March 14, 2016

Dan) Hey folks, welcome to the show. Dr. Dan here. Thanks for joining me. We’re going to talk about doing necropsies and the value of doing a necropsy in your herd when you have an animal that dies. My guest Dr. Mike Apley, so stay tuned for a great show.

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(Dan) Folks welcome to the show. Welcome to the show Dr. Apley. (Mike) Thanks. (Dan) Folks, this is Dr. Mike Apley and he is a friend and colleague here at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University where he serves as the Frick Professor of Production Medicine Clinical Pharmacology, all things cows, all things food animal and does a whale of a job, not only representing the beef industry on a local level but nationally and internationally. And today we’re going to get down to something that we’ve done quite a few of… (Mike) You’ve done more than me. I’ve had better success. (Dan) Obviously the person who has had the most deads underneath their purview is the one that has the most necropsy experience. So, we will yield to Dr. Apley today on all the discussions about necropsies. But anyway, all kidding aside, it’s something pretty important for telling the story or getting a diagnosis. (Mike) It’s really important and especially as you get further and further away from the routine. So, if we talk about there’s routine surveillance and then there’s uh oh, something’s really, really different we need to look at it. So, routine surveillance, sometimes we can get into patterns where animals are treated for certain things, have a typical clinical appearance and maybe the intensity isn’t quite as required there. But when we get into things that are really out of the ordinary and especially as you get out into the cow herds and stocker operations where you see something, man that just wasn’t right. What’s going on? (Dan) Yea, and there’s a couple of different things-the sudden unexpected death or the one or two or three, the pattern of unexpected death. And really you know, people know their herds. People understand their cattle and to get a, my Dad used to say it was easier for him to sell a vaccine for a few thousand dollars than to sell a diagnosis for a few dollars. And that’s where we’re at right now is we’re gonna talk about getting that proper diagnosis. So, you know, you mentioned cow herds. And why is the cow herd different than the cattle feeding facility? (Mike) Well, in a cattle feeding facility 75 percent of our morbidity is respiratory disease and about 50 percent of our death loss. We have a lot wider variety in death loss in an adult cow or bull. One of the things that’s really caused me to want to do this segment is times where as a veterinarian I’ve come into a situation, or talked to veterinarians who come into a situation where wow, we’re ten animals in or we’re way into the outbreak and we’re just starting to think about a necropsy. And early is good. (Dan) Right, right. Because one thing about a necropsy while we may get the gross lesions, and we’re gonna talk about this in the next segment about what your veterinarian is going to do, it does have, there is some time frame beyond the necropsy until we get the answer back of what’s really going on. (Mike) Sometimes it will be three to five days depending on when in the week and everything and then the type of test you’re running. So, the clock starts ticking for you. (Dan) Yea, so let’s take a break. When we come back we’re going to talk more with Dr. Apley about necropsy and specifically we’re going to talk about getting that diagnosis or what your veterinarian is going to do or look for when they come out on your farm. You’re watching DocTalk. Dr. Mike, Dr. Dan, more after these messages.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Mike Apley. And we work at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and we’re talking about a necropsy with beef cattle, Mike. And how soon do you need to call someone? (Mike) As soon as they get that look in their eye, would be nice. Obviously in the summer, we’re on a pretty tight schedule. An adult bovine can start to decompose really, really fast. And so the ability to tell what’s going on and see some of the gross lesions is dependent on us getting a pretty good chance. So the minute they’re found and the question is raised, we need to figure out more about this, you know. (Dan) And if you don’t, you go out and do the necropsy, you send the samples in you get the tissue results and we’ve all gotten those, and what happens then is the cost of the necropsy, cost of mailing things in, cost of checking them in and no results. So, the sooner you get somebody there, the better. And obviously winter and fall and spring, not as much as a hurry as summer. But in the summer get somebody out there quick. (Mike) And the thing, even in a 50 degree or 40 degree day, even in the shade the heat generated by the rumin in those animals and everything can make them go down hill pretty fast. (Dan) So my veterinarian is coming out to do a necropsy. What’s going to happen? (Mike) Well, they’re going to need a place to do it where there can be some obviously some things moved around. And we’re going to want to be able to lay them on the correct side, and have room to move ’em around and lay ’em out. We need to know whether you’re going to be rendering the animal or if you have a place to bury or compost the animal depending on local regulations and what you’re set up to do. So, if we know all that at the start that helps things out, speeds things up. (Dan) So, we’re going to come out, we’re gonna put the animal in a position to do a necropsy. It will be left side down. (Mike) Yes. (Dan) Put the rumin on the ground, and then what is the veterinarian going to do? (Mike) Well, I’ll tell you how we teach it here at K-State. The way you and I do it, we start at the tip of the jaw and we work clean back under the tail with one big incision and we start laying things back. And one of the reasons we like to do that if they are rendered, we protect the hide, so that there’s some value in the hide left. Obviously not as important if it could be buried or composted. Then we’ll start into the abdominal cavity, work through the thoracic, chest cavity, and up through the neck. We start looking at things from the tongue clear as far back as you can go. And you’ll find most veterinarians have developed a very systematic approach to going through the different organs and looking. And that’s one of the values of veterinarians doing a lot of these is if you see a lot of normal, you can recognize abnormal. (Dan) Right. So, there will be a system in place. We’re going to take a look, and when we do the necropsy, that’s really just to get a look at the gross lesions. (Mike) Yea, and then samples will be collected to where we think we need to. And sometimes samples may be sent in in the absence of gross lesions because we know or we’re suspecting something is going on maybe in that particular tissue might not have yet had time to show lesions. (Dan) Cool. Well, let’s take a break. When we come back we’ll talk about what happens when the samples leave the farm going to the diagnostic lab and start to get a diagnosis for them. You’re watching DocTalk. Be sure to work with your local veterinarian. Dr. Mike Apley, Dr. Dan Thomson. More after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Mike Apley and we’re from Kansas State University and the College of Veterinary Medicine. We’re talking about necropsy, getting a vet on the farm, why we’re going to do a necropsy, which animals we’re going to do a necropsy, how soon, what we’re going to do. Now, let’s talk about some of the common diseases. (Mike) There’s some things you could get a really quick indication of what’s going on. For example anaplasmosis. (Dan) Yep. (Mike) A lot of parts of Kansas and parts east and south especially, but in a lot of parts of the country people are familiar with the challenge of that disease, when vector season starts, mid-summer and on through 30 days past a killing frost and I hear people have it in the dead of winter too. A veterinarian will be able to pretty quickly pick up if that’s what’s going on through the vector appearance of the carcass. It will be yellow and looking at characteristics of the spleen, etc. And probably would still need laboratory confirmation, but that would be enough to go, Oops, we need to start some control and really watch the other animals right away. Other diseases, respiratory diseases of course. In a cattle feeding situation we’re going to take a pH of the rumin. The rumin would be very, very fluid filled because the water gets pulled in there. So, take a pH and work for it from there. Bloats, intestine obstructions, intestinal diseases, bovine viral diarrhea, infectious bovine tracheitis, BVDIBR, characteristically. (Dan) And when we start to go through…you and I both work from the front to the back, we’re going to be looking for the lesions of BVD on the tongue and the esophagus and the ulcers. You look for IBR in the trachea and then the one that we’re going to see too is Bovine Respiratory Disease in the lung. (Mike) Yep. And we can get an idea, not really precise, this many hours, but we can get an idea if it’s been pretty chronic, or pretty fresh case, or those types of things. We can tell if there was a reproductive issue. One of the other things we do more and more is look in joints and deep legs and see what’s going on there. So, there’s a lot of things that you can get an initial start on before the diagnostics, but an immediate reaction. (Dan) Absolutely. And there are some diseases like the anaplasmosis, the micro-plasmas, things to that nature, that if we get a diagnosis grossly we can initiate treatment sooner because we’re going to have to…this is something that spreads through the herd and getting treatment to the herd or therapy or control is vitally important of making sure we don’t lose other animals. (Mike) Yea and another area that requires a little more work to get to and isn’t done on each necropsy, but is the brain. The brain, there’s some gross lesions, but a lot of times that involves sending in for histology and again we’re into our three to five days by the time it gets there, things are done and it’s back. (Dan) Yea, so the first thing is folks, get a vet on your place. Have them do a necropsy, especially the things when you know your herd, and something just quite isn’t right, or something that’s different. The older cow that doesn’t have any teeth, that’s probably not the one that you’re going to worry too much about the necropsy on. But you get those three, four year old heifers, three to four year old cows and you have a death, then we’re going to get on top of it. And really having a part of a biosecurity plague in your herd. (Mike) One of the diseases that classically only causes clinical disease in three to five percent of the affected one is bovine necrosis. (Dan) Right. (Mike) In my little herd, we found out that it’s a lot higher than that when it first came in. And the first thing you saw was a cow with congestive heart failure and you go, what’s going on, what’s going on? And she had it in her heart. And it’s good to know and so the way we responded to that was a to needle each animal. (Dan) Good. Folks, necropsies are important. Something that could be a great tool to your animal health. More after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and colleague Dr. Mike Apley who is Boarded in Clinical Pharmacology. He’s a veterinarian who works with beef cattle and different food animal production systems locally, nationally, internationally. One of the most respected veterinarians in the country. And I’m lucky to have him as a friend and get him here to come be on the show. As you see us out and about we always get tickled when somebody comes up and says I saw you on DocTalk or whatever. So be sure to come flag us down and talk to us. Give us some ideas about shows you’d like to see. But as we’re talking about necropsies Mike, we’ve gone through the gamut. And now there’s going to be another discussion after the necropsy. (Mike) Yea, because now we’ve done the gross necropsy. (Dan) Right. (Mike) And now the decision is, are we going to do something more? So, there’s a cost for doing the necropsy. Are tests warranted? And so the big question I’ve always discussed is, will spending the money on those tests change our plan? Is there something different we might do knowing whether it’s actually this organism or this specific disease? And sometimes there definitely is. And so we start to think, man I’ve just lost an animal that’s worth…this was a bred replacement heifer and I’m in the mid $2,000 dollars worth of value and what do I…I’m going to spend more money after, but the thought isn’t about the one that’s laying there, it’s about the other 30 or 40 or 50 that are out there in the field. (Dan) Yea. When you sit out there and you look at 30 animals that are worth $75,000 or $150,000 dollars standing out there in the pasture and we have one that dies, it seems pretty…it seems as though we’re stepping over dollars to pick up dimes, when we don’t get a proper diagnosis or necropsy when something could be percolating. It’s kind of like the iceberg theory right? That when you see the tip of the iceberg, that’s one thing. But everything underneath. (Mike) And we’ve just talked about adult animals. But another very, very important facet is aborted fetuses and placentas. (Dan) Yep. (Mike) If you can get the placenta and the fetus, that’s very, very valuable to have that pair to go in because it’s obvious there that you’ve got 100 yet to calf what’s going on? The other thing to understand is sometimes the value of the necropsies aren’t that we can immediately shut down what’s going on now, it may be rolling too far. But it’s about biosecurity. It’s about planning for next year. How we bring on animals on to the place? Do we need to test and call those types of decisions come about from these tests? And our tests have really gotten better these last decades to where we have a lot more confidence in our conclusions. (Dan) Great. Well thanks for being on the show today. And thank you for watching DocTalk. Remember always 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 You’ve been watching DocTalk today. I appreciate you joining us. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you, down the road.

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