September 26, 2016

(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey, folks welcome to DocTalk today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Here at Kansas State University and I’m really glad that you joined us. We’re going to talk about cow colic and Dr. Matt Miesner is our guest. He is always a great, great guest and we’re going to have a lot of fun talking about things that make the abdomen of your cow sore and how they respond. Stay tuned.

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(Dan) Hey welcome to the show. (Dr. Matt Miesner) Glad to be back. (Dan) Folks, Dr. Matt Miesner, he’s the head of our Livestock Veterinary Services here at Kansas State University. He’s boarded in internal medicine and today we are going to talk about Cow Colic. (Matt) Sounds like a good topic. (Dan) [Laughs] and so let’s just start out what exactly is colic? (Matt) In the most general basic terms colic just means abdominal pain and so most of the time we refer to intestinal pain when we talk about it, but the basic definition of colic is abdominal pain. (Dan) We hear, You’ve got a colicky baby or You’ve got a horse that’s colicky and a cow. (Matt) Right. And what’s interesting about that, with the anatomy and the physiology in the production system all of those reasons for that colic are going to be different, and we have to sort through that. I think you’re right, most of this audience is probably thinking, you think colic, you think of your horse and it’s a pretty common thing that we deal with in horses as well but a whole different set of reasons for that colic happen with cattle. (Dan) Okay, so let’s talk about some of those different reasons and then when we go through, we’ll go through different clinical signs as we get in to the rest of the segments through the show, but what are some of the general terms or general causes of colic in cattle? (Matt) So first off some of those would be shared and with some of the shared anatomy of the small intestine, a lot of the small intestinal reasons for colic in cattle would be the same as a horse and we’ll have situations where the intestines sort of telescope on themselves. Or we’ll have fat in the abdomen that actually twists around the intestine. Then we get in to all the other reasons for ruminants who would colic which would be bloat and then we’ve got an abomasum stomach that twist around in a certain situation, and these happen with calves and dairies and others that we’ll run in to. But the whole different set of anatomical structures that we deal with in cattle will cause abdominal pain and colic and GI pain. (Dan) It makes some sense too, that cattle at different ages probably are more susceptible to different types of colic, like a baby calf that’s on a bottle versus a cow that’s out on grass versus a steer that’s on grain? (Matt) Sure diet sets up different reasons for colic in calves getting scours and diarrhea, alters the motility of the intestine, leading to other reasons for colic, different infectious organisms can allow gas to accumulate and that’s going to take up some reasons to calves abdominal pains as well. (Dan) Great. Well, We’re at a point in time here we’re going to take a break. When we come back let’s discuss a little bit more about some of the clinical signs, some of the things that farmers, ranchers should be looking for. Things that you’re wanting to understand if your cows have an abdominal pain or colic and come back with that. Sounds good? (Matt) Sounds great. (Dan) Great. Folks, thanks for watching DocTalk. We’re glad to have you here this morning. I’m here with Dr. Matt Miesner. More on colic after these messages.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Matt Miesner. We’re at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. Glad to have you with us this morning. Dr. Miesner is the head of our Livestock Services. It’s both an ambulatory and referral. You were just talking about sending animals back home to lands far away, that cattle are hauled in here for surgeries and different procedures and service for referral, and we’re awfully proud of the service that Dr. Miesner and his colleagues provide. We’re talking about abdominal pain and let’s go through some of the clinical signs. Because they might be subtle, they might not be so subtle, but we need to understand what’s going on with the cow. (Matt) Right. And they can be and subtlety is probably their most common presentation for these types of things. And as a prey species, they tend to guard themselves. They don’t want to let anything know that they’re weak. And so, one of the more common things if we see it, might just be a pretty significant drop in feed consumption or milk production in the dairy side or a calf that just shuts down, so isolation. So it can be quite subtle and vague and that becomes part of the puzzle that we try to work through to get to the answer of what’s happening. But we do see that. Then you’ll have the whole severe clinical signs which are what most people might notice as active colic or the type of colic which is kicking at the abdomen possibly rolling around. Often times, there was more extreme clinical signs have hit a problem that is just they can’t hide from. And so, we have ideas for what’s causing those types of active colic as well. And I tell you show steers and others, probably may not be just as subtle as I’m not eating today and occasionally looks like he’s scratching his abdomen and kicking at it, laying down a little bit more, but they can guard some pretty bad stuff. (Dan) So whenever you see animals go off feed or you see them starting to isolate folks, you need to start watching that animal more closely and look for different types of clinical signs because then they’ll start to tell you what’s going on. (Matt) Yes and probably one of the best descriptions I’ve heard about ruminants is that they are recreational urinators and defecators. (Dan) [Laughs]. (Matt) They should be urinating and defecating constantly. And I will tell you that, that shuts down and that becomes something important that we look at. (Dan) And then the other one is if we do have those twisted guts or things that we can have straining too, right? (Matt) Yes; straining, lagging. (Dan) Obviously a recreational defecator would have some straining going on if things weren’t being passed. (Matt) Often times you look at them and they are humped up, we’ll get this arched back, some other things that can occur, but yes, that’s the thing. And then we get kidded a lot about when we ask questions to our clients as well, are they defecating and often looking at that. I got 30 in the can and I…usually that leads to a physical exam and looking at a rectal pump. (Dan) What about differences in feces, like if they are stacking versus– and stacking means really dry folks. (Matt) And diarrhea, so was it diarrhea, now it’s nothing, was it mucus covered? Is it dry? Does it fit with what they are eating? That really makes a difference to. (Dan) Just list some of the things you have to have on the tip of your mind when you call your vet and start to get that referral and have the veterinarian come out. We are going to take a break, when we come back, more with Dr. Miesner about different types of things that cause colic in your cow.

(Dan) Hey folks welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Matt Miesner who is the head of our Livestock Services Ambulatory and Referral Clinic here at Kansas State University in the Veterinary Health Center and we’re talking about cow colic. We’re going to start out with calves. Let’s get the baby calf and some of the reasons that we’ll have colic in those little guys. (Matt) Initially you talked a little bit about diet and we would potentially set these animals up for some gas distention, bloat accumulation, whatever feed and then we can lead to bacterial overgrowth. One of the things that we talk about a lot in calves, is what we call clostridial abomasitis or bacterial overgrowth with abomasal where the primary stomach fills with gas, gets distended, bloat, calf quits passing manure, those kind of things and they get really sick, really toxic, really fast and one of the things we’ll notice on these calves is that they’ll quit eating and often times if it’s a calf on pasture, you can just have them with bottle feeding but a calf on pasture oftentimes is the cow that is a heavy milker. She’s off eating. Calves having a good day in the sun, comes back and just tanks on a lot of milk. We worry about that. And we have calf down, you see bloated and when we listen to their stomach, oftentimes it sounds like there is a basketball in there. We get this resonating ping that happens but really sick, really fast. And so that’s something we talk about or a fairly common reason to have a calf that’s down and sick. (Dan) And we’ve seen some of those this summer. I mean coming out off of biggest calf, most aggressive calf, mom milks him at most and all of a sudden he’s got ruffed up looking hair coat, dull look to him and he’s bloated. (Matt) Yes. And down and out. Then maybe he’s had, maybe you’ll see situations where those similar type feeding and environmental setup leads to diarrhea. So we’ll have calf scours we’ve talked about in the past and that leads to different motility disorders and bad intestine. It can’t potentially telescope on itself so we can have abomasum and then we move down the stream with the other things that– intussusceptions would be common and possible in these calves. (Dan) So when you see an intussusception or you have a calf with an intussusception, what are the clinical signs are that going to be? (Matt) Again, so you still some abdominal distention, manure’s nil, so it will just shut down. When we listen to that, we may not hear that ping but oftentimes you can listen and it sounds like this calf’s just sloshing around in his abdomen. So it sounds like he’s just got a belly full of fluid. And a lot of times, it’s the back up from the intestine, but most things we just see the manure really shuts down. (Dan) Straining? (Matt) Straining, yes. (Dan) So if you have a calf that’s straining, not passing feces, probably you need to get to the veterinarian pretty quick. (Matt) Right, yes. Absolutely. (Dan) Treatment for intussusception, I know you’ve treated a few of those. (Matt) This turns into surgical. There’s really no way to get to that other than to open them up, find it, remove it or be able to reduce it and that’s the surgical reason for colic. (Dan) Okay. Anything else? We’re going to have to go to a break but anything else on abomasitis or intussusception? (Matt) Well, I think trying to differentiate them. You might think you have something like that but there’s a few congenital things that we’ll see in calves that look similar, where the portions of the intestines never really were hooked up and those are calves you might see in the first three to five days. And oftentimes, those things that never hooked up, there’s no manure but there’s never been any manure. And so, I can usually tell something like that by just doing it digital and if it’s clear and that calf has never passed any manure. And so there are a few little congenital things that can happen too. (Dan) Cool. Folks, if you see something like this, time to call a vet. We’re going to come back with our final session here with Dr. Miesner on cow colic after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks welcome back to DocTalk Dr. Dan Thomson here, with Dr. Matt Miesner. He’s boarded in internal medicine and does a lot of medicine and surgery here at the Kansas State University in our livestock services where he is the section head in the Veterinary Health Center and in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Thanks for being with us; I always enjoy having you on the show. Let’s talk a little bit more, we’ve got through some of the calf deals, but we’ve got a couple of other syndromes that can happen. (Matt) I think as they get a little bit older, feeds change, diets change and reasons for these things to set up will change a little bit. I think that on one side we do see a fair bit of abdominal pain, GI pain, related to stomach ulcers so they will get abomasal ulcers; just like anything can, and those have a whole different sort of vague syndrome, that we can see. We talked about manure, appearance gets a little bit dark and bloody and there are all different stages of stomach ulcers in cattle but that’s one thing that we can think of. Animals on high concentrate diets get a little bit of rumenitis that will make sepsis. (Dan) The other thing is, coccidiosis is a bright cherry red blood and when you have this abomasal it can be like coffee grounds. (Matt) Dark and sort of a digested dark blood that comes through, versus a coccidiosis, which can be another reason for colic. It tears up the gut, but again we can look at the fecal on some of those and figure those out, so the older the animal, coccidiosis is not something you might think of in the calf in the first couple of weeks of life, it only tends to come in later. (Dan) And then, that high grain diet can also lead to some bloats. (Matt) Bloat and colic and I tell you, often times bloat– and I get that description a lot and we try to figure is it rumen bloat, is it intestinal bloat, is it big cecum that’s turned around in there. Bloat as a general description, often times has some colic signs associated with it. We’re trying to determine what it is. Maybe it’s just a rumen bloat that we can take care of. Or is this bloat due to something that’s obstructed the intestines. And often times you can tell that just by looking at the contour of the animal. A lot of people have seen some rumen bloats, which it’s got some gas in that left blank kind of area, versus this big round bellies that potentially could be bloated but all their smaller intestines are just full of gas. (Dan) And then you got free gas and frothy bloat, and wheat pasture cattle with the frothy and the feedlot cattle and the show steers we’ll see more free gas. (Matt) A lot of times we’re trying to determine these before they see the vet; and if you pass the tube and that bloat doesn’t come off really quickly, with the free gas we don’t have a lot of foam on the tube. Consider something further downstream. And that’s what I tell folks a lot, well, we gave it some oil, maybe we gave it some Therabloat but it did not go down, and so let’s check something on the backend of it. (Dan) Thank you for being on the show today. (Matt) Glad to be here. (Dan) Folks, Dr. Matt Miesner, thanks for watching DocTalk, we appreciate you spending time with us. Remember always work with your local veterinarian and if you want to know more about DocTalk you can find us on the web at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson thanks for joining us today and I’ll see you down the road.

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