(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson, I’m glad that you joined me today. We’re going to talk about something that everybody can utilize on a day-to-day basis working with your cattle and that’s doing a good physical exam and understanding clinical signs of cattle. When they’re doing well, when maybe they have a problem that we need to get them in and check them out a little bit better. Thanks for watching today’s show. More after these messages.
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(Dan) Hey folks, Dr. Dan here. Thanks for joining me today. My name is Dr. Dan Thomson and I’m the Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology here at Kansas State University where I’m a veterinarian and PhD in nutrition. And today we’re going to talk about looking at the animals in the pen, deciding when the animal has something that we need to approach the animal, bring it in to get a closer look or do a thorough physical exam, some things that you can do at your home, on your ranch, your farm and things that I’ll look for out in the pen. So, the first thing we’re going to do, is we’re going to go out to the pen, we’re going to feed the cattle, or we’re going to put out a supplement. And if cattle don’t come up to eat, if we have a change in behavior, that’s the first thing that’s going to tip me off. Because the old adage is, is that sick cattle don’t eat and cattle that don’t eat, get sick. The other thing that we’ll look for is the DART method, OK? And DART stands for, the acronym DART – D is for Depression, A for Anorexia, R for Respiration, and T for Rectal Temperature. Now, we aren’t going to take the rectal temperature out in the pen unless you’re a lot faster than me. And so we’re going to look at the first three letters. Depression-the first thing about a depressed animal is they’ll stand off by themselves. Animals that are sick, they don’t want to be part of the group. They’ll go and they’ll stand, they’ll isolate themselves and a depressed calf will be one that has its head down, its ears down, it will have a dull, listless look in its eyes and it won’t really pay a whole lot of attention to you until you get within its flight zone. The next part of that is Anorexia, meaning the animal is not eating. And so what we want to look for is look at the sides of the animal. Back in para lumbar fossa, in that area between the ribs and the hip, the indentation where the rumen normally is, a nice rounded side to the calf. But when the calf is off feed, they’ll have an indention and they’ll be slab sided or gaunt is the term that we utilize. And when we have cattle that are gaunt it could be, they could be off feed because of pain to their hoof. It could be, it’s very, very sensitive in a calf that’s starting to suffer from respiratory disease. And so it’s a very sensitive measure of when the animal goes off feed. They’ll go off feed three or four days before we’ll see the depression. So Anorexia, in my opinion, is very important in being able to identify cattle that maybe aren’t doing so well. And then Respiration rate, we’ll talk more about respiration rate as cattle generally take 20 to 30 breaths in a minute. And we’ll talk more about cattle respiration rate, how they respire, whether it’s shallow breathing, deep breaths and how those can be different on different types of clinical syndromes going on within the bovine. The last thing I will look at in the pen, is I will read the feces. Now, when cattle are stacking feces, they might be dehydrated. And so the feces will stack up when the calf defecates. If the animal has diarrhea, which in neonates, we’re thinking about neonatal calf diarrhea, or in a feeder steer, we’re thinking about acidosis or some sort of metabolic issue going on to cause that diarrhea. We’ll look out in the home pen and if we see a lot of diarrhea on the home pen, or if the cattle are painting their butts. When a calf has diarrhea, the diarrhea, the feces will get on the tail they swish their tail, it will look like a windshield wiper type pattern on their butts. Those are just some of the things. When we come back we’ll discuss lameness in the home pen and then we’ll take that animal to chute and talk about doing a physical exam. Thanks for watching DocTalk.
(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University where I serve as the Jones Professor of Production Medicine and I’m located in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology. And I spend a lot of time working with farmers and ranchers and veterinarians on how to identify cattle that are sick or lame. And when we talk about lameness, a lot of times we don’t pick up on the subtleties of lameness soon enough. The sooner we can identify a calf becoming lame, we can get them in, we can apply the treatments. Generally if we get it done sooner, there’ll be a lot better outcome, treatment and case outcome, than if we put it off or we don’t diagnose it until the animal is non-weight bearing. So, Zinpro Animal Health has come up with a scoring system. And in Zinpro Scoring System for Lameness, it is a zero through three. And a zero is an animal that’s normal. So, the animal is walking, they have a long stride, the back foot basically lands where the front foot is leaving. So, when you look at the normal stride of a bovine, that stride length or that back foot will almost replace where the front foot was as the animal walks forward. The first subtle sign of lameness in a calf is short-strided. So the calf won’t reach as far with the back limb. Or they’re taking shorter strides and so it’s more of a choppy and that foot is not replacing where the front foot was. So that will be our first sign. And that would be a lameness score of one. When we move to a lameness score of two, which is more severe than a one, then the animal is not only short strided or having a shorter stride as you can see from this video clip. But the animal also has the head bob. Now in a horse that’s lame on the front limb, what we’ll say is the head goes down with the sound. And the same with cattle. So if the calf is walking forward and they have a head bob, when their head goes down, their head is actually going down when they land on the sound foot. So, when their head is up doing the head bob, that is when they’re landing on the limb that’s lame. So you can kind of match that up and narrow it down as to which limb you’re going to look at. As we move from a severity score two to a severity score three, it’s pretty, three being the most severe. These animals are either recumbent and down, or if they’re up, they’re non-weight bearing at all on that limb. So, a zero is normal, a one is short strided, a two is short strided with the head bob and again the animal’s head goes down with the sound limb, on the front limb lameness, and then a three is non-weight bearing. The sooner we bring those cattle to the chute, the better. So when you bring an animal out of a pen, and now we’re going to go from the pen to the hospital area, or from the pen to the chute, you want to be looking at how that animal is moving. You want to be looking at the pen conditions as you come out. You want to be looking at the potential for diarrhea, and we’re going to look at the gauntness of the animal. And all those are going in to your Rolodex, as you’re bringing that animal to the chute, to get a more thorough diagnostic review of that animal through a physical exam. When we come back from these messages, we’re going to move old Bossie into the chute, and we’re going to do a thorough physical exam.
(Dan) Hey folks this is Dr. Dan from DocTalk. We have moved Bossie into the chute. So now we’re going to do the physical exam and the big thing about a physical exam, you want to start out, you want to make sure that you all have the ability to restrain an animal. If you’re going to work with the head, use a halter. If you’re going to do something with the side of the cow, make sure your have a squeeze chute or a stanchion or a way to put that animal in a place where it’s not going to hurt you or kick you or hurt somebody that’s working on your farm or ranch. And if you’re going to work with the legs, you’re going to make sure you have ropes, OK? And so we’re going to make sure that we have ropes out there, and we’ll talk a little bit about how we can maneuver the animal within the squeeze chute so we can exam the head, so we can examine the rumen, so we can examine the legs and different things that we’re going to do during the physical exam. But the first thing we’re going to do on physical exam is we’re going to take a rectal temperature. Now, the normal rectal temperature of an adult cow is 100.5 to 102.5. And then for a baby calf, we increase that one degree. So, the normal for a baby calf or a feeder steer normal rectal temp is 101.5 to 103.5. Anything above the normal range is indicative of disease process or running a fever. One thing to be cautious of though is that when you’re taking a rectal temperature in the summer or times when we have high environmental temperatures, the animal if it’s dissipating heat and they’re accumulating heat load, they can actually have a slight increase in rectal temp, which would be normal. But when we get in that 105 106, 107 we definitely have some sort of infection whether it’s a virus or bacteria that’s going on in this animal; some undifferentiated fever or cause of fever and which warrants a greater physical exam of that animal. Now, when you take rectal temperature, one thing that you want to make sure of is that you have a calibrated thermometer. And make sure your thermometer is working properly. The other one is is that you would be amazed that when we don’t lift the tail to insert the thermometer, if you’re having to just try to angle that thermometer into the rectum you can actually perforate the rectum with your thermometer, and we’ve seen that in some cases. So, make sure that you lift the tail. If you want to use lube on the thermometer, but make sure you lift the tail and that you do a proper insertion of that thermometer. Make sure you have the thermometer against the rectum wall so that you get an accurate reading and not in the lumen. But 101.5 to 103.5 for our feeder steers. For a cow that you bring in out of the pasture 100.5 to 102.5. If I’m going up, moving up to the head, the one thing I might look at is first I want to determine how old this cow is. And if you don’t know how to age a cow we can do so based on the incisors. And once the first two incisors, calves are born with baby teeth. And the baby teeth fall out at different ages along the cow’s life. And at 18 to 24 months is when you’ll have the first two incisors of permanent teeth. Twenty-four to 30 months you’ll have two sets of incisors. At three years of age, or 36 months, you’ll have three sets of incisors. And then 42-48 months, or a four year old cow, will have four sets of incisors. And that’s how you can start to score them. But one of the most important things if you have a cow that’s skinny that you’re bringing in, look in their mouth and make sure she has teeth. Smooth mouthed cows have trouble grazing and might not be able to keep up. We’re going to take another break and when we come back we’ll continue on our physical exam and walk you through. Thanks for watching DocTalk. More after these messages.
(Dan) All right folks, let’s continue on our physical exam and we’re going to look at the eyes. And eyes can tell a story. If they’re dull and listless that means an animal could be depressed. If the eyes are sunken in, that’s pretty indicative of dehydration. If the eyes are bulging, in an older cow it could mean that we have bovine leukosis virus and we have some sort of lymphoma or something going on in that cow that we need to make sure that we’re getting her taken care of. Also on the dehydration front, to determine dehydration we’ll first look and see if the eyes are sunken. The other one is the skin tent. And if I pull that loose area of the skin and it doesn’t go back right away in the normal place, that means that animal is dehydrated. So, it will stay in that tented form longer than normal. OK? I also look at the nose. If the nose has got feed on it, I probably pulled a calf that looked ugly and not one that was sick. Feed on the nose is a good thing. But if the nose is dry, cracked, red generally means that animal has something going on in the disease process, running a fever or such. Other things that I’m going to look at, I’m going to look at normal heartbeats. A lot of times people don’t even know the normal number of heartbeats are 40 to 70 beats per minute in a cow. Respiration rate, normal respiration rate in a cow is 10 to 30 breaths per minute. And the last thing I want to look at is a normal functioning rumen. The cow or steer should have one to two rumen contractions per minute. If they aren’t, there’s a high potential of bloat. There could be something going on that’s causing rumen stasis and decrease in digestion within that rumen. How do you tell rumen contractions, heart beat, respiration rates? You an use a stethoscope. When you want to take the heart rate or you want to take the respiration rate or measure rumen motility, you can use a stethoscope. A cheap stethoscope is worth a lot when it comes to a physical exam. Place a stethoscope in the cardiac region to listen to heart beats. You can actually listen to the lungs aspire air and move air and count the number of breaths. But using that stethoscope back in that para-lumbar fossa, in that area between the hips and the ribs, you will actually hear a roar or a roll of the rumen contractions. If you don’t have a stethoscope you can take the pulse of a cow underneath the jaw, or you can watch respiration rates. Or you can manually, physically put your fist in that para-lumbar fossa area and feel the rumen contractions as they move over your fist. Many different tricks to physical exams. I really appreciate you all watching DocTalk. Be sure you work with your local veterinarian and if you want to know more about what we do at DocTalk, you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. Thanks for watching today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you, down the road.
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