate to mention – (Dr. Dan) No, you can mention. (Dr. Dave) Resorb is a really good one. Some of the others have, in my opinion, too much dextrose in them and will actually prolong the scours because that extra dextrose is pulling fluids into the gut. There’s one I’ve been using the last couple of years and I’m blank on the name of it right now, but it’s an orange colored fluid when you mix it up and it’s really a well-balanced fluid, and does a really nice job on these calves. (Dr. Dan) When we think about fluids, and again the oral fluids, you say two to three times a day, and probably going to use a calf feeder to get it down and make sure that they get it. How much are you recommending that we give? (Dr. Dave) I like to use two quarts two to three times a day. (Dr. Dan) Okay. Remember folks, if you want to know how to dehydrated that calf, is just a simple skin test. You pull that skin back, it should snap back into place. If you pull the skin on that calf and it stays and then slowly goes back, that calf’s dehydrated and needs fluid help. (Dr. Dave) Needs some fluids and if many times the depression in and of itself is an indication of fluids, we’ve got some endotoxic shock going on, and – (Dr. Dan) The big thing on treatment, get them in a dry warm place. Get them on fluids and then if there is a bacterial infection, then an antibiotic that is effective whether it’s in a bolus or in an injection, utilize that. That’s pretty much — and we’re looking for endotoxemia as well. (Dr. Dave) Right, and I like to use the injectables. I don’t like to use oral antibiotics, because I want to take care of the systemic infection, but I don’t want to mess up the flora in that gut any more than it already is. (Dr. Dan) Some of these bacterial infections can go outside the gut and so, we have to treat the endotoxemia so water soluble antibiotic that – but be sure to work with your local veterinarian. He knows the bugs, he knows the drugs, he knows your geography. When we come back, we’re going to talk with Dr. Dave about one of his passions, preventing calf scours.
(Dr. Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. This is Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and colleague, Dr. Dave Rethorst. He’s a veterinarian and owner of Beef Health Solutions, which is a company that provides traditional veterinarian healthcare for your herds and also provides preventative medicine consultation, animal welfare consultation, food safety, many different things that will help you and your herd put yourself in a position to be ahead of the curve. Dr. Dave, when we talk about preventing calf scours, talk me through if I was a producer sitting there and you’re saying, “Hey, let’s talk about calf scours prevention.” Obviously vaccinating starts with that cow. (Dr. Dave) It starts with the cow, and I’ll start with vaccine and then I’ll digress a moment. Traditionally, when we think about preventing, we jump to a vaccine and there’s several good vaccines out there that’ll take care of the E. coli, the Rota and Coronavirus, sometimes we throw in the Clostridial for the enterotoxemia. There’s places that we have to use a Salmonella vaccine. But all that aside, that prevention starts when that cow’s pregnant as I said earlier, because nutrition matters. How we feed that cow, our nutrition program, protein energy, trace mineral during pregnancy affect that calf’s immune system. The amount of protein in that cow’s diet affects that calf’s ability to absorb colostrum. It all starts there and if we’ve got ongoing scours problem year, after year, after year, we need to go back and look at the whole program not just throw a vaccine at it because well we’ve got the Rota virus last year we need to add a Rota. Well yes, we probably need to add a Rota, but we need to look at what else we can do. (Dr. Dan) Yes and so while we’re look at nutrition and vaccination of the cow, we’re also looking at the development of the Immune system of the calf in utero and then the Immune system of that calf due to the proper colostrum intake. Cow nutrition colostrum, what about after the calf is born? What are some things we can do to set that calf right through success… (Dr. Dave) Well first of all, ensure colostrum intake. I studied up at Mid Animal Research Center a number of years ago. Calves that do not get adequate colostrum are 3.5 times more likely to get sick as babies, and six times more likely to get sick before weaning. Work on that colostrum, then we can look at things like the Sandhills Calving System, where after 10 days of calving in the pasture, we move the pregnant cows out, we leave the pairs in that pasture. That way, those pregnant cows are calving on clean ground. We cut down on the environmental contamination of those calves when they are born. Another one of my pet peeves is, biosecurity. We loose a calf off of the first calf heifer, second calf heifer, and we run to the neighbors, or we ran to the dairy, or we ran to the sell barn, and we buy a calf to put on these cows because we don’t want them to run dry. All you have to do is go through one wreck, where you see somebody bring in a salmonella with a calf that they bought so that heifer didn’t ran dry and you’ll let an awful lot of heifers run dry, rather than bring in salmonella or some foreign E. coli or a BVD. (Dr. Dan) Well, great information folks. Great man here, great veterinarian. Be sure to work with your local veterinarian, and if you want to know more about what we do here at DocTalk, you can find us on the Web at www.doctalktv.com. Dr. Dave Rethorst with Beef Health Solutions. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Thanks for watching DocTalk and I’ll see you down the road.
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