Treating Pinkeye in Calves

This is 'Patches', Clarisse's calf. He was born a few weeks ago. He has pinkeye. We thought we'd gotten ahead of it with the rest of the herd, but patches eye was teary and we didn't want to take any chances. At the first sign of irritation we start treatment. The protocol we follow consists of a booster shot of vitamins A, D, & E,  cod liver oil (administered orally), cleaning the surrounding area with tea tree oil, and spraying the eye with Vetericyn HydroGel Spray  A patch, glued in place over the eye, will fall off in about three weeks.  By that time the eye will be completely healed. Through trial and error, working with our veterinarian for a couple years, this is the treatment that's been most effective for us. Dry weather and tall grass seem to exacerbate pink eye. We aren't milking Clarisse during Patches' healing time. We don't want him stressed. When his eye has recovered,  Clarisse and Patches will be separated at night. She'll be milked first thing in the morning and reunited with Patches during the day time.  The past two summers' weather has been a challenge in more ways than one, but Patches is doing great, now.

Using Tear Mender and old denim Keith makes a patch which he shapes to fit the calves eye.  We buy livestock tag adhesive to adhere the material to the calf.













Every now and again we have a chick or a full grown hen whose  neck and head are crooked. This particular chick was in the brooder when I noticed that she wasn't moving to the freshly filled feeder with the rest of the flock. Typically, as soon as the feeders are re-filled, the chicks crowd around them. I noticed her head was tilted on a sharp angle -  almost upside down. I gave her a quick exam; she hadn't been smothered, crushed, or stepped on. I placed her in a small bucket with shavings to cushion her and got out the bottle of B-12 vitamins.

If you ever find one of your poultry with this condition here are the steps to follow:

  • Get B-12. Sublingual drops.
  • Use an eye dropper to administer B-12 (Do not use the dropper that comes with the B-12, you don't want to contaminate the bottle with bacteria)
  • poured some of the B-12 out on a dish, used an eye dropper or syringe (without the needle) to draw up the vitamins. A few drops are more than enough for a chick.
  • Tilt back the chicks head, open up the beak and squeeze in the drops. Make sure the chick swallows them.
  • Don't use more than a few drops, we're trying to heal, not drown, the chick.
  • Keep her in a small box or container that's open on top and place it in a safe area where dogs, cats, or other chickens can't bother her.
  • Repeat the drops three times a day for a couple days.

Every few hours you should see improvement. After one dose her head and neck should start to return to normal. Give the chick water in the same method as the B-12 a couple times a day and offer a small amount of feed free choice. If you don't have B-12 available try using raw liver. Chop the liver very fine or use a food processor to make a paste. Open the chicks beak and feed a small amount of liver. Massage the chicks throat to make sure she doesn't choke. Follow this with a few drops of water. Feeding liver will take longer to correct the crooked neck than the B-12 drops. You should see improvement within a couple of days.




Schroeder-Thomas Splint


Some years spring comes early, calving is uncomplicated. Other years, like this one, spring is nowhere around. Despite the cold temperatures the cows deliver calves. As a precaution we brought the cows into the barn yard where they could get under the shed roof . There's protection from freezing rain or snow here. Under the shed are straw bales and stalk bales for bedding. Round bales of hay fill the feeders under the roof and in the yard outside. Most of their days are spent in the open air, they come in freely when the weather is severe. The calves prefer the open air, too. Laying up against the stalk bales and hay feeders the calves are barely visible. On March 20, the first day of spring, the temperatures in north east Iowa struggled to get past the freezing mark. The calves all tucked themselves into the bedding. The cows standing over them added another layer of protection.

In the morning we noticed a lame calf. His leg was hanging at an awkward angle, loading him into the truck we took him to the vet's office. X-rays confirmed the hind leg was fractured clean through. Our best guess is that he was sleeping in the hay when one of the cows stepped on him.  The vet offered two options; euthanize him or do nothing and let the leg hang. Discouraged, Keith started researching other options. He discovered a description for the Schroeder-Thomas Splint. Keith and I made careful measurements of the calf's leg. From this we drew a template, Keith welded steel rod exactly as  presented in the instructions. The angles of the frame are critical for immobilizing the leg. The vet couldn't have been more supportive. He anesthetized the calf, reset the bone, and padded the splint and taped the leg into the frame. Throughout the procedure the cow bawled incessantly to her calf.

When the leg was set the calf and cow were closed into a quiet area under the shed. So far the calf is adjusting well. He's able to get up and down, nurse, and move (awkwardly at first but he's getting better). He's being supplemented with comfrey to help heal his bones, and Hypericum.

UPDATE:   We've had several questions about the splint and how the calf responded. Here's a picture of a makeshift splint we made for him, to add extra support for the leg, after the Schroeder-Thomas Splint was removed. His leg was wrapped in vet wrap, with a wooden splint placed on the outside femur for support, then it was wrapped in duct tape to secure it. The splint/bandage was replaced every couple days. Eventually it was removed and he was able to keep pace with the herd.

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5-1-13 grazing CRP 007







Tracie from Montana made a few changes to the splint. Here's a link to an updated version  Thanks for sharing, Tracie!