Total Pageviews

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Blind Calf Story


This happened last month. I thought it was an interesting case.


Wed Aug 15th 2007 8:30 AM: Went out and brought new heifer calf and cow in from field. Not too sure how old calf was; umbilical cord sort of dried up, but calf still seemed damp. Left her with cow all morning ‘til maybe early afternoon, then separated them. Beautiful, normal calf.


6 PM Fed calf bottle. She slugged back the whole thing.

Thurs Aug 16th5:15 AM (approx) Calf comatose. Or as near as I could tell. She was on her side, non-responsive, drooling, head on ground, eyes closed or just barely opened. I tried to feed her bottle but she only swallowed convulsively once or twice, then milk just drained from her mouth.


5:30 AM. Husband went out and looked at her. Drug her out of pen and out of the way to be taken to boneyard later after chores were all done. She was barely breathing and as I said, totally non-responsive.This was a real grief as the cow she came from is a great milker and to get a heifer from her was a joy. But...


12 noon on Thurs. I came home from town and was astonished to see her sitting up looking around.


7 PM. She was very weak, but stood up and drank her whole bottle.


By the next day: She is blind! It is so weird. The calf is totally blind. She seems strong enough, gets up, slurps down her whole bottle, but her eyes are white, clouded over like. (see photo)


For the next two weeks she is blind and we don't bother to put her in a pen. She continues to gain strength and wanders around now, but stays pretty close to the other calves. She does get up and come bumbling toward me when she hears me out feeding them. It is funny to watch her; she walks really cautiously with her head stretched out, when she bumps into something she turns and goes another direction; kind of like one of those windup toys that turn when they hit a wall.
Fast forward to Sept. She has regained her sight and except for a strange opacity about her pupils you can't tell her from the other calves.
My husband thinks it was a fever that made her blind. But it was weird.

34 comments:

jel said...

that is very weird!

a pretty calf ! ;)

Anonymous said...

I came upon your post trying to get some answers to our blind calf. We had a calf, born a week ago, that went down after not sucking enough on mom or for whatever reason. She wasn't comatose but wouldn't stand up for long and quit trying to suck so I tubed her twice and treated her with antibiotics as I was sure she was running a fever. Her eyes have been running which I just blamed on her having a cold until I saw that they were an opaque green with a red line through one and she was blind. I am hoping this will be a case like yours where her sight will come back in time. She is otherwise doing really well, bunting mom half to death and quite aggressive to suck, I just have to help her find the right end of the cow. Did you treat your calf with anything for the blindness???? Thanks for any input. Iris

Calfkeeper said...

Iris-no we didn't treat the calf for anything for the blindness; just took the wait and see response. Really, I don't know what we could have done. At any rate she is still quite alive, though she has developed what appear to be cataracts on both eyes-there are white spots in the iris. But she sees because she will flinch when you make a quick movement to her face.

She was actually born sighted, I believe. At least we didn't notice anything out of the ordinary like you described. It, your case, sounds really strange-that the eyes are an opaque green.

Good luck. Let me know what happens.

Rebecca

Fred said...

My "Blind Cafe" Story is a repeat of the "Calfkeeper". We got rejected range calf (Blk Angus) and cow to a corral and squeeze shoot at birth +44 hours. Calf was all but comatose with eyes weepiing but appearinig normal. In a period of 45 minutes during transport to corral, eyes changed to a tranlucent grey/brown with no pulils. Calf nursed cow in shoot and is now at 3rd nursing and doing well.
Could rejection be instint of cow that calf is impaired?
Thank you Blog/Boggers Fred

Anonymous said...

Last week when rotating cows, I noticed a newborn and mom off by themselves. I left them that day as not to bother them with moving. The next day went out to check on them and noticed the calf walking in circles. I went up to it, the mother not bothered at all by my intrusion, and noticed the eyes cloudy and only a half moon size pupils in both eyes. And the eyes have a slant much like a down symdrome baby. She makes no motion when waving my hands in front of her and runs into things, so I know she's blind. The calf is strong and healthy otherwise, and nursing normally, although the mother cow doesn't seem too concerned with keeping up with the calf. This morning I happen to be out working and heard commotion from the cows and dogs barking. One of our border collies found the calf off wandering and chased her, I think trying to get her back to the herd, but instead she went into the tank. I climbed the fence and ran out to check on her, hoping the little thing would swim back but she only wandered in circles, bobbling up and down. I dove in and pulled her out, along with the help from a passing neighbor who saw all the action. Had I not been around, I'm afraid the little thing would have drowned. I wonder if any of you have sequestered the blind calf so you can keep an eye on it or do you allow it to run the pastures with the others. I'm afraid of what might happen next time I'm not around. We've named her Andrea Bocelli.......

Calfkeeper said...

Fred-I asked hubby about cow rejecting calf due to some health issue. He is skeptical of that theory based on the fact that the cow will stick around a stillborn calf and protect it. I don't know; maybe sometimes the cow does know.

Anony-We didn't sequester the calf, but we didn't let her run the open pasture either. She just ambled around the grounds on her own. We had to keep an eye on her to keep her out of trouble, but she did pretty well on her own. She learned to turn and go the other way when she ran into something. She'd hear me coming with the bottle and would come toward me by sound. I'd have been afraid to let her into any enclosure with ponds or such.

Anonymous said...

I did some research on Google for a 4 day old calf, and eyes are cloudy, and I came across your blog. We have the same problem. First, the mother wasn't feeding her baby, the teats didn't come down, and the farmer didn't catch it for a day and he found the baby in the field. The calf didn't get the colostrum, but he started feeding it milk replacement right away. The calf downed the bottles the first couple days with no problems, now her eyes are getting cloudy and watery and she is somewhat weak. Do you think that the cloudy eyes could come from pinkeye? She didn't get the nutrition and antibodies from the mother, so her immune system has to be weak. I'm not sure what else it could be. She is about 4 days old now. I raise sheep and goats myself, so I don't know much about cattle, we just help out the neighbors.

Also, I seen that you are located in Missouri? I am too! We are just a little west of St. Louis in Pacifc. Where are you located? Do you sell raw milk?

Thanks,
Julia

Calfkeeper said...

Julia- I continue to be surprised at how many comments this post is generating from people having the same types of problems.

I don't know if the eye prob could be pink eye. I don't know enough about p.e to be able to tell.

Our particular calf continues to appear well except for what appear to be cararacts on her eyes, though she seems to see well enough.

We are located in Dallas County; east of Buffalo. We don't sell raw milk due to the liability issue.

Thanks for visiting. I like reading other people's stories.

Anonymous said...

We live on a cattle ranch in FL (yes there are still some down here!) Anyway, we found a calf out in the pasture with swollen eyes (could hardly open them). Its mother teats were HUGE which lead us to believe it hadn't sucked yet.

We went out today and got it up...one eys is completely milky, and the other looks like coffee with cream. It definitely can't see so we have taken it away from it's mother (it's too wild to have in pens) and we are now going to raise it on a bottle if we can get it to suck. I would love to think that it will see down the road, but I really don't think it's going to happen. I'll let you know as grows.

Amanda said...

Wow- I am not alone in this! I have a week old calf (now known as Stucky). She was found as a 2 day old stuck in a fence. We penned up the mom and carried in the calf who was now dehydrated and exhausted. She stood in the pen eyes closed head down. After checking on her the next day, we saw she had not nursed and continued to become more weak. Both eyes were 85% milky/cloudy. After giving here some more time, we tubed the calf and are now bottle feeding it. We have separated it from the mother and put it in a small pen were she will not get herself stuck again. She also had phenomena and so I dosed her daily with 3 1/2 cc of penicillin (now on day 4). Her phenomena has cleared up for the most part and she has gotten stronger. HOWEVER! She will only walk in circles to the right. She gets to a corner... pushes, eventually either falls down or turns and goes to the right and loops around. She is not an aggressive drinker, but will take a bottle if I hold her mouth closed on it. SO! Anyone have an experience like this? If so, how did it turn out. We know she is blind, we think she may have some brain damage? I will add some pics tomorrow. Thanks for any in"sight".

boilerdad said...

Thanks for all your posts...after raising cattle forever you would think new things keep happening...and they do. We have almost an exact story with a blind calf...didn't suck because of nervous/big tits cow...almost died...drinking bottle calf. We are in a selenium deficient area and have given two injections of BOSe B complex and one injection of 1cc banamine...strong but definitely blind...I will post any progress.

Anonymous said...

We raise Black Angus Cattle. On Sat the 9th of May we had a heifer calf born, seemed to be very healthy and mom was taken good care of her. On Thursday my dad found the calf being sluggish and her sides were sunken, so he stood the calf up and kept mom in the corner and the calf was sucking well and giving mom a few good head butts. On Friday morning calf was sprawled out on it's side, running a fever and very weak, we then gave it some penicillin and tube fed it some medicated milk replacer (calf would not suck on the bottle ) we again tube fed the calf on friday evening and she did stand up at one point and had moved to a different area. On Saturday morning calf was up on it's hunkers and holding it's head up. Fever was gone but when we tried to give her a bottle we noticed that her eyes were cloudy ( milkie white) put my hands in front of her and I don't think she can see. Went down to feed her Saturday evening and we stood her up and stuck the bottle in her mouth and she chugged the whole thing, I was sooo happy that she drank on her own. I am clueless as to what caused her blindness or whatever it may be. If all is well with her I plan on bringing her up to my house so that I can keep an eye on her and give her the one on one attention she deserves. By the way we have been milking mom out and giving her mom's milk. Does anyone have any advise? Thanks

Thordaddy said...

I have one of those as well, it was 2 weeks old when it started hanging away fromthe herd, I've sequestered it .
Looking at it's eyes one looks semi normal the other is white and looks hollow to the white but isn't open IOW the pupil area looks like it's gone and replaced by clear fluid.

It is having trouble learning to eat anything but a bottle, I have to force solid food on it.

It has been two weeks and a half since I started.

Solid food is tighening it's stools ,I was afraid it would never quit scouring.

He's black and blind so we named him Ray Charles.

Anonymous said...

We got a black angus calf that was a twin. We got him for the daughter to show as a 4-H bucket/bottle calf. When we got him he was very weak and one eye was completely cloudy/milkie white and draining terribly. It was obvious he couldn't see from that eye but could the other. He was not an aggressive drinker. My daughter was determined to keep him alive. After about a week his health appeared to be going down hill. We started giving him LA 200 antibiotics. He got better and stronger. After having him at our house for about a month, the cloudy eye cleared up. He can see at least a little as he will blink if you put your hand close to it. Now he is just as healthy and rambunctious as the other 3! I asked the vet why his eye would have cleared and he is amazed that it did.

Roslyn Ross said...

Your blog has been a great help. We have just had a calf born which is blind. We are in the Adelaide Hills in Australia. Isn't it interesting that there seem so many posts about blind calfs born around this time? or is it much more common than we think? We have had our small farm for 12 years and this is a first for us.

Pioneer Bride said...

My first cow had a calf about 6 weeks ago, that we think is either blind or has poor eyesight. He is a dandy bull calf, but he runs into everything and has a hard time finding the right place to nurse! We have kept them in the corral, but are starting to let the pair out during the day in our small pasture, then pen them in the evenings. I sure hope this clears up. His eyes are cloudy, as if a thin membrane is covering them.

Your words are encouraging

Could this be caused by inbreeding?

Anonymous said...

Hi - I'm a last year vet student from Brisbane, Australia. I found this site when doing research on a blind 1 week old dairy swiss brown calf. This calf was reported blind, poor doer, sickly by the farmer. Myself and a few other students brought the calf back to the uni clinic to look after it. Treatment focused on support (electrolytes, milk, antibiotics and atropine eye drops). It had a pus discharge from navel, clear weeping eyes and nose, blind, depressed, anorexic, walked with stiff gait (though joints did not appear swollen). Both eyes had white opacity (cataract like)with perm constricted pupils. Now we prob have a few less/more/different bacteria/viral organisms here (Australia)but according to what I have read an endophthalmitis (aka inside eye infection)which includes vision problem/blindness (after ruling out congenital)can be caused from a endogenous infection (ie an infection somewhere else in the body). So in my case I'm thinking a navel ill (eg omphalitis) most likely Steptococcal (+ pos other bacteria) as I sampled this from the navel discharge. I'm also assuming that this calf may have not had it's quota of colostrum (so more likely to show clinical signs/get sick). This calf four weeks on is doing well. She is feeding well, still looking a little underweight but at this stage no improvement in sight. I guess (as with the original story) that if the eye is whitish etc as filled with pus it could have the possibility to eventually clear, assume in regards to vision will depend how much damage the original infection caused. If damaged than vision may never recover, or if does than the eye would always have altered structure so would be more susecptible to other problems including sun infiltration and possibly cataracts. In human medicine treating the eye infection as soon as possible is recommended to help prognosis but in many cases vision is still blurred or worse.
BTW - don't take my word as gospel - I'm just a student. Many of you described different eye colours/problems so there could be mulitple bacteria/viral etc agents being the underlying cause. :)

Anonymous said...

I have a calf, I believe to be blind. She was born a twin. The other calf is nursing from the momma. This calf walks in circles and bumps into things. Her eyes look ok. No drainage or cloudy looking eyes. I am bottle feeding her. I'm wondering, will she ever see, will I ever be able to put her with the rest of the herd? What will be long term care for her? How long do I have to continue to bottle feed her, till I can put her on grain?

Lloyd Thorsgard said...

Just ran across site looking for information on blindness in cattle. I have run 250 to 600 cows for 40 years. When I was younger and tagged calves every day I had closer contact with every calf born. They were all breeds of beef, Hereford back in the 60's, then Charolais, then crossbreds from all the Continental cattle breeds that were imported in the 70's and 80's.

Handling every newborn, I got to see one or two every year born blind. I do not recall one that did not come out of it in a few days or week. The veterinarian said, 5 cc of vitamin A, intramuscular and let them go. My optometrist said, babies are sometimes born without the full development of the nerves to the eyes, so I took it that this was the case.

This past March, however, something unreal happened in my herd. Scores of 6 to 12 month calves went blind, had tremors, and many died. The cows also had inc-ordination, many, many aborted their fetuses, and many died. The eye problems were not as great with the cows as the calves. Some yearling's died and had eye problems.

A report came back from the rendering plant that they found endosulfan, a pestcide used on crops, including sweet corn. We lost 10 bulls, numerous cows and calves, and a yet unknown number of abortions. 50 yearlings are blind, 2 or 3 cows, and a goodly number have lost the sight of one eye. Now I find newborn calves are blind with normal looking eyes, at least normal looking to me, I am pastel color blind.

It is late, I may write more in the next couple days about how to deal with the blind animals. For now let me say they get along quite well, surprisingly well. A idividual blind amimal will thrive comparably to other cattle if they are in a small enclosure. They will get to the feed and water so easily that an outsider would not realize that they are in fact, blind. More later.

Anonymous said...

Take heart any of you who have a blind calf!
We were blessed with "Stevie" 7 years ago and she has been the best mama cow ever!
She was born blind and her first few days were tough for her but she is a trooper. I knew when she was going to have her first calf because she, for the first time ever, challanged another cow over a pile of cubes. I looked at my husband and said "she's going to have a calf and she knows she needs extra protien in those cubes" Sure enough a few months later she delivered a beautiful bouncing baby boy!
I named her Stevie because she reminds me of Stevie Wonder by the way she bobs her head and she is a black angus:>))
Trust me if you have a blind calf they will do fine but please don't take them to the sale barn.
My husband called me this AM to tell me Stevie has just had her 4th calf and both are doing fine.

Anonymous said...

I was very happy to learn of stevie, I just had a young heifer given to me that is totaly blind, I will gain all her trust and help her grow to breeding age, then let her run the herd permenant, I am so happy to see a blind cow will fair well< she will NOT go to the sale, I love this little girl, I named her Charles(from the guy I got her from)ounce she trust me, I will show her the way of my place runs, she is only 2 1/2 months old, we have a long time to get aqointed before she is with the rst of the herd, she does have a couple of buddies her age so she's not alone.

longranch said...

We also have a calf who seems to have suddenly turned blind. At birth he got up and sucked, seemed very thrifty and energetic, so we turned them out with some other cow/calf pairs and by the next day he was laying in a corner bawling. We brought him in, gave him a shot of oxytetracycline, milked out the mom and he was not interested in drinking at all. If we stood him up he would just lay down, so I gave him a colostrum bolus and a shot of banamine for pain, went back in a half hour and he guzzled the bottle. Since then his eyes have become cloudy and he bumps into things. Doesn't like to walk around much and can't seem to find the momma's milk. I have to run her up the chute and physically put the nipple in his mouth every time he loses it and he happily drinks. I know he could see and suck by himself at birth and am thinking that he may have wandered under the wrong cow and got kicked causing head trauma. I give 1 cc of selenium and vit AD at birth, but I think I will give another shot of AD and continue with antibiotics and banamine as needed. It would be really nice if this little guy would at least regain enough sight to find his own meal. I will post again if I see any improvement.

Anonymous said...

i am so glad to read about positive tales of blind cows/ calves , we purchased a Charolais heifer with the knowlage that her sight was limited, she is about 2 weeks old, we plan to raise her and if able to breed from her ,
but she shows no signs of eye problems, her eys are clear and normal looking , so will wait and see what comes

Anonymous said...

I have read all the posting on here it is amazing to see how many cases of blind calves there are. We too had a calf that had cataracts about a yr. ago. she was healthy normal birth never had problems feeding we had mom and calf with others and when she was about 4 weeks old we noticed she was going around in circles in the middle of field (everyone else came in the barn to eat). we didnt do anything different left mom take care of her. she put weight on just as good as the rest we called her Orbit. she found buddies and they showed her where to eat and drink. she is now 800 lbs. it is interesting to watch how the cows take care of thier calves and each other. they knew she had a problem and they watched out for her, she was treated like one of them they never pushed her aside.

Anonymous said...

Hello, We have beef cattle. We had a Simmental twins born this week one drank rom the mom, the other mom would not so we bottle fed it. It was doing fine til Saturday morning. We found it on its side the right eye cloudy the other eye weepy. the noght before it was fine. It drank from the bottle and appeared healthy. I gave it a shot of vit A & D, plus LA-200. Unfortunity it died any way. I am wandering if anyone has any answers as to what could be the cause. Our cows are vacinated each year. This is a first for us.

Scared said...

I was researching blind calves and came acroos your blog, I also have a calf that bother wanted nothing to do with so we are bottle feeding her, but at a couple days old noticed her eyes were running, and now one eye is completely fogged over and the other is not far behind, thought maybe is was from malnutrition but noticed the othe day that another little calf also has one eye a little foggy. Hope they both don't loose there sight.

Anonymous said...

I have a calf that was born 4 days ago. She is 5 weeks early and only weighs 24 lbs. Her mother rejected her. Today was the first day she stood and walked a few steps. She has one eye that is totaly blue and very cloudy the other eye looks likea big round growth on the inside. She is blind. i'm very encourged from all your post. i'm just hoping if I give her a little time her eyes will clear up.

farmer fred said...

We have just had a sussex/limousin cow calve twin bull calves, one is fine but the other was rejected by mum and we believe did not suckle very much. I brought it in and bottle fed on colostrum,lactose and milk replacer. 6mm of alymycin A but the blindness has stayed. Mother won't let him get near her so it looks as if we shall raise him on his own and halter train him. Will let him run with the sheep in a small paddock and see how he goes on. Having troube getting him to take calf pellets but will keep trying

Anonymous said...

Hi there from NZ. I rear a lot of calves here, came across the site researching as i have had 2 calves both 2 days old eyes get weepy one night and by the next morning both have white/opaque eyes. Both had ABs today, one drinking off feeder with help from me , the other I tube morning and night. These calves both appeared normal on arrival at shed. Had feed of first colostrum . The is the first time have seen this particular issue after doing 100's of calves.

canyoncowgirl said...

I have also come across your blog, we have a heifer calf that was born 3 days ago. The first day she was up, seemed healthy, and her eyes were clear. By the end of the second day we started to wonder if she had been able to suck the mothers HUGE teats, she was starting to appear weak so we moved them in to a small paddock where we could bottle feed her if need be. We tried milking the mother, but no milk will come out of the huge teats, tried a draining needle and it would just BARELY drip. Today, day three, her right eye is totally white and the left is not far behind. We have had cattle for 13 years and my mother has had them her whole life and none of us have ever seen anything like this. ANYTHING would help, we do not want to loose this little girl. We are in Oklahoma if that helps at all.

charly said...

At our ranch we had a calf born on July 3. Within 3 days it was separated from her mom. When I found the calf, it was dehydrated and the weather was in the mid 90's. This calf had a severe fever and his eyes also were glazed over in a green color. The eye color also became white. His head and neck were stiff. Someone mentioned that he might have had meningitis. We gave him 500 PPM colloidal silver in @ 2 cups of water early in the day. (1/2 tsp. of colloidal silver). By evening he was still really sick. We decided to put him down. My brother in law went later in the evening to do just that, and he couldn't. By morning the calf was definetly better. We made up a batch of colloidal silver in water and sprayed it his eyes daily, slowly but surely, within 3 weeks his eyes returned to normal. We also gave him penicillin for 7 days. I eventually took him to the vet and found out that his navel had never closed,so he had surgery for that. We suspect that he has joint ill, and so he walks very slowly. We started him on colloidal silver, same dose as before, but every day. He is more alert and hopefully will get completely well.

Jenny said...

Interesting reading everyone's comments as I search for answers to our calf problem. We breed beef cattle in Australia and have reared many calves over the years but have never had them go blind. Recently we found a cow in our range country with a calf which obviously had not sucked and was severely dehydrated. It is not known if the cow's bottle teats arrived before or after the calf's problem but we managed to milk her out and feed the calf the colostrum. The calf was unable to find the teat herself but could suck when placed on the teat. The calf appeared to be gaining strength but suddenly became almost comatose and then died. Exactly the same scenario happened the next day but this calf appears to have gone blind. He drinks well from the bottle when I place it in his mouth but stumbles into objects and his weepy eyes have clouded over. Over the years we have had what we describe as "silly calves" which cannot find where to suck and would perish without our intervention. I am wondering if there is any connection with wet seasons and the prevalence of mosqitoes and midges. Does anyone know anything of the ikabana virus?

Anonymous said...

Tim Turner have a dairy operation in Ecuador at about 7800 feet above sea level first calf of the new year born blind like the others here with a white covering over both eyes she is in a pin sucked a little bit after birth feeding her with a bottle now she is 4 days old also treating her with antibiotic and she is better at least there mat be some hope someone said a calf regained sight later on not sure wht to do with this one, she stumbles around also bumping into walls but seems normal apart from being blind

Michaela Wood said...

Like everyone else I too have a semi blind bull calf.... I purchased him from a sale unaware of the fact he was blind Im assuming after reading some comments that maybe his blindness is linked to something else....maybe he had a fever? a cold it would make sense because i have now noticed a little nasal discharge so i have given him 72-200 i think i am gonna try some vitamins and keep doing what im doing cuz he seems overall healthy if anyone has some suggestions id apperciate any help as ive never had a blind calf before - Michaela