Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

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FCR
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Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

Postby FCR » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:41 pm

I am about a week into weaning a group of calves. This morning, I found one previously healthy steer dead. He was about 5 months old and healthy and active last night. Found him still warm on his side and he hadn't kicked or struggled any I could tell. Actually had a mouthful of unchewed sudan hay in his mouth so he had just recently been eating. He was slightly bloated looking but not severe. I was worried it might be contagious so decided to open him up and see what might have been wrong. I found all organs to be normal and no sign of blackleg. His rumen was packed with hay and I pulled out about 3 gallons, all which looked normal. That's when I found a hard object between the rumen and next stomach. It was a charred piece of wood about the size of a golf ball in diameter and twice that length (see pic). It seemed to be blocking the exit into the next stomach and there were other small pieces and ash packed around it. I was wondering if anyone has heard of a calf dying suddenly from an obstruction like this? Everything I have been able to read seems to indicate that it usually takes longer and they will get poor plus this was a pretty small object which I would think he could pass. He was the picture of health until I found him this morning. I'm not sure where he picked up the charred wood either as there isn't anything like that in the pen so he may have swallowed it a while ago. I was glad it doesn't appear to be disease, but perplexed how this could happen. Thoughts?
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Jeanne - Simme Valley
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Re: Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:53 am

that looks like a pretty large object for a 5 month old calf. I have no experience with obstructions, so I will let someone else give you some advice??
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Re: Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

Postby greybeard » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:58 am

I remember seeing Lucky_P saying something recently about the dangers of cattle ingesting ashes from certain burned wood species. Perhaps it wasn't so much a blockage as it was a toxin from the charred wood?

(will see if I can find Lucky_P's post regarding this)
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Re: Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

Postby greybeard » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:02 am

From Luck_P, but it's in regards to burned pressure treated lumber:

"HOWEVER!!! Anymore, the most common source of arsenic poisoning in cattle is from people burning old CCA-treated lumber and allowing cattle access to the burn pile. They will eat up those ashes like they're candy... and die."
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=111945&hilit=ashes

Perhaps Lucky_P has some input on what may have happened with this steer..........
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Re: Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

Postby Bright Raven » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:52 am

Three years ago my next door neighbor had cows in a pasture with woods - most pastures here have woods. Found a dead cow. He did the same thing, wondered what killed her so he cut her open. She had a stick that was about 8 or 9 inches long lodged in her esophagus.
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Re: Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

Postby wbvs58 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:04 pm

I doubt that it would be the cause of death as from an obstruction but will be interested to hear what Lucky says. Certainly with charred material there arsenic would warrant further investigation.

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Re: Lost calf due to obstruction in Rumen

Postby FCR » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:57 pm

Thanks for the replies. The wood was most likely burned mesquite. We have a lot of burn piles out in the pastures and it definitely isn't toxic. I could see treated wood being a problem, but would likely take longer and make the calf sick first. I think it was just bad luck that it actually made it through the esophagus but hung up in the stomach. Also, because I was feeding hay and cubes, he probably was eating more than he would have been out in the pasture which added to the bloat.
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