2013-05-09 / Ag News

The Record’s Ag Report

By Terri Lang

May 6, 2013

The mid-April winter storm generated some calls to Dr. Sheldon Malmedal of Linton Veterinary Service regarding a few sick calves.

“We had a few phone calls, and I heard some farmers did lose a few newborn calves,” Malmedal said. “One farmer had calves that were buried in the snow, and I heard one guy may have lost nearly 10 calves.”

Malmedal said the calls he received were seven to 10 days after the storm.

“Baby calves can actually take inclement weather pretty well, but they can only handle so much stress, and then sickness sets in,” he said.

With the accumulation of snow in mid-April, it was more than some of those newborn calves could tolerate. That, Malmedal said, is what causes too much stress for calves.


Dr. Sheldon Malmedal gets assistance from his wife, Marilyn, during many treatments and procedures on large and small animals they perform at Linton Veterinary Service. Malmedal has had his business since 1975. Above, they are operating on a cat. Dr. Sheldon Malmedal gets assistance from his wife, Marilyn, during many treatments and procedures on large and small animals they perform at Linton Veterinary Service. Malmedal has had his business since 1975. Above, they are operating on a cat. “Scours and pneumonia are generally the illnesses that set in,” Malmedal said.

Although Malmedal did not have reports on pneumonia, he did provide advice and medications for treating the scours.

“The scours cases were ‘simple scours,’ so we recommend treating that by replacing fluids as the calf is very dehydrated, and then also prescribed antibiotics, normally oral products,” he said.

If the report made by the farmer would have given him an indication that it was more severe, such as “toxic scours,” then Malmedal would have taken other necessary measures.


The Malmedals also raise bottle calves from a dairy every year, and these are the latest group they have. The Malmedals also raise bottle calves from a dairy every year, and these are the latest group they have. “When the calf is nearly comatose, its system needs to get flushed promptly,” Malmedal advised. “You need to stop the toxin that is being produced as that bacteria is producing a poison.”

Calves that develop scours and are excessively stressed because of the scours can develop a secondary pneumonia which complicates the picture and can be hard to treat. Malmedal emphasized how important it is to protect livestock against scours.

“There are several scour vaccines available, and vaccines often are given to the cow prior to her giving birth,” Malmedal said.

Proper procedures for controlling the spread of scours are equally important.

“Keeping a clean environment for those livestock is so important,” he said. “Messy corrals and barns are just not good, nor healthy.”


Marilyn nurtured “Miss” since March 24. She did not drink much for the first four to six hours of her life. Marilyn nurtured “Miss” since March 24. She did not drink much for the first four to six hours of her life. Malmedal also encourages farmers to bring the newborn calves into a dry, warm location when the temperatures drop and last for a few days.

“During the cold weather, calves get hypothermic, so it is good to bring the newborn calves inside and heat them up,” he recommended.

For farmers who have a consistent problem each year with scours in their herd, he advises the feces or dead calf be sent to a lab to determine what type of vaccine could be recommended to control that specific type of scours.

Malmedal said the calls have slowed down, and although the moisture was great for the land, the farmers having livestock would have been much happier with a rain.



Baby calf “Miss” was a newborn from a farmer who was not set up to deal with a preemie and all the work involved. She was lively, but cold, when they brought her in. Marilyn said Miss needed to be warmed up and given colostrum, and she did very well. Baby calf “Miss” was a newborn from a farmer who was not set up to deal with a preemie and all the work involved. She was lively, but cold, when they brought her in. Marilyn said Miss needed to be warmed up and given colostrum, and she did very well.

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